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From bestselling and award-winning author Alice Mattison comes a breathtaking new novel following two best friends from Brooklyn, exploring the way in which the world and their lives change over the course of the 20th century. The deft literary touch that readers have grown to love in novels such as Nothing Is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn and The Book Borrower, as well as s From bestselling and award-winning author Alice Mattison comes a breathtaking new novel following two best friends from Brooklyn, exploring the way in which the world and their lives change over the course of the 20th century. The deft literary touch that readers have grown to love in novels such as Nothing Is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn and The Book Borrower, as well as story collections such as In Case We’re Separated, combine in a marvelous narrative of friendship and family, with rich, complicated characters who grow and change together over the course of seventy-five years. Fans of generational stories such as East of Eden, or novels of friendship such as The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, will be swept away by the intimate beauty of Mattison’s latest triumph, When We Argued All Night.


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From bestselling and award-winning author Alice Mattison comes a breathtaking new novel following two best friends from Brooklyn, exploring the way in which the world and their lives change over the course of the 20th century. The deft literary touch that readers have grown to love in novels such as Nothing Is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn and The Book Borrower, as well as s From bestselling and award-winning author Alice Mattison comes a breathtaking new novel following two best friends from Brooklyn, exploring the way in which the world and their lives change over the course of the 20th century. The deft literary touch that readers have grown to love in novels such as Nothing Is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn and The Book Borrower, as well as story collections such as In Case We’re Separated, combine in a marvelous narrative of friendship and family, with rich, complicated characters who grow and change together over the course of seventy-five years. Fans of generational stories such as East of Eden, or novels of friendship such as The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, will be swept away by the intimate beauty of Mattison’s latest triumph, When We Argued All Night.

30 review for When We Argued All Night

  1. 4 out of 5

    Wisteria Leigh

    Along a lake in the the Adirondack Mountains, near a cabin in the woods, Artie Saltzman and Harold Abramowitz friends since the third grade thought they had the place to themselves for a week. In 1936 they were 26 and had no money and no girls, but that was about to change. Two women arrived claiming to be the daughters of the owner. Although a bit skeptical the two men agreed to share their cabin. Better yet, the women have money and they leave with the promise to bring back dinner. Mattison begi Along a lake in the the Adirondack Mountains, near a cabin in the woods, Artie Saltzman and Harold Abramowitz friends since the third grade thought they had the place to themselves for a week. In 1936 they were 26 and had no money and no girls, but that was about to change. Two women arrived claiming to be the daughters of the owner. Although a bit skeptical the two men agreed to share their cabin. Better yet, the women have money and they leave with the promise to bring back dinner. Mattison begins her story during The Great Depression, and the novel is a historical field trip through the decades with Artie and Harold two friends, witnesses who lived through it. Their cohesive bond of friendship seems eternal. They experienced World War II, and are shocked and weep when the chairman of the World Jewish Congress confirmed the extermination of approximately two million Jews in Germany. The year is 1942. Roosevelt dies in 1945. When the Feinberg Law is passed in 1949 teachers are at risk; however, the Red Scare infiltrates the lives of Americans everywhere. It is during this time when Harold and Artie would argue all night. Harold now a professor and Communist Party Member is at risk, but it is Artie who must face a difficult decision that would alter their friendship forever. As the decades pass, the air raid drills of the Fifties and the Civil Rights struggle of the Sixties are further anchors of history that add vivid realism to Mattison’s novel. Artie and Harold could be anyone, male or female, young or old, who embrace the love of friendship and the power to forgive. Alice Mattison has a magic writing pen. Without a doubt readers will praise When We Argued All Night, is an irresistible story with universal appeal. This review appeared in Historical Novels Review November 2012, Issue 62 Disclosure: A print copy of this book was provided by HNR for review. © [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2013].

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ken Harvey

    I can't remember a novel with characters so real, so complex, so completely believable. They will stay with me a long, long time. I can't remember a novel with characters so real, so complex, so completely believable. They will stay with me a long, long time.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Reena Ribalow Ben-Ephraim

    This is a wonderful book, written by a writer with a depth of understanding, true wisdom, empathy and a unique and living voice.Mattison's world is full of flawed people and rich relationships, and the personal always connects to the outer forces of the world around it.This, in fact, is Mattison's vision; the only constant is human love, which binds us to each other and to history, and which both hurts and redeems us. Mattison can make you laugh and bring you to tears, sometimes in only a few se This is a wonderful book, written by a writer with a depth of understanding, true wisdom, empathy and a unique and living voice.Mattison's world is full of flawed people and rich relationships, and the personal always connects to the outer forces of the world around it.This, in fact, is Mattison's vision; the only constant is human love, which binds us to each other and to history, and which both hurts and redeems us. Mattison can make you laugh and bring you to tears, sometimes in only a few sentences.What more could one ask?

