Review by Shellie for: Heft ~ by Liz Moore
A fable-like novel with a variety of relatable characters, addictions as a subject matter, and a kind, intelligent, yet very overweight protagonist that one cannot help but adore. His opening line draws you completely in with: “The first thing you should know about me is that I am colossally fat.”
About: Two characters tell this story - Arthur Opp and Kell Keller - and as more characters immerge heartfelt entanglements develop.
We have Arthur Opp, who describes himself as immense. He continues on in resignation as he cannot leave his home in fear of the reactions to his appearance from others. He is depressed and damaged, but it’s clear from his voice that he has a contemplative and considerate nature.
The story begins as he writes a letter to the unrequited love of his life, Charlene, to tell her his predicament and to re-establish contact for a glimmer of hope for a change in his life. He soon finds that she has a teenage son, Kell Keller, who is in his last year of high school. Kell is to become the other of the narrators.
As these two characters tell their stories the reader glimpses, in small pieces delved out slowly, how their lives interconnect with each other in significant ways.
Thoughts: Written with a variety of interesting techniques via letters and by narration from the two main characters, the text flows well, sucking in the reader. Liz Moore expresses Arthur Opp’s character skillfully and surprisingly; it’s admirable that she could have so much insight into the psyche of such a man and create such a likeable and lovely character. I want to be friends with Arthur Opp.
I listened to it in audio, with some occasional reading of the text too. (The hardcover edition is a small and an easy-to-handle size and the audio version is well done). It’s literary fiction since it is exceptionally thoughtful with loads of in-depth character development. Yet it has some of the narrative elements of genre fiction so there is some of the natural ups and downs – which caught me into the drama so I had to keep reading it.
It’s a wonderful book for group discussion, since it may dispel many negative notions about individuals with weight problems, health issues, and addictions - giving readers so much to talk about. And it’s a hopeful tale too, with a subtle moral. I just loved it. A definite cure for the dark story doldrums. Recommended for anyone who loves sweet endings that one will probably not guess. I give this lovely book a 4.5 stars.
W. W. Norton & Company; (January 23, 2012.)
Liz Moore is a writer, musician, and teacher. Her first novel, The Words of Every Song was published in 2007. Soon after Liz released an album, Backyards, and obtained a MFA in Fiction. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Writing at Holy Family University in Philadelphia, where she lives. Her second novel, Heft, was published in January 2012. http://www.lizmoore.net/
Thanks for reading.