Thank You For Recommending "The Interestings"

Looking for novels about summer camp and campus life.

December 9, 2013

On John Warner’s recommendation, (and some other great reviews), I read Meg Wolitzer’s new novel The Interestings.

Thank you John! 

The Interestings is all about the power that certain places can exert in our lives.  

In Wolitzer’s novel that place is a summer arts camp called Spirit-in-the-Woods. The place where in 1974 six artsy 15-year-olds meet and bond over teepee living and teenage performance artistic triumphs. A summer that proves to have an outsized influence on the adult lives, careers and loves of the six friends who end up forming the eponymous club of the novel’s title.

The Interestings is must read for anyone who has experienced the power of summer camp to influence our own narratives. In my case the camp was Wingate-Kirkland, the place that convinced me that I was really an athlete. (And in the world of my fellow Jewish secular campers from suburban New England, I really was a pretty good basketball player).

The college years seem to have very little influence on The Interesting friends. The main character, Jules, sums up her postsecondary residential living experience in this way:

"Her suite mates were a group of girls as mean as you could ever find, not to mention slatternly, unacademic. It was just a piece of bad luck that she had been put with them. The suite smelled of hot comb. The girls screamed at one another with abandon and contempt, as though this place were some kind of halfway house for the deranged.”

The Interestings was a novel that I absolutely loved.  A well-deserved addition to the NYTimes 100 Notable Books of 2013.

What are the great campus life (as opposed to camp life) coming of age novels?

Books of this genre that I have loved include Moo, The Art of Fielding, The Marriage Plot, The Human Stain, I Am Charlotte Simmons, Straight Man and Wonder Boys.

What are you reading?


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