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Heft: A Novel by Liz Moore
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Heft: A Novel (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Liz Moore

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4734721,857 (4.07)18
Member:mrstreme
Title:Heft: A Novel
Authors:Liz Moore
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Wishlist
Rating:
Tags:BM, PBS

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Heft by Liz Moore (2012)

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» See also 18 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
Arthur Opp weighs about 500 lbs., and he hasn't been out of his house in Brooklyn in ten years. He was a professor, but no longer works, supporting himself through money from a father he never sees, and ordering everything and having it delivered to his door. His only real friendship, since his friend Marty died, is sporadic correspondence with an ex-student of his, Charlene Turner. This is a gentle, very moving story and I loved every word of it. As we get into the story, we learn that Charlene has a son who is about to graduate high school and she wants her friend, Arthur to help by talking to him about colleges. Kel, her son, is only interested in baseball. It's hard to do this story justice, but I absolutely loved it. It was recommended by Katie Krug and it was as good as she said. Highly recommended! ( )
  Dianekeenoy | Sep 18, 2016 |
If you like beautifully drawn character studies and tales of loneliness and alienation, then may I recommend Heft? Liz Moore gives us two unique characters, an overweight shut-in in his 50s and a promising young baseball player of 18. What connects them is a woman - Charlene - a character who doesn't get her own narrative in the book but who is as equally well drawn as the two narrators who tell her story. Books set mainly inside characters' heads often give in to the ease of "telling and not showing." But Moore resists that temptation and her novel is all the stronger for it. This is a hard book to describe, really, but it is one that will stay with me. The portrait of grief about two thirds of the way in is so well done and immediate that I was transported back 17 years to the death of my mother and felt again those same emotions of impermanence, un-mooring, and deep pain. Not an easy read but definitely a worthwhile one. ( )
6 vote katiekrug | Aug 30, 2016 |
'I would remind myself of how many people there were like me, & how many people fall into the despair of loneliness...'

This is a review where I have to be careful not to be over the top, because, plainly said, I loved this book so, so much.

Arthur Opp, at around 550 pounds, is extremely overweight, and he hasn't left his large home in Brooklyn in ten years. He was an academic, but no longer works, supporting himself through money from a father he never sees, and ordering everything from food to books online and having it all delivered to his door. He tells us his home was once 'very lovely inside and out', but has now fallen 'into a sort of haunted disrepair', and he hasn't seen the upper floors in a decade. His only real friendship, since his friend Marty passed away, is an infrequent correspondence with an ex-student of his, Charlene Turner, and the novel commences with a frank letter that he is composing to her.

Kel Keller is a talented baseball player in his last year of highschool. His mother, Charlene, wants him to consider college, but he is not academically minded and is instead aiming for a place with a major league team straight out of school. His life isn't the seemingly easy, privileged existence of his fellow students at Pells Landing. He lives in Yonkers, and commutes to the prestigious school everyday, having a place there only because his mother used to work there. But his mother not only no longer works, she can no longer cope with life, and spends her days drunk for the most part, something which Kel has had to live with, and hide. Charlene writes to her old acquaintance Arthur Opp, asking if maybe he could advise her son Kel about colleges.

The story is told alternately by Arthur and Kel, both of whom are endearing and wonderful voices. Arthur and Charlene connected as two lonely souls. She told him once how she felt she was invisible. He tells us 'I am one of the world's lonely', and that he 'felt destined for solitude' right from the beginning of his life, before then even, he was 'very certain that one day it would find me, so when it did I was not surprised & even welcomed it.' He has ways of consoling himself, through food especially, and has imagined that there is 'an oversoul of loneliness', a way that all those who are lonely in the world are somehow connected, and there is a reason for it.

'There was a delicious romance in being utterly alone, & I told myself I was nobler for it, & that there was a purpose to my solitude, O there must be.'

Liz Moore has captured how loneliness feels. How a person can withdraw from the world and years can pass by, spent in this solitude. In Arthur and Kel, she has created two wonderful, damaged, loveable characters whose lives are gradually drawn closer together through the strand that connects them; the life of one woman, herself lonely and destroyed. Slowly, their lives begin to shift. The appearance in Arthur's life of Yolanda signifies his first real contact with the outside world for a long time. An unlikely but wonderful friendship begins.

Meanwhile, the huge change in his life, partway through the story, takes Kel full circle, sees him spiralling down into despair, and leaves him longing 'to collapse into myself until I no longer exist, I want to live in my mother's house and never go out.' This passage sounds like Arthur. Kel wants to isolate himself from the world now. Are these two very different people actually rather alike? What has happened to make Kel feel this way? What will happen to them both?

The story moves along beautifully, it gripped me from the very start; it has surprises for us along the way, and is enjoyable and very poignant. I felt that the author really cared about these characters. It is a story filled with sadness and hope, and told in an intimate, warmhearted way. I loved, cared about, rooted for and was thoroughly convinced by Arthur and Kel and their lives throughout.

Thank you for a really brilliant book Liz Moore. The characters have stayed with me, and this story is certainly in my top reads of the year so far. ( )
1 vote LindsaysLibrary | Aug 19, 2016 |
Moving story about isolation and breaking through. Made me cry. ( )
  AnnAnderson | Jun 25, 2016 |
I liked pretty much everything about this book, including the design of the book itself. I loved the concept behind the story as well as the details of how it was realised. Every single character held some interest for me, even the ones I didn't like. Of course, my own personal misanthropy and isolationism gave me a particular insight and identification with the characters that not everyone else would share, so maybe I rated the book higher than it 'deserved' or would receive from a more objective and intelligent reviewer. And by the way, I completely reject the view that seems to have been put forward by some LT reviewers, that it's a great book except for the ending. I found the last part of the book to be entirely consistent with the quality of the rest of the novel. ( )
  oldblack | Feb 17, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
The writing is quirky, sometimes to a fault, yet original . . . Moore’s second novel wears its few kinks well
added by nsblumenfeld | editPublishers Weekly (Nov 14, 2011)
 
Only a hardhearted reader will remain immune to Kel’s troubled charm.
added by nsblumenfeld | editKirkus Reviews (Nov 3, 2011)
 
Moore's lovely novel (after The Words of Every Song) is about overcoming shame and loneliness and learning to connect. It is life-affirming but never sappy.
added by Christa_Josh | editLibrary Journal, Lauren Gilbert (Oct 15, 2011)
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Liz Mooreprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Heyborne, KirbyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Szarabajka, KeithNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my mother, Christine
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The first thing you must know about me is that I am colossally fat.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393081508, Hardcover)

A heartwarming novel about larger-than-life characters and second chances.

Former academic Arthur Opp weighs 550 pounds and hasn't left his rambling Brooklyn home in a decade. Twenty miles away, in Yonkers, seventeen-year-old Kel Keller navigates life as the poor kid in a rich school and pins his hopes on what seems like a promising baseball career—if he can untangle himself from his family drama. The link between this unlikely pair is Kel’s mother, Charlene, a former student of Arthur’s. After nearly two decades of silence, it is Charlene’s unexpected phone call to Arthur—a plea for help—that jostles them into action. Through Arthur and Kel’s own quirky and lovable voices, Heft tells the winning story of two improbable heroes whose sudden connection transforms both their lives. Like Elizabeth McCracken’s The Giant’s House, Heft is a novel about love and family found in the most unexpected places.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:23 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Arthur weighs 550 pounds and hasn't left his rambling Brooklyn home in a decade. Kel navigates life as a poor kid in a rich school, and pins his hopes on what seems like a promising baseball career. An unexpected connection transforms both their lives as they find sustenance and friendship in the most surprising places.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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