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When We Argued All Night: A Novel Paperback – June 12, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Original edition (June 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062120379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062120373
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #845,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“WHEN WE ARGUED ALL NIGHT provides a surprisingly intimate look at a lifelong friendship.” (Shelf Awareness)

“Mattison always operates in both close-up and wide angle, and here the effect is often dazzling. Her prose is so crisp that along with all the pleasures of fiction she manages to deliver the particular intellectual satisfactions of an essay or a documentary.” (New York Times Book Review)

From the Back Cover

Two young men are swimming naked in an Adirondack lake when they hear a motor, a car appears, and two women get out, one with an orange scarf around her head. It's 1936: New York is suffering through the Great Depression, frightening things are happening in Europe, and Artie Saltzman and Harold Abramovitz, friends since their Brooklyn childhood, are unsure about everything—jobs, lefty politics, women. After this time in the mountains, nothing will be quite the same.

From World War II to the McCarthy-era witch hunts, through work, marriages, and life with children, Artie and Harold turn to each other, whether for solace or another good argument. And when Artie's daughter Brenda comes of age during the 1960s, her struggles with jobs, love, and friendship in yet another period of political turmoil recall Artie and Harold's youth.

A sweeping yet intimate novel about people who never stop loving one another despite everything life throws at them, When We Argued All Night illuminates a friendship over more than sixty-five years, as the twentieth century gives way to the changed yet recognizable times in which we live.


More About the Author

Alice Mattison grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and now lives in New Haven, Connecticut. Her new novel, WHEN WE ARGUED ALL NIGHT--about a friendship between two Brooklyn Jews that lasts for many decades, about the tumultuous events of the twentieth century, and about a woman slowly discovering who she is and whom she loves--has just been published by Harper Perennial. Her earlier books include NOTHING IS QUITE FORGOTTEN IN BROOKLYN, IN CASE WE'RE SEPARATED: CONNECTED STORIES, and THE BOOK BORROWER. Twelve of her short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, and her stories, essays, and poems have been published in The New York Times, The Yale Review, The Pushcart Prize, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. She teaches fiction in the MFA program at Bennington College. Her website is www.alicemattison.com.

Customer Reviews

There are plenty of good novels written with these characters and settings.
Jill Meyer
We come to like, not love, the two main protaganosts but the book skips around too much and has no real consistency.
medina
Mattison shows us these characters, warts and all, without ever relinquishing her tenderness toward them.
David A. Feingold

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 22, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I often wonder how any fiction gets written because it must be difficult for an author to come up with a time and place and characters. Most fiction writers take the easy way out and use stock characters - "the beautiful, wealthy, and brilliant young woman", "the handsome, wealthy, and brilliant young man", "the alcoholic/neglectful/battering/crazy mother/father/step parent/sister/brother", any character ripped off from Jane Austin, vampires, etc. Mix these stock characters together, along with a stock setting - NYC, LA, London, Regency England, or "the future" - and you have the average novel these days. And there's really nothing wrong with an author taking this route; it all depends on what s/he does with it. There are plenty of good novels written with these characters and settings.

But author Alice Mattison has taken a step from the conventional and has written a novel, "When We Argued All Night", peopled with characters we mostly haven't seen before. While being set in a time period often used- the post-WW2 period up to the present - Mattison's characters and her inventive plot takes her book away from the "usual". Arthur Saltzman and Harold Abramovitz - both born in 1910 and from Jewish immigrant families - are life-long friends. Sometimes in the course of the 60 year period of the book their friendship waxes and wanes but mostly they are there for each other. Both men have been scarred by the McCarthy years when they lost teaching jobs, but Harold has bounced back a little better than Artie, who winds up working in a family-owned shoe store til years later he regains his teaching job. Both men marry and have two children but the direction their marriages and children take are, again, different.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By David A. Feingold on July 13, 2012
Format: Paperback
I loved this book, for a lot of different reasons! First, because it's quirky and funny and sad all at the same time, which is the way we live our lives. There is a great deal of wisdom in these pages, not the least of which is that men, too, can have lifelong friendships, which rise and fall over the course of years, and impact their emotional lives in all sorts of ways. Artie and Harold certainly live their lives independent of each other, but they use each other as a benchmark throughout their seventy year friendship, sometimes in a very conscious way, and other times without even realizing they are doing it. Their friendship is at times swamped by envy or anger or competition or incomprehension, but their affection for each other abides, and in the end they can't imagine life without each other.
The story is at once deeply personal and broadly sweeping in its perspective: we see this friendship against the backdrop of all the major historical events that marked twentieth century life in America -- the Depression, World War II, the McCarthy era, the sixties and VIetnam, the end-of-millenium crisis of confidence (political, personal, financial) -- but never lose sight of the fact that these events are happening to real people, not in the history books. Even more profound is the sense that, no matter how outside events act on these two men, they can really only be themselves, and their children, no matter how carefully they are raised, are subject to the same law, so that their lives ultimately unfold with a certain air of inevitability, irrespective of reversals and successes. Mattison shows us these characters, warts and all, without ever relinquishing her tenderness toward them.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kim on June 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
I found this book in my local independent bookstore and bought it on a whim. I had never heard of Alice Mattison, but the story appealed to me. It reminds me of Chabon's The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, yet quieter. Artie reminds me of Olive in Olive Kitteridge. To be cranky and be loved--is there any deeper love?

Mattison must have lost a parent to have been able to write about the end of Artie's life. Beautiful and unlike anything I've read. She trumps Joan Didion in the death and dying department.

After finishing the book and letting it settle into my bones, I found myself dancing and sobbing. It opened my heart and cracked open the inevitable grief that comes with living. As I read, I kept thinking something might happen (dramatic plot) and was so grateful that Mattison didn't need the flash of plot to teach us about living, loving, family and friendship.

I wish Mattison had returned to Myra especially after an important event in the story. Who was she? I never got a sense. If anything, Mattison left so much more to explore..namely the wives.

A favorite part: "Brenda knew that her mother(Evelyn) often cried in the bathroom. Evelyn criticized Artie when he left his things around, told Brenda secrets, or didn't mark his students' papers until late at night. Brenda thought it was unimportant that her father did these things. Her father could speak in the voice of a horse, and for years Brenda had not been certain than an invisible horse named Prancy didn't live under their kitchen table. Artie could sing and whistle and make up limericks; she herself had known how to make up a limerick since she was four. He had opinions about everything, from what her teacher did to what the president did.
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