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Full disclosure: my sister gave me this book, is friends with the author, and did the interview with Mattison in the back of the book. Also full disclosure: that means nothing, because Ann and I have always had different tastes in books since we were little kids, and I'd have no qualms about telling her I didn't like it for whatever reason. But: I LOVED When We Argued All Night. I started reading it on the way home from camp on Saturday, misplaced it for two days in my knitting bag, found it, an Full disclosure: my sister gave me this book, is friends with the author, and did the interview with Mattison in the back of the book. Also full disclosure: that means nothing, because Ann and I have always had different tastes in books since we were little kids, and I'd have no qualms about telling her I didn't like it for whatever reason. But: I LOVED When We Argued All Night. I started reading it on the way home from camp on Saturday, misplaced it for two days in my knitting bag, found it, and finished it Wednesday night. The narrative style drives the book forward: as many European-published books seem to do, it uses dashes instead of quotation marks, and while the early sections of the book are delineated by years, the last 1/3 or so may make big jumps in time without much indication of change. In addition, a paragraph may start with a character's comment, but Mattison might seque right into his/her thoughts without any ado, so it's important to keep one's attention on what's happening. Mattison certainly crams a lot of the 20th/21st century into this story: the Depression, the acclimation of immigrant families to living in the US, WWII, the Red Scare, the civil rights movement, the 60's, the development of the LGBT rights movement--but it doesn't feel like a textbook or a list. Instead, she creates a rich tapestry of what it must have felt like to have lived through those various events, how they changed (or didn't change) people's daily lives and outlooks. Artie stays more or less the same, while Harold reinvents himself and reflects deeply on that reinvention; by the end of the book, when both men are 94, I had a vivid sense of how human experience just keeps unfolding and reoccurring. Mattison's ability to recreate historical environments reminds me of Michael Chabon's work in Kavalier and Clay--rich, deep, and somehow feeling real. I also have to recognize the fantastic cover design by Robin Bilardello--the book looks appealing, with the cover photo reminding us that actual people populate the photos from the past! Other bonuses: lots of references to New England--somehow books that mention familiar territory delight me. Also, Mattison does a fantastic job with her descriptions of the joys and traumas of teaching: Harold and Artie love teaching for different reasons, but her description of each man's reasons is insightful, valid, and respectful: they're not just in it for June, July, and August, as so many people think. Good people, honoring teaching, a wonderful, familiar setting. . . there's also terrific writing. I'll close with some of my favorite passages. This is a terrific book. Bravo, Alice Mattison! "Boredom and hostility are easy to detect." (112) "Harold couldn't resist the curious ones." (116) "Jumping from a subway platform was such an easy, obvious way for New Yorkers to die that it was unthinkable and unspeakable, and for the first days and weeks the primary effort of them all--parents, relatives, doctors, and nurses--was to look past Nelson's act and only at the bruises, the broken leg, as if he'd fallen when out for a walk. Harold could not ask why, . . . because the answer had the coming train in it: it was what Nelson had chosen to accept, the train reaching his body." (184) "She enjoyed marching too much for someone who was supposed to be angry." (194) An amazing passage about parental worry: "Nelson lived in Harold's upper abdomen--maybe where his diaphragm was. It had loosened, just because Harold had found him and his face looked better, but while he washed his hands, it was as if someone behind him had tightened a band around his body." (234)

  5. 4 out of 5

    A.

    This novel reads like a small, quiet story, but it gradually takes on the scope of an epic. Mattison follows the lives of Artie Saltzman and Harold Abramovitz through most of the 20th century. She's able to touch on the Great Depression, McCarthy and Vietnam by focusing on these two men and their families. Artie and Harold become public school teachers in New York after World War II. They both enjoy their careers until McCarthyism and Harold's past complicate their lives. Harold's flirtation with This novel reads like a small, quiet story, but it gradually takes on the scope of an epic. Mattison follows the lives of Artie Saltzman and Harold Abramovitz through most of the 20th century. She's able to touch on the Great Depression, McCarthy and Vietnam by focusing on these two men and their families. Artie and Harold become public school teachers in New York after World War II. They both enjoy their careers until McCarthyism and Harold's past complicate their lives. Harold's flirtation with communism is fascinating and Artie's reaction to his friend's actions is also well done. Despite personal difference in lifestyle, temperment (Artie is a real hothead) and life choices these two remain friends. Mattison also explores their families and delves fairly deeply into the life of Artie's daughter Brenda (an accidental 1960s protester). The book moves quickly with the decades flying by. The sense of place that Mattison brings to the material starting with a lovely interlude at a lake in the Adirondacks provide the story's ballast. She beautifully evokes postwar New York and Brooklyn. She returns to the lake home over and over again and the she's at home from the George Washington Bridge to the promenade in Brooklyn.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Libby

