Meg Wolitzer and The Interestings


Friday, April 12, 2013

Meg Wolitzer’s latest novel, The Interestings, is both a coming-of-age and coming-of-middle-age story. Six teenagers meet at a performing arts camp in the Berkshires — the kind of place where kids put on Beckett plays — and become lifelong friends. It’s the summer of 1974, and the friends are united in the belief that they are destined for interesting lives as an actor, a director, a musician, and an animator.

One could mock their presumption, but Wolitzer loves the adolescent world of “endless possibility,” when all options feel open. As we grow older, she says, “our lives get smaller.” The problem for Wolitzer’s group of friends is that as some of their talents fade, others flourish, and by middle age, their fortunes have diverged.

Wolitzer’s talent blossomed young — her first book was published when she was still in college — and she has remained prolific. She says that she is proud of hanging on. People don’t read fiction like they used to, and being a novelist has a bit of a specialty feeling to it. Kurt compared the craft to those who make wooden boats. Wolitzer agrees. Writing fiction is like boat building, “or scrimshaw.”


Bonus Track: Meg Wolitzer's 3 for 360

Comments [1]

David Gillman from Arlington MA

Oh, Kurt Anderson, you are so right and so wrong for saying that every "smart" teenager of the last 50 years thought he or she invented irony, because the word you're looking for is strong, because what you call irony is irony without a locator, a game of guerrilla warfare that always has winners and losers, not the irony of Miss Lonelyhearts or Mark Twain where you know where it stands and it's on your side -- and makes you grateful for discovering Nathaniel West not full of yourself for having invented something you didn't invent -- but the irony of Frank Zappa where the whole purpose is to hide and put down. It was the strong, beautiful kids who could get away with hiding behind irony, like beautiful young girls who, pretending to hide their beauty behind torn clothes, black makeup, and piercings, are only proving that it shines through those coy artifices.

It may have been you but it wasn't me.


David Gillman

Apr. 14 2013 09:05 PM

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