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What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt
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What I Loved (2003)

by Siri Hustvedt

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  1. 10
    The shaking woman, or, A history of my nerves by Siri Hustvedt (bookmomo)
    bookmomo: both look into mental illnesses, but more important to me: both stress ambguity.
  2. 00
    By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham (Cecilturtle)
    Cecilturtle: vie d'un galeriste d'art à New York
  3. 00
    The Art of Murder by José Carlos Somoza (Cecilturtle)
    Cecilturtle: commentaire sur l'art qui enfreint les règles de la moralité
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Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Argh...another book I thought I'd like a lot more than I did. First, I thought it was too many things at once: exploration of visual art and its meaning + psychological thriller + intellectual literary fiction. I found the portions that dealt with the underbelly of the 90s rave scene to be the weakest and the least connected to the rest of the book.

I also felt like the narrative voice was slightly off, in that Leo was not believable to me as a man. I felt like I could tell he was being written by a woman.

My last complaint is that there was so much focus on exactly how the paintings looked. Books are not a visual medium, and I thought it was a bit of a waste spending that many pages describing how the pictures looked Just So. Maybe this comment reveals that I just didn't get the point, I don't know. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 4, 2014 |
Tried to read this on the recommendation of a friend..... found it way too depressing, didn't finish. ( )
  Fliss88 | Oct 21, 2013 |
Ugh. I couldn't finish this one: too much self-important chatter, too many navel-gazing characters in a plotless morass of reminiscence, too many hyper-detailed descriptions of works of art that we're told for pages on end are truly great and impressive and all the 1980s NYC yuppies loved them. Hustvedt seems to think that belonging to the class of the intelligentsia is such Serious Business that it renders her characters emotionless and unlikeable even when they are talking about the things that fascinate them.

I persevered until the first pages of the second part, and still the navel gazing and the self-absorption simply would not stop. That's when I realized I'd much rather be cleaning the flat than force myself to continue reading this boring melodrama.

I still gave this book two stars because it was clear to me that Hustvedt can write: she has insights and ideas and can convey them (at least part of the time) succinctly and poignantly. The execution of this book, however, is just one poor choice after another, and there is too little in the way of style, contents or framing to make this any more than a failed novel. ( )
  Petroglyph | Jul 8, 2013 |
What I Loved - was not this book. What I liked was the writing style - good flow, captivating descriptions and the characters felt real and complex. But the overall plot had a meandering feel and reading the book felt like seeing the middle part of a good movie. Interesting story, but not sure exactly what was the overall purpose or direction of the story. The plot centers around two families, the Hertzbergs and the Weschlers. Leo Hertzberg, an art historian, discovers a remarkable painting and tracks down the artist, Bill Weschler. The two form a lifelong friendship that evolves into an intricate web of ties between their two families. Their wives, Erica and Violet, and their sons, Matthew and Mark, each develop their own close friendship. They live in the same building, spend their summer vacations together, and they seem inseparable. But their close friendship becomes strained when a tragedy strikes and changes everything. I thought the way Hustvedt dealt with the feelings of grief and betrayal was excellent - I could definitely feel that sense of loss and anger. But everything seemed to deteriorate up to a point and then just stagnate. I'm not looking for a happy ending, but I didn't feel like there was a reason for the ending. Why not continue the story for another 20 pages of sadness and blahness. Or end it 20 pages earlier. Overall I was left with that dissatisfying feeling of reading a story and not quite 'getting it'. ( )
  jmoncton | Jun 3, 2013 |
What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt

Intelligent novel about the decades-long friendship between art historian, Leo Hertzberg, and painter, Bill Wechsler, and their families. Their friendship was forged by their mutual enjoyment of art and the discussions surrounding it in its variations and how people perceive it. They were both married to intellectuals. Bill's first wife, Lucille, was a poetess; his second wife, Violet, and Leo's wife, Erica, were both writers of very deep and serious subjects, i.e. hysteria, mental illness, eating disorders, etc. There is a lot of time spent listening to their discourses about all of these subjects in great detail. As the years passed, the troubles in their lives pushed these writers, I think, into focusing on some of these subjects as a means to solve the mysteries in their own lives.

There is a discussion at one point about a facet of Bill's work that seems to include the "intermixing" of people, man portrayed as a woman, the merging of two into one, the use of synonyms as puns, etc., and throughout the book, you see how this actually happens amongst the characters themselves. Their importance to each other becomes like a need to hold onto someone so tightly that you become part of them, or the compulsion to love what another loves just to feel closer to the person who loves it.

I really enjoyed the descriptions of the actual artwork created by Bill and even the drawings made by Leo's son, Matthew. The hidden meaning of their art (never fully explained but guessed at) and the correlation between the art and what actually happened in all of their lives over the years was given a lot of importance in the story. Their art seemed to have a prescient quality to it that revealed a knowledge about people and events long before they had to face their frustrations, misery and grief.

I perceived what I thought was foreshadowing in this book that never seemed to come to fruition, i.e. hints about Lucille's young son, Oliver's, paternity. I was also frustrated by some teasing suggestions that there were some new truths to be revealed surrounding the death of an 11-year-old boy, especially when it seemed (possibly, potentially) connected to the deviance shown by his best friend years later. ( )
  AddictedToMorphemes | Jun 2, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (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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Yesterday, I found Violet's letters to Bill.
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:15 -0400)

(see all 3 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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