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What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt

What I Loved (2003)

by Siri Hustvedt

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,137543,061 (3.94)148
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» See also 148 mentions

English (43)  French (5)  Swedish (2)  German (2)  Finnish (1)  Catalan (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (55)
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
This is an ugh/sigh/hmm book for me. I almost never read contemporary fiction as I find it too indulgent. Yes, the world sucks and relationships are difficult. People in unhappy marriages drive me crazy: do something, do something, change. Yet I was enthralled, I was captured by the horror of Mark, of finding in a character a trainwreck so similar to yet more alluring - because it was all fiction! - than the addicts and manipulators in my own life. For popular fiction, it was very gripping writing. I skimmed a lot of it so it shouldn't count toward my number this year, but I had to admit to this guilty pleasure/horror.
  Kristin_Curdie_Cook | Apr 29, 2016 |
Incredible cast of characters, beautiful rich writing.
Review: https://weneedhunny.wordpress.com/what-i-loved-siri-hustvedt/
  zombiehero | Mar 25, 2016 |
This novel is a memoir of the adult life of Leo Hertzberg, art history teacher in NYC, and his relationships with wife Erica, and their very close friends Bill and Lucille (and later Violet) Wechsler. All are of an artistic bent, and the wives give birth to sons weeks apart, binding the families even more. The book for me gains traction entering part two, when a tragedy creates a template for all the characters' lives going forward. A second, more insidious tragedy emerges, becoming a burden almost beyond endurance for those witness to it. The novel shifts into a suspense thriller in its final stanzas, which feels a bit awkward to me, as well as further displaying some rather deviant behaviors and images that appeared several times in the last 2/3 of the book. Not over the line, but did leave me with an unsatisfied feeling. So, the positive: a solid psychological family drama; the negative: a forced, lengthy suspense element and little to show for it. ( )
  JamesMScott | Mar 7, 2016 |
Wonderful. ( )
  mjlivi | Feb 2, 2016 |
This is a hard book for me to review. I read Hustvedt's brand new book, The Blazing World last year and loved it so I've been looking forward to trying more of Hustvedt's work. What I Loved has a lot in common with The Blazing World; both books revolve around the contemporary art world and show Hustvedt's vast knowledge of art and literary scholarship. But where I thought this knowledge served the story well in The Blazing World, I ended up feeling like the long art descriptions and academic discourses disrupted the plot and made me dislike the pretentious characters.

[What I Loved] is told from the point of view of Leo Hertzberg, an art history professor who is looking back on his adult life. He starts his story with meeting a artist named Bill Weschler. Bill is unhappily married to Lucille and Leo is just married to Erica. The four become friends and both have sons around the same time. Bill ends up leaving Lucille for Violet, a woman he has used in his paintings. Leo and Erica embrace Violet as Lucille was always hard to deal with. The first part of this book is filled with their adult relationships and academic endeavors. It is the part that I found a bit pretentious.

The second part begins with a tragedy. Leo and Erica's son, Matt, dies in a boating accident while he's away at camp. This part of the book almost did me in. The way that Hustvedt writes about and dwells in grief was too intense for me. I had to put the book aside for a few days and seriously contemplated not returning to it. I suppose the realism says something positive about her writing but it was almost too much for me. I made it through the heart of that section though, and it got easier to read from there.

The third part focuses of Bill's son, Mark. Mark is a troubled youth - lying constantly, taking drugs, and in with the wrong crowd, including an adult artist who produces highly violent and graphic art and is something of a sensation in the art world. Mark's character is never fully revealed; it remains a bit murky whether he is evil at heart or has fallen in to the wrong crowd. The relationships between Leo, Bill, Violet, and Erica really have fallen apart by the end of the book, in part due to the tragedy in part 2 and in part due to Mark's behavior. (I'm being a bit oblique here to not give away some plot elements)

As I write about this book, I realize that there is a lot to think about here and that I did appreciate the quality of the writing and the ideas Hustvedt develops. Unfortunately, I didn't really connect with this book and found some of the plot elements too sad to let me enjoy the book. I also think I didn't really ever like Leo, which doesn't help in a first person narrative.

I will read more of Hustvedt's work, but wouldn't really recommend this one as a starting point. ( )
1 vote japaul22 | Aug 24, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Siri Hustvedtprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Holt, Heleen tenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rikman, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Paul Auster
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Yesterday, I found Violet's letters to Bill.
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Haiku summary
Friendship, art and love
- things to look back at after
life is mostly lived.

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312421192, Paperback)

What I Loved begins in New York in 1975, when art historian Leo Hertzberg discovers an extraordinary painting by an unknown artist in a SoHo gallery. He buys the work; tracks down the artist, Bill Wechsler; and the two men embark on a life-long friendship. Leo's story, which spans twenty-five years, follows the growing involvement between his family and Bill's--an intricate constellation of attachments that includes the two men, their wives, Erica and Violet, and their sons, Matthew and Mark.

The families live in the same New York apartment building, rent a house together in the summers and keep up a lively exchange of ideas about life and art, but the bonds between them are tested, first by sudden tragedy, and then by a monstrous duplicity that slowly comes to the surface. A beautifully written novel that combines the intimacy of a family saga with the suspense of a thriller, What I Loved is a deeply moving story about art, love, loss, and betrayal.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:34 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Story begins in New York in 1975, when art historian Leo Hertzberg discovers an extraordinary painting by an unknown artist in a SoHo gallery. He buys the work and tracks down the artist, Bill Wechsler, and the two men embark on a life-long friendship. Leo's story spans twenty-five years and follows the evolution of the growing involvement between his family and Bill's--an intricate constellation of attachments that includes the two men their wives, Erica and Violet and their children, Matthew and Mark. Over the years, they not only enjoy love but endure loss.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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