I do not think I would make a good reviewer. My reviews would be divided into “I liked it” or “It was…okay” or “I hated it.” The body of my reviews would be, “I don’t know, I just really enjoyed reading it or watching it or listening to it.” This is not a review of The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, but even though I’m only on page 248 of the book’s 468 pages, I could give you my review, were I in the review business: I love it.
I know there are much sadder things in the world than this, but I have not finished a book since December. For the last three months, I have picked up books that I’ve slogged through, then given them up somewhere within the first 150 pages. The books would sit untouched on my side table, and I’d look guiltily at them every time I’d glance in their direction. It’s kind of my own fault; suffice to say, if you’ve read the biography of one gay alcoholic 20th century writer, you’ve sort of read them all.
A few months ago, my friend Sienna, who I’ve been in the same room with twice and our friendship is mostly cultivated on Facebook, told me that I would love The Interestings. You can learn a lot about people from their Facebook activity, and Sienna, in her acuity, nailed it. I do love it. It’s about New York in the 1970s and New York in the 1980s and current New York and New England summer campers. The only thing that could make it more interesting is if the characters all went to an Amy Grant concert in Central Park in the 1990s. Unlikely, but, you never know, I still have over 200 pages left.
If you are a reader, I think you can relate to that feeling you have when you’re reading a book that you love, when it’s the last thing you read before you go to bed at night or you wake up thinking, I could read for 30 minutes before I have to get ready for work. And wherever that book is set, you are there for the duration. I wasn’t the only 20-something that spent weeks in 1970s San Francisco while feverishly reading the first six Tales of the City books. I wasn’t the only midwestern teenager who spent a few days tooling around Holden Caulfield’s Manhattan. And I’m not the only person, with fond but complicated memories of summer camp, intimate but complicated relationships with more successful old friends, that has read and connected with The Interestings.
At work yesterday, a few of us were talking about books. Kristin talked about how she loved when a book was so interesting she had to read it while she walked to the bus stop. Ian confided that he had not finished a book in 10 years. “I wish I loved reading books,” he lamented. But books are just a method of taking a journey and Ian loves movies and television the way others loves books. We are what we are.
And right now, I am in the middle of a journey and I think about my new friends Jules and Ethan and Ash and Jonah Bay constantly. I don’t know what’s ahead, as I said, I’m only on page 248. Will Cathy Kiplinger resurface? Probably. Will I forgive Goodman for what he did? Unlikely. Will one of the Interestings die before the book ends? I have a feeling. But I am in, absorbed, captivated, interested. And I have to wrap this little post up and get back to my book, because I still have 10 minutes before I need to get ready for work.