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Insightful,
Confusing,
Addictive

7 reviews

Heft: A Novel
by Liz Moore

Published: 2012-01-23
Hardcover : 352 pages
11 members reading this now
22 clubs reading this now
12 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 4 of 7 members
A heartwarming novel about larger-than-life characters and second chances.Former academic Arthur Opp weighs 550 pounds and hasn't left his rambling Brooklyn home in a decade. Twenty miles away, in Yonkers, seventeen-year-old Kel Keller navigates life as the poor kid in a rich school and ...
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Introduction

A heartwarming novel about larger-than-life characters and second chances.Former academic Arthur Opp weighs 550 pounds and hasn't left his rambling Brooklyn home in a decade. Twenty miles away, in Yonkers, seventeen-year-old Kel Keller navigates life as the poor kid in a rich school and pins his hopes on what seems like a promising baseball career?if he can untangle himself from his family drama. The link between this unlikely pair is Kel's mother, Charlene, a former student of Arthur's. After nearly two decades of silence, it is Charlene's unexpected phone call to Arthur?a plea for help?that jostles them into action. Through Arthur and Kel's own quirky and lovable voices, Heft tells the winning story of two improbable heroes whose sudden connection transforms both their lives. Like Elizabeth McCracken's The Giant's House, Heft is a novel about love and family found in the most unexpected places.

Editorial Review

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Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

1. Why do you think Arthur has isolated himself? What kind of connection does he want, and does he find it?
2. Is it possible for the characters of Heft to free themselves from the behaviors, the characteristics, and even the physical objects (a house, for instance) they inherit from their parents?
3. Several of the main characters in Heft are outsiders. How does one’s inability to “belong” shape his or her character in the long term? Did the novel reinforce boundaries between different groups? Who appear to be the outsiders in the book?
4. From Charlene to Yolanda to Marty to his neighbor’s wife, Suzanne, Arthur seems more comfortable in the company of women. Why do you think that is? What do you make of these platonic relationships?
5. Why do you think Charlene kept the identity of Kel’s father a secret, even when she knew she was going to die?
6. Do you think Kel will continue to search for his biological father now that he knows Arthur isn’t his? Should he?
7. What are the aspirations of the characters in Heft? When is it important for us to strive for something more, and when do those same impulses become harmful?
8. Why do you think the author chose to tell this story from multiple perspectives? Did it affect how you perceived these characters? What about your impression of the novel as a whole?
9. Both Arthur and Charlene struggle with different types of addiction. Did either of their compulsive behaviors strike you as more dangerous or unacceptable than the other?
10. Is it possible to divide the characters in Heft into those who help others and those who are dependent on others’ help? Are there examples of mutual support, too?
11. Arthur and Kel still have not met at the novel’s close. What do you think will happen between the two of them when they do meet? Are you optimistic about their futures?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Praise:

“A suspenseful, restorative novel from one of our fine young voices.” — Colum McCann

“Arthur Opp is heartbreaking. A 58-year old former professor of literature, he weighs 550 lbs., hasn’t left his Brooklyn apartment in years and is acutely attuned to both the painful and analgesic dimensions of his self-imposed solitude. Kel Keller, a handsome and popular high school athlete whose mother drinks too much to take care of him or even herself, faces his own wrenching struggles. The pair, apparently connected only by a slender thread, at first seem unlikely as co-narrators and protagonists of this novel, but they both become genuine heroes as their separate journeys through loneliness finally intersect. Though Moore’s narrative is often deeply sad, it is never maudlin. She writes with compassion and emotional insight but resists sentimentality , briskly moving her plot forward, building suspense and empathy. Most impressive is her ability to thoroughly inhabit the minds of Arthur and Kel; these are robust, complex characters to champion, not pity. The single word of the title is obviously a reference to Arthur’s morbid obesity, but it also alludes to the weight of true feelings and the courage needed to confront them. Heft leads to hope.” — People Magazine

“This is the real deal, Liz Moore is the real deal -- she's written a novel that will stick with you long after you've finished it.” — Russell Banks

“Heft is a work that radiantly combines compassion and a clear eyed vision. This is a novel of rare originality and sophistication.” — Mary Gordon

“In Heft, Liz Moore creates a cast of vulnerable, lonely misfits that will break your heart and then make it soar. What a terrific novel!” — Ann Hood

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by bonmorgan (see profile) 04/13/16

 
  "Heft"by suemoros (see profile) 06/25/15

Stories were interesting but the ending was annoying. Felt like the author just stopped in the middle of a thought.

 
  "Interesting story, but..."by stephers85 (see profile) 07/17/14

The majority of our members were distracted and disappointed with the writing style. We found the story compelling enough to want to continue reading, but the story didn't get anywhere. The ending, or... (read more)

 
  "Heft"by mx10sen (see profile) 04/07/14

I enjoyed the character development, but was left disappointed. I felt we only got a glimpse into the story and what it supposed to tie them together was left incomplete. I didn't quit understand the style... (read more)

 
  "Touching, Optimistic"by Susanne Scheppmann (see profile) 01/07/13


I liked this book and I would have rated this book 4 stars or higher, but can’t justify it due to the ending and the ampersands. I do think it is a worthwhile read, but be prepared for d
... (read more)

 
  "I Love a Book That Makes Me Cry"by Katha (see profile) 06/06/12

 
  "Heft"by kkeef (see profile) 03/23/12

 
  "Heft: A Novel"by brendahull (see profile) 03/23/12

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