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When We Argued All Night: A Novel Paperback – June 12, 2012
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“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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Like Jonathan Lethem's new DISSIDENT GARDENS, Alice Mattison's 2012 novel concerns Jewish families in twentieth-century New York City. Read morePublished on November 20, 2013 by Paul Spagnoli
The author captures a history time line with much panache but it is somewhat slow moving. We come to like, not love, the two main protaganosts but the book skips around too much... Read morePublished on September 15, 2013 by henry
This is a wonderful book, encompassing the life-long friendship between two men. Alice Mattison is called a "writer's writer" for a reason. Read morePublished on July 27, 2013 by Reena Ben-Ephraim
The reviews for the book range from "one of the best ever" to "I had to throw the book away". I loved it but I wonder if that's because I'm a contemporary of Brenda's, I'm from... Read morePublished on June 22, 2013 by Lynne S. Davis
I don't understand how a book like this gets so much "critical" acclaim or why an apparently capable writer wrote such a dull book. Read morePublished on June 20, 2013 by Amazon Customer
Long and boring. I didn't feel any connection to the characters and didn't care about any of them..
Was glad when I finally got through it,
This book was not worth the time to read. The characters were awful, the story was weak. Don't waste your time.Published on February 17, 2013 by Magda Kuhn
setting and characters, new york city, second world war,mccarthy era two jewish lefties and their families, at least one lesbian character, all potentially of interest. Read morePublished on February 10, 2013 by Johanna W Bos
I would argue that Brenda did not need overalls and tools to come out as a lesbian. Artie and Harold are terrific characters and their lives kept me interested. Read morePublished on December 28, 2012 by Deborah Vahab