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Heft: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Liz Moore
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (281 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“A stunningly sad and heroically hopeful tale. . . . This is a beautiful novel about relationships of the most makeshift kind.”—O, The Oprah Magazine


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 difficult family life. 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 shatters their isolation. Told with warmth and intelligence through Arthur and Kel’s own quirky and lovable voices, Heft is the story of two improbable heroes whose connection transforms both their lives. It is a memorable, heartbreaking, and ultimately redemptive novel about finding sustenance and friendship in the most surprising places.


Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Moore’s endearing novel, following The Words of Every Song (2007), looks at the lives of two solitary characters learning to acknowledge and accept their troubled realities of family and providence. Fifty-eight-year-old Arthur Opp, a college professor turned morbidly obese recluse, lives in a dilapidated house in Brooklyn, where his only human connection is through correspondence with a former student, the vulnerable and lonesome Charlene. When Charlene unexpectedly contacts Arthur with the news that she is the mother of a teenage son, Kel, Arthur is compelled to reflect upon and refocus his life, tenuously striking up a friendship with his young cleaning woman. Meanwhile, Kel is a gifted high-school athlete who depends on his physical prowess to navigate his interpersonal relationships. Kel’s dream of becoming a professional athlete is well within reach, yet his ambition is confounded by his mother’s alcoholism. When Charlene attempts suicide, Kel is left to forge a life of his own. As the book shifts between the perspectives of Arthur and Kel, Charlene’s connection to the two characters reveals surprising junctures along the way. --Leah Strauss

Review

''A suspenseful, restorative novel from one of our fine young voices.'' --Colum McCann, National Book Award-winning author

''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, bestselling author of The Red Thread

''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, Pulitzer Prize finalist

''Heft is a work that radiantly combines compassion and a clear-eyed vision. This is a novel of rare originality and sophistication.'' --Mary Gordon, New York Times bestselling author

''Only a hardhearted reader will remain immune to Kel's troubled charm.'' --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

''The last line of Liz Moore's novel is still rounding through my head weeks after I finished it, and I think it will be for a long time. Heft is a gorgeous book that will completely break your heart and then stitch it back together . . . This is one of those rare books that manages to be deeply and genuinely moving without ever sinking into sappiness, and I will be recommending it far and wide, particularly to book groups. There is nothing I love more than spreading the word about a beautiful novel, and I look forward to doing so with Heft.'' --Publishers Weekly

''Moore's lovely novel is about overcoming shame and loneliness and learning to connect. It is life-affirming but never sappy.'' --Library Journal

''Endearing.'' --Booklist (starred review)

Product Details

  • File Size: 482 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (September 4, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005LW5K20
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,991 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
87 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story with heart and heft January 15, 2012
Format:Hardcover
I have to tell you, this novel grabbed me from the opening pages, which take the form of a confessional letter from former professor, Arthur Opp, to his long-ago student and long-time correspondent, Charlene Turner. They haven't seen each other in years, and Arthur has a lot to confess.

"The first thing you must know about me is that I am colossally fat. When I knew you I was what one might call plump but I am no longer plump. I eat what I want & furthermore I eat whenever I want. For years I have made very little effort to reduce the amount that I eat for I have seen no cause to. Despite this I am neither immobile nor bedridden but I do feel winded when I walk more than six or seven steps, & I do feel very shy and sort of incased in something as if I were a cello or an expensive gun."

The fact that he weights somewhere between 500-600 pounds is just the beginning of Arthur's confession. He states, "In my letters to you these past two decades I have been untruthful by omission." He admits that not only has he not taught in years, but that he hasn't left his house in over a decade. He ends the lengthy missive, "In spite of everything, at heart I am still the same Arthur.

I'm going to stop right here and suggest there may be two kinds of reader responses to Arthur Opp, sympathy or revulsion. My immediate response was sympathy for this lonely man who fantasizes about salvation in the form of Dr. Phil. If your immediate response was revulsion, this is not the book for you.

As it happens, Charlene hasn't been entirely truthful about the details of her own life. And because so many stories follow predictable and formulaic patterns, early on in this novel I thought I knew the story I was reading.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What consitutes a family? January 19, 2012
Format:Hardcover
Heft is a wonderful story that will make you want to rethink what the word "family" really means.

Arthur Opps once was a college professor, but that was 18 years ago. Now, Arthur is a 58 year-old shut in who weighs in excess of 500 lbs. His best friend, who lived next door, passed away in 1997, and the last time Arthur has left his house in Brooklyn was in September 2001. The internet has made his reclusive life easy, since food and anything else he needs is delivered right to his front door. He has no family, no friends, no job, and no one to talk to, so over the years, his only comfort has come from the food he consumes, and occasional letters from a former student named Charlene Turner, who was 20 years younger than him.

