Why The Interestings Weren’t Interesting

MEG_photoOne of the main points in Meg Wolitzer’s novel, The Interestings, is that these people really aren’t so interesting. And that’s okay.

Now, don’t get me wrong because I loved this book. But it wasn’t because I fell in love the characters. In fact, I loved it more because the characters kinda sucked.

I don’t mean that Wolitzer wrote bad characters. Quite the opposite, she wrote some very unlikeable characters very well.

The Interestings follows a group of people from their days as awkward teens in summer art camp to when they become empty-nesters with college aged children. They meet in camp and immediately proclaim themselves “The Interestings”. One makes it big as a artist while others struggle to hold on to their creative streaks.

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There’s a lot of sadness in The Interestings because the characters experience bad luck and make poor decisions. In short, they are unloveable but undoubtedly, relatable. Wolitzer’s ability to make our mundane insecurities interesting is a feat on its own.

If you enjoy sad-but-necessary, coming-of-age stories, I also recommend Starboard Sea and Speechless. If you’re looking for a tale that follows its characters from young to old, I recommend Alone in the Classroom.

Photo credits: secretforts.com

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Meg Wolitzer visits in the rain

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Last Wednesday, I visited the Toronto Reference Library on a dark and stormy evening to meet the one and only Meg Wolitzer. Thanks for visiting us in the rain, Meg!

Meg is author of The Wife, The Ten-Year-Nap and most recently, The Interestings. She joked that her secret to success was beginning all her titles with “The”.

I sat waaay in the back and barely caught a glimpse of her. It was my fault really. I showed up super late because I insisted on walking in the rain — mostly because it was so gross and humid on the subway.

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But Meg is so witty, so entertaining that I enjoyed hearing her speak from the abyss. I did finally get to meet her when she signed my copy of The Interestings! I am currently half way through the book and I love it.

Here are a few of her most memorable quotes from the event — trust me, there were many:

On Happiness: “The happiest people are involved in a lot of projects. It gives them something in the future to work towards.”

On Women Taking TIme Off to Raise Children (subject of The Ten-Year-Nap): “A corporation is not a person. It does not love you.”

On Bad Reviews: “People say you can’t believe the bad reviews but if you can’t believe the bad reviews, you can’t believe the good ones either.”

On Writing: “You start off writing War and Peace but it eventually becomes War and then it becomes Woah.”

On Talent (in relation to The Interestings): “So much about talent is about luck… Life isn’t even. Some families have money.”

She also told a fantastic story about her “Nora Ephron moment”. Apparently, she was eating dinner with Nora and couple other writers while candied walnuts were all the rage. Everyone orders the salad with candied walnuts but Nora orders salad with double the candied walnuts. Lesson learned: ask for what you want.

Nora Ephron in her home office

Nora Ephron in her home office

Photo credits: theatlanticwire.compiliprud.blogspot.com, dailymail.co.uk

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