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Heft (2012)

by Liz Moore

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6506227,531 (3.98)32
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)
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» See also 32 mentions

English (61)  Italian (1)  All languages (62)
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
Finished re-reading 2/24/16. I can't remember the last time I re-read a book, but this one has really stuck with me and I found myself thinking about old Arthur Opp the other day, so I decided to spend a little more time with him and the other struggling souls in Heft. It was just as good as (maybe better than) I'd remembered, and I'm also excited to learn that the author has a new book coming out in July. Hooray!

First read: 5/4-5/16 2013. Although this was definitely a case of the right book at the right time for me, I think I can still objectively say that it was very, very good. The story is told from two perspectives, and the author did falter on capturing the voice of the 18-year-old boy, Kel, but his inner monologue was so compelling that I tried to overlook that after awhile. Nevertheless, it keeps the book from earning five stars. Arthur Opp, the 500-pound recluse's story, meanwhile, is poignant and mesmerizing. A study of loneliness, isolation, and longing, and a quirky love story that reminded me of The Giant's House even before I'd seen that comparison here on Goodreads, Heft is a lovely piece of fiction. ( )
  CaitlinMcC | Jul 11, 2021 |
This is the most delicious book I've read in a long time. I actually listened to the audio book and I wonder if the traditional reading of it would be very different. There were two readers who had two very distinct voices and they brought the story to life in spectacular fashion. The plot summation is that following two very different people, you see how families of circumstance are born and can be better and healthier than families of birth. I will hear this book and these characters in my head for a long time to come. It was a wonderful treat. ( )
  susandennis | Jun 5, 2020 |
I loved the two voices in this book, and thinking about what they have in common. Based on its set up, I thought it would show more interactions between the two main voices, but I like that we are left to interpret in what additional ways these two characters are connected. One is an obese former professor who hasn't left his brownstone in 20 years, the other a high school athlete from a rough background trying to fit in with rich kids in a neighboring town. I think I'll be reflecting on where the themes cross for a while: loneliness, what it means to be trapped, seeking connections, the value of education... a very thoughtful, warm-hearted read. ( )
  nancyjean19 | Jun 3, 2020 |
A beautifully crafted story with characters that got under my skin

I wouldn't normally have chosen to read a novel about a morbidly obese middle-aged shut-in ex-academic and a High School student and wannabe baseball star with anger management issues but I'd heard that Liz Moore had a strong, distinctive, voice, so I tried the audiobook.

It was an excellent decision, not just because Liz Moore writes beautifully but because "Heft" works well as an audiobook. The contrasting voices of Kirby Heyborne and Keith Szarabajka draw an even stronger distinction between the world as seen by the monstrously fat Arthur Opp and the athletic, on-the-brink-of-manhood Kel Keller.

In "Heft", Liz Moore takes up the challenge of writing a character-driven novel that features two unsympathetic characters who are leading ordinary lives that verge on the dull. Her achievement is that, by the end of the book she had managed to tangle them in my imagination enough to make me hope on their behalf.

The novel is structured as two parallel stories of frailty, failure and loss that are up-lifted by the accuracy of their observation and the suppression of the authorial voice, which forces the reader to make their own judgements on the actions and motives of Opp and Keller.

Some of those actions are hard to watch and don't paint Keller or Opp in a positive light.

Keller's guilty anger at having to care for his sick and apparently drunk, mother and his encounter, in a room strewn with beer cans and smelling of neglect, with the man he believes may be his father, create a bleak picture.

One of the most powerful moments, for me, was Keller having sex with a girl from his old neighbourhood just because she's there and then remaining cruelly passive when he knows the hurt he has caused her. This is the kind adolescent many of us can remember being but would be ashamed to admit to. It speaks to the honesty that holds this book together.

Arthur Opp is shown as a man unable to connect to connect to the people around him and who has been corrupted by a morbid desire for food, that ultimately becomes his only source of pleasure. That Opp's life has shrunk as his body has expanded is symbolised by his inability to climb the stairs to reach the upper floor of his home.

"Heft" handles big themes: how weakness and shame corrode; how parents can damage their children; how fantasy becomes a substitute for action; how small, practical acts of kindness can kindle hope and the possibilities that open up when we set out to build "families" composed of people we care about.

Liz Moore knows how to describe the small victories and moments of kindness that make life worth living. Opp's first walk outside of his house in many years, conveyed a real sense of risk and triumph. The quiet hospitality Keller is offered by his almost-girlfriend and her family shows the impact of kindness. Both men are motivated to try to be more, to be better, by the women in their lives who can see beyond the failings and fear and the self-hatred to the men they could become with courage and love and time.

"Heft" is not a didactic book. It is not selling self-help solutions and does not offer tidy endings. If it has a message, it is: "Life is a mess. Deal with it. But deal with it with as much kindness and empathy as you can manage."

( )
  MikeFinnFiction | May 16, 2020 |
This novel about Arthur Opp, an obese agoraphobic, and Kel Keller, a high school senior whose mother is a very sick alcoholic, is a very depressing read. Each of these characters tells his own story in turn by detailing events that lead to the present time in the book. To appreciate this book, I have to look at how the author explored the loneliness of these two. They are very different people but both are alone in the world in their own way. Arthur is home bound and Kel is "bound" to his mother and both of them have dreams of a better life. ( )
  Rdglady | Nov 20, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 61 (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)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Liz Mooreprimary authorall editionscalculated
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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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.

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