Charlene and Arthur were two lost souls. Both were sad and lonely people, who spent hours talking over the course of the semester. When the class was finished, Charlene never took another course, but began to write Arthur letters. First he was rather shocked, but when he lost his job soon after, to him she seemed like the only friend he had.

(Arthur)...."And partly it was that I recognized myself in her---in her awkwardness, her loneliness, her being very out of place, an outsider in a roomful of compatriots. These feelings I recognized as my own. She spoke differently than her classmates. She had that accent, which I came to love, and that hopefulness that won me completely. One of the things I loved most about her, what I valued, was her lack of awareness."

Then abruptly the letters stopped, until one day many years later she contacts Arthur to reveal a little more about her life, and to ask him a favor.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Heartfelt, but uneven and ultimately unsatisfying May 28, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I guess I am in a small minority here, but this book let me down. It was at times beautifully written, and the story had heart, but....

I purchased the book because of the rave reviews and the very promising sample, which introduces the reader to Arthur Opp - a unique, quirky but utterly believable and intriguing character. However, beyond the sample, the book quickly shifts to the point of view of Charlene's son, whose present-tense, 17-year-old voice did not ring true to me. I have spent time with plenty a teenaged boy; this one was too poetic, adultly perceptive, and, frankly, female, to be believed, especially for a non-academically oriented, athletic kid who experienced as hardscrabble an upbringing as his. As such, I did not find his story as intriguing or believable as Arthur's and much of the book focused on him. At certain points, I found myself grazing over his chapters, some of which went on at weary length about his baseball practice session, or difficult encounters with friends, so that I could get back to Arthur's story, as he ever-so-reluctantly began to emerge from the obesity-enshrouded chrysalis, thanks in part to another quirky but believable character, Yolanda. Don't get me wrong, I felt compassion toward the boy's plight anroutines or him despite not quite believing in him. But ultimately, I felt the focus on his story cheated me out of having more time to spend in Arthur's infinity more interesting company. As for Charlene - her character remained too much of a mystery, and her sad, selfish choice, the crux of the story, was never adequately explained. And finally, the ending left me hanging... I am the type of reader who needs just a little more resolve than this book offered.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars cute, easy, fast read
I really enjoyed this story. It was a cute, easy read. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes to read a lot. I really liked the characters and it kept my attention.
Published 21 hours ago by Wannabe Julia C
4.0 out of 5 stars Heft
Heft is a very different story. About two lost souls who find each other in an interesting way. Tho they can't help themselves they some how help each other. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Janet B.
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
The book club I belong to enjoyed it and all gave it a three
Published 14 days ago by Betty Walkiewicz
5.0 out of 5 stars POIGNANT, POWERFUL, AND HEARTBREAKING
Heft is the heartbreaking story of two lonely, damaged, people who fail to grasp their one chance of attaining happiness. Read more
Published 26 days ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed every page of this book
I enjoyed every page of this book.. It was a page turner.. I did not want it to end.. Speaking of the ending I felt I wish it would have wrapped things up a bit.. Read more
Published 1 month ago by stephanie
5.0 out of 5 stars A personal favorite
I enjoyed Heft so much. Wonderful. Highly recommend.
Published 1 month ago by BookWorm
4.0 out of 5 stars I really liked this book
I really liked this book. I liked the way she really stayed with the characters until you knew them. The book did not take the direction I thought it would. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book
I loved this book. I wanted there to be a sequel so I could find out what happens to the characters!
Published 2 months ago by cher4sc
3.0 out of 5 stars If you like drama (I laughed I cried ) then read
Well written, If you like drama (I laughed I cried ) then read it
Published 2 months ago by mythe
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading
This was a pretty interesting read. I don't want to spoil the story for anyone but the interaction between the two protagonists was fascinating as were the voices used to describe... Read more
Published 2 months ago by W. Fuller
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More About the Author

Liz Moore is a writer, musician, and teacher.

She wrote most of her first novel, THE WORDS OF EVERY SONG (Broadway Books, 2007), while in college. The book, which centers on a fictional record company in present-day New York City, draws partly on Liz's own experiences as a musician.

After the publication of her debut novel, Liz released an album, BACKYARDS, and obtained her MFA in Fiction from Hunter College. In 2009, Liz was awarded the University of Pennsylvania's ArtsEdge residency and moved from New York to Philadelphia. She has taught Creative Writing at Hunter College and the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Writing at Holy Family University in Philadelphia.

Her second novel is HEFT (W.W. Norton, January 2012).

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