This was my first read for the Schaumburg Library book club “Beyond the Book.” This was a great read for a book club because, well, this book was not beloved overall. There were 16 people in the club and I think 4 of us (self included) gave it a 4 out of 5, everyone else did a 3 or lower. But that made for a lively discussion.
The Interestings follows a group of friends from when they meet, at an arts camp in the summer of 1974, throughout the course of their lives into late adulthood. Some of the critiques of this book were that The Interestings “were not very interesting” or that like Seinfeld it was a book about nothing. I don’t disagree with those observations, but I still found the book enjoyable. I really like character development about all else, and the way Wolitzer wrote the story, cleverly using foreshadowing, I was hooked. And yes, the characters didn’t really grow, they were a rather self-absorbed crew, but I still wanted to see where it would lead, and where it would all end. Richard Russo is one of my favorite authors and though Wolitzer isn’t as strong of a writer, her story evoked his in that you are learning about regular people, living ordinary lives.
This book was a four for me and not a five because of the ending. It seemed like Wolitzer had gotten a memo from her editor, that she needed to wrap it up, and did so abruptly. Either she should have cut some out in the middle, or just spent a little more time flushing out the end to seem less rushed overall.
Also, I think there are many contributing factors to if you like a book. Your mood, the time in your life, what else you are reading at the time, etc. Most of the book club was in the over 50 crowd, and I think this book might be more enjoyable for a younger audience, especially someone in their 20s who could more readily relate to the teenage characters. Also, I read it right as I was struggling through The Devourers which I did NOT enjoy, so perhaps my view was elevated as I was coming off of what for me was a very bad read, and The Interestings was a bit of a lifeline, written with elements I typically enjoy: rich characters and coming of age stories.