At the recommendation of many lovely bloggers, I listened to Heft on audio. I am now going to spew my own recommendation to those of you who haven’t experienced this wonderful book yet – audio is the way to go! Both narrators are fantastic and make their characters come to life with an ease and elegance that I’ve rarely found in the world of audio.
Heft is hard to summarize and for that reason I’m borrowing a short synopsis from Goodreads.com: A 550-pound former academic, Arthur Opp hasn’t left his house in a decade. Seventeen-year-old Kel Keller is the poor kid in a rich kids’ school striving for a baseball career. When Kel’s mother, a former student of Arthur’s, unexpectedly calls, it transforms both men’s lives.
In many ways that summary sounds dreadfully boring and was one reason I failed to read this sooner. But please don’t be dismayed. The characters in Moore’s novel are fantastic. She writes people filled with a gritty humanity that makes you yearn for a happy ending. Kel and Arthur go through so many trials and push through so many obstacles that you barely understand how they are still surviving. But they are surviving and it is spectacular.
I loved the push and pull between the two narratives – Kel’s and Arthur’s. It always felt like once man’s struggle was easing while the other’s only beginning. That waxing and waning made the flow work marvelously, but also takes you on an emotional roller coaster of epic proportions. I also particularly enjoyed having two male protagonists at such differing points in their lives. I liked how many similarities they had despite their extreme differences in situation. Liz Moore has won a fan for life. I will read everything she writes.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Heft was how easily I overcame a rather odd stigma or prejudice I have towards reading about morbidly obese people. I wasn’t even aware that such a character would turn me off until I read this synopsis. And I am embarrassed to admit that I initially cringed at this particular subject matter. I think I was just apprehensive to read a book that reflected something I find unattractive in myself (While not obese, I’ve never been the skinniest of women), but this book helped me confront my issues and learn from my own prejudices and grow. And that’s what great literature does. It offers up a mirror to confront ourselves – our ugliness and our brilliance.