just finished

This book stirred up a lot of emotions--I felt joy and horror, sadness, bleakness, affection, hope, love, and curiosity. Physically felt these emotions as I was listening. It is an investment at 700+ pages or 33 hours audio, and I feel accomplished for having finished it. The narrator, Oliver Wyman, had subtle tone changes and vocal characterizations that were amazing. It's a brilliant book. I can't stop thinking and feeling about it. And I mean physical reactions--my heart would pound, I would gasp aloud, I was moved to tears, I chuckled in a couple of places. It's challenging and difficult and beautiful.

From the publisher:
When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

What I liked: the study of friendship: over decades the four friends squabble, fight, and love unconditionally. The study of art: The characters are linked together by different mediums of art. And art is a thread throughout the book--from music to architecture to visual art. The unfolding of stories: although it is described as the story of four friends it is really about Jude. The author slowly unveils Jude's harrowing life story. The study of family: by the end of the book, friendships have transcended to family.

What I didn't like: the lack of chronology: there are no cultural, historical references at all to anchor this narrative. The lack of professional struggle: there are few instances of characters struggling in their careers, it's highly unlikely that they would all rise to the top of their professions. The continual apologies: if I had a nickel for each "I'm sorry" uttered, I'd be debt-free.

1 comment:

Paula said...

I have this book on my Nook. It is long, long, long. I haven't started it yet. Hope it will be worth the read. You made it sound good!