Excerpt from The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Interestings

by Meg Wolitzer

The Interestings
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2013, 480 pages
    Mar 2014, 544 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Elizabeth Whitmore Funk

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

A cartoon sprang up on a sheeted wall. "FIGLAND," read the credits, and antic characters began to prance and splat and jabber, speaking in voices that all sounded a little bit like Ethan. The characters on the planet Figland were alternately wormy, phallic, leering, and adorable, while in the excess light from the projector Ethan himself was touchingly ugly, with a raw sheath of arm skin etched with its own ugly dermatological cartoon. On Figland, characters rode trolleys, played the accordion on street corners, and a few of them broke into the Figmangate Hotel. The dialogue was sharp and silly at the same time. Ethan had even created a Figland version of Spirit-in-the- Woods—Figment-in-the-Woods—with younger versions of these same cartoon characters at summer camp. Jules watched as they built a bonfire, then paired off to make out and even, in one case, have sex. She was mortified by the humpy, jerking movements and the sweat that flew in the air, meant to signify exertion, but her mortification was immediately painted over by awe. No wonder Ethan was beloved here at camp. He was a genius, she saw now. His cartoon was mesmerizing—very clever, and very funny. It came to an end and the film flip-flapped on its reel.

"God, Ethan," Jules said to him. "It's amazing. It's totally original."

He turned to her, his expression bright and uncomplicated. This was an important moment for him, but she didn't even understand why. Incredibly, her opinion seemed to matter to him. "You really think it's good?" Ethan asked. "I mean, not just technically good, because a lot of people have that; you should see what Old Mo Templeton can do. He was sort of an honorary member of Disney's Nine Old Men. He was basically the Tenth Old Man."

"This is probably really stupid of me," said Jules, "but I don't know what that means."

"Oh, no one around here knows. There were nine animators who worked with Walt Disney on the classics—movies like Snow White. Mo came in late, but he was apparently in the room a lot too. Every summer since I've been coming here, he's taught me everything, and I mean everything."

"It shows," said Jules. "I love it."

"I did all the voices too," Ethan said.

"I can tell. It could be in a movie theater or on TV. The whole thing is wonderful."

"I'm so glad," Ethan said. He just stood before her smiling, and she smiled too. "What do you know," he said in a softer, husky voice. "You love it. Jules Jacobson loves it." Just as she was enjoying hearing the strange name said aloud, and realizing that already it had become a far more comfortable name for her than dumb old Julie Jacobson, Ethan did the most astonishing thing: he thrust his big head toward hers, bringing his bulky body forward too, pressing himself upon her as if to line up all their parts. His mouth attached itself to hers; she'd already been aware that he smelled of pot, but up against her he smelled worse—mushroomy, feverish, overripe.

She yanked her head back, and said, "Wait, what?" He had probably reasoned that they were at the same level— he was popular here but still a little bit gross; she was unknown and frizzy- headed and plain, but had captured everyone's attention and approval. They could join together, they could unite. People would accept them as a couple; it made both logical and aesthetic sense. Though she'd gotten her head free, his body was still pressed against her, and that was when she felt the lump of him—"a lump of coal," she could say to the other girls in her teepee, eliciting laughs. "It's like, what's that poem in school—'My Last Duchess'?" she would tell them, because at least this would demonstrate some knowledge of something. "This was 'My First Penis.' " Jules backed up several inches from Ethan so that no part of her was in contact with any part of him. "I'm really sorry," she said. Her face was hot; certainly it must have been turning red in various places.

Excerpted from The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. Copyright © 2013 by Meg Wolitzer. Excerpted by permission of Riverhead Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  New York City in the 1970s

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
  • Book Jacket
    by Tom Jackson
    Growing up in Mumbai in the '70s, I still remember herbs kept fresh in small glasses of water, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Les Parisiennes
    by Anne Sebba

    How the women of Paris lived, loved, and died under Nazi occupation.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    North of Crazy
    by Neltje

    The remarkable life of a woman who carves her own singular path.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Cruel Beautiful World
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A fast moving page-turner about the naiveté of youth and the malignity of power.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.