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3rd May
2011
written by Steph

Sorry for the recent spate of blog neglect, faithful readers. Real life has been rather hectic as I spent much of April preparing to present a proposal for a series of studies I intend to carry out in pursuit of my doctoral degree to my committee, a task I completed (successfully!) yesterday. It turns out that graduate school is a rather time-consuming and mentally exhausting endeavor at time, so I apologize for using my spare time for little more than movie watching and video game playing. Now that writing a 60 page document is out of the way, I hope that I'll find the vim and vigor to resume my duties here at S&TI! To kick things off this month, I reviewed Siri Hustvedt's newest novel, The Summer Without Men, over at BookPage. This was my first Hustvedt novel, but I can assure you, it shan't be my last. I was blown away by the intellectual depth that is present in her writing, and I loved the complex female dynamics and innerworkings that she explored in this novel. I tore through it due to my looming review deadline, but truly this is a book meant to be read slowly and thought about deeply. I will very much need to read it again, in part because Hustvedt's prose is so deceptively simple that it's all too easy to chug it down when you really should be sipping. If you're at all interested in fiction that features women so real it's like looking in a mirror, then get yourself a copy of this book posthaste! For more details, you can read my full review here.

18 Comments

  1. I haven’t read any Hustvedt, but she is one of those novelists who I am sure I’ll love and so have collected a few of her books already. It is great to hear that you enjoyed this one so much – I’ll try to read one of her books soon.

  2. 05/03/2011

    I’ve read What I Loved by Hustvedt and it’s absolutely brilliant! It’s hard to imagine she has written a better book than that one. I’m looking forward to The Summer Without Men. I’m waiting for an eversion. Do you know she’s married to Paul Auster? There are some similarities in their work.

  3. 05/03/2011

    I haven’t read this author at all so am so glad for the heads up. Welcome back.

  4. steph, i couldn’t get the link to your review to work–is it my computer? i’m eager to read what you had to say! let me know as i’m looking forward to reading it.

  5. 05/03/2011

    I had not heard if this author, but your Book Page review makes me think i should seek her out right away. Thanks for the intro.

  6. 05/04/2011

    @ Jackie: I’ll really be curious to see how your respond to Hustvedt’s writing. I really liked this book, but it didn’t have a very forceful plot, something I know you tend to value in the books you read. That said, it’s such a good book, it is definitely well worth your time!
     
    @ Mrs B.: I have What I Loved so I will have to read that next! I have no idea how this compares to any of Hustvedt’s other books, but it is encouraging to hear that you responded to strongly to her past works.
    I did know that she is married to Auster, though I admit, this book seemed entirely Hustvedt’s own… Perhaps as I read more of each, I’ll see more of the similarities…
     
    @ Mystica: Thanks! I really didn’t mean to be away for so long, but you know how these things go…
     
    @ nat: The BookPage server is kind of sad at times, so I think the site was down for a bit yesterday… Checked this morning and it is back up, so you can read away!
     
    @ jenn: I think you’d really like Hustvedt! Such a shame she isn’t better known! She’s one smart cookie!
     
    @ zibilee: Ugh. Real life has been such a beast of late, but hopefully I’ll have the next few months to blog free and clear! I really hope you pick up this book; I think you’d really enjoy it!

  7. 05/04/2011

    I was just beginning to wonder where you had gone to! I am glad to see you back, and glad to see that you liked this book so much. I am off to see what all the fuss is about!

  8. 05/04/2011

    Yay for you being back and reviewing books that have really cool covers 🙂 I LOVE the cover on this one.

  9. 05/05/2011

    … and that cover looks great! I’m reading An Object of Beauty right now because of you and really liking it – thanks for the tip. I’ll add this one to the wishlist as well.

  10. 05/05/2011

    I hope you are playing some good video games. I am also jealous about this. As soon as my semester is over, I’m looking forward to getting to the new Donkey Kong Country Returns that has been sitting my by Wii since Christmas, waiting to be DEMOLISHED!

  11. 05/05/2011

    Congrats on your proposal! Love the review although it sounds too depressing for me. But I loved the line “Mia suggests that “there is no human subject outside the purview of literature,” a principle embodied by this very novel.” Very, very provocative.

  12. 05/06/2011

    This has had excellent reviews in the British press and I’d like to read it. I think I’ll wait for the paperback though. Glad you are having a break from academia, Steph!

  13. 05/09/2011

    @ Aarti: It is a great cover, isn’t it? I always like it when ARCs are as pretty as the official finished copies and my copy looked exactly like this!
     
    @ Alex: Oh, I’m so glad you’re enjoying AOoB… I loved that book so much! It was my first encounter with Steve Martin and I was SO impressed.
     
    @ Kari: We rented DKCR for our Wii and were really enjoying it… but then I got frustrated because it suddenly got super hard all of a sudden. I will have to try it again some day. Lately we’ve been fixating more on Just Dance 2 and Portal 2.
     
    @ rhapsody: I know it sounds like a depressing premise for the book, but it is actually not a book without hope! I admired Hustvedt’s ability to go to dark places, but I didn’t feel like she painted a bleak picture for me in the end.
     
    @ Nicola: I think you would really enjoy reading this one, but I completely understand waiting for the paperback. I would probably do the same if I hadn’t had the chance to grab the ARC!
     
    @ Nymeth: Yes, proposals are all encompassing, though now I fear the real work begins! I’ve heard that writing up the final product (i.e., my dissertation proper) will be even more absorbing…
     
    @ Dorothy: I have a copy of What I Loved but I’ve not read it yet… I’m really looking forward to it, but have no real idea what to expect. I believe Sasha over at Sasha & the Silverfish is our resident book blogging Hustvedt expert.
     
    @ charley: If you can handle Paul Auster, then you can definitely handle Hustvedt. I really hope you enjoy it!

  14. 05/08/2011

    Hooray for finishing proposals! Mine was for an MA, so rather more modest in scope, but it still completely swallowed my life for the past month or so. It’s great to see you back, Steph. And I love the sound of this book.

  15. 05/08/2011

    I clearly need to read her again. What I Loved didn’t quite work for me, but I think I might have missed something and going back would be worth it. Or perhaps I should just move on to this one.

  16. 05/09/2011

    I have a copy of this on my bookshelf, so I’m glad to hear it’s good. I think it’s sitting next to one of her husband’s books… maybe Sunset Park.

  17. 05/14/2011

    Your review makes me giddy and not just because you liked Hustvedt, haha; it’s so straightforward and spot-on to my experience–the diversity of the tone and content, but always with one goal in mind: Mia, her womanhood.

    So many bloggers whose tastes run parallel-ish to mine loved this — and promise to read more of her. Which has had me thinking about what the reaction to all the other books would be: when I started to read this, I realized that it was distinct from her other books — it feels like this one and What I Loved are from two rather separated parts of a spectrum. BUT I HAVE FAITH. Ahem.

  18. 05/15/2011

    @ Sasha: How interesting that you found this book to be somewhat atypical for Hustvedt; now I’m even more intrigued by her and can’t wait to see what she has in store. I wonder how she would handle a more conventional narrative, though of course, I’d be happy to read whatever she writes!

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