    This novel chronicles the friendship of Harold Abramovitz and Artie Saltzman from teenagers to old age, and in so doing includes the historical events they lived through: McCarthyism, the Vietnam War, the 60s. While they both become teachers in the NYC public school system, they lose their jobs because of McCarthyism witch hunts. Harold continues his education and becomes a college professor and a literary scholar; Artie takes a job in his wife's father's shoe store until he gets reinstated as a This novel chronicles the friendship of Harold Abramovitz and Artie Saltzman from teenagers to old age, and in so doing includes the historical events they lived through: McCarthyism, the Vietnam War, the 60s. While they both become teachers in the NYC public school system, they lose their jobs because of McCarthyism witch hunts. Harold continues his education and becomes a college professor and a literary scholar; Artie takes a job in his wife's father's shoe store until he gets reinstated as a teacher years later when the furor has died down. Themes of sexual identity, infidelity, and mental illness are woven into the narrative, which has a commanding sweep up to nearly the present day (when Barack Obama spoke at the Democratic National Convention and first came to public prominence). The reader comes to know and care about the characters, becoming intimately involved in their lives. A masterful achievement and a great read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Keith

    This is simply a terrific novel. It covers 70 years of the exhilarating lives of two friends. It's their own comings-of-age as well as that of their children and grandchildren. In 400 dialogue-driven pages, the reader experiences WWII and the Holocaust, the McCarthy Era, Vietnam, the counterculture movement and the Reagan years. "When We Argued All Night" is a brilliant chronicle of the 20th century and all of the principal characters are richly developed. There's very little not to like about t This is simply a terrific novel. It covers 70 years of the exhilarating lives of two friends. It's their own comings-of-age as well as that of their children and grandchildren. In 400 dialogue-driven pages, the reader experiences WWII and the Holocaust, the McCarthy Era, Vietnam, the counterculture movement and the Reagan years. "When We Argued All Night" is a brilliant chronicle of the 20th century and all of the principal characters are richly developed. There's very little not to like about this deeply human novel. It hits on every major life event and tragedy in a very real and raw manner. Birth and death; love, lust and deceit; child-rearing and parental care are dealt with so realistically. Mattison has clearly led a rich life and here she teaches us all how to make sense of it all. Bravo.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    Alice Mattison is a force for good in the world. I love the way her characters keep discovering things about themselves, and the way that her prose itself makes unshowy points about who people are and why they are the way they are, even if they can't figure this out themselves. Not to mention that she's writing New-York-Jewish fiction, as ever from what feels like personal experience (the grubbiness and low-watt careers are a nice corrective to all of the Norman/Irving success stories out there) Alice Mattison is a force for good in the world. I love the way her characters keep discovering things about themselves, and the way that her prose itself makes unshowy points about who people are and why they are the way they are, even if they can't figure this out themselves. Not to mention that she's writing New-York-Jewish fiction, as ever from what feels like personal experience (the grubbiness and low-watt careers are a nice corrective to all of the Norman/Irving success stories out there). And it's wonderfully pro-arguments, both in politics and as a mode of life. Why she's not extremely famous and well-appreciated is beyond me. Bit of a deus ex machina ending for my taste, but not entirely out of the realm of plausibility. And I suppose the best part is that what could read as a happy ending doesn't.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Marc A.

    I loved this book, it perfectly fit the kind of read I was looking for at this time. I characterize the themes and style as Philip Roth meets John Updike. Author Alice Matison acheives taking a view - at times prospective, at time retrospective - of the life of two families as it revolves around the the lifelong arguments that characterize the relationship of the two main characters ( Harold Abramovitz and his friend, Artie Salzman) from their youth in The Depression, through the horrors of The I loved this book, it perfectly fit the kind of read I was looking for at this time. I characterize the themes and style as Philip Roth meets John Updike. Author Alice Matison acheives taking a view - at times prospective, at time retrospective - of the life of two families as it revolves around the the lifelong arguments that characterize the relationship of the two main characters ( Harold Abramovitz and his friend, Artie Salzman) from their youth in The Depression, through the horrors of The McCarthy period, through the culure wars of the Viet Nam War all the way into old age and death of Artie in the early the early 21st century. And this in a mere 358 pages. She creates characters you care about and - remarkably to my mind - believably expresses the mental processes of the male characters.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer S. Brown

    I am in absolute awe of Mattison's ability to write a novel that spans from 1930s to 2002, and to do so seamlessly and beautifully. The story follows the friendship of Artie and Harold, friends since the 3rd grade. From the meeting of their eventual wives to the births of their children, the heartaches of parenting, the two remain friends, although it's a difficult friendship with envies and inequities. The story plays out over the drama of the 20th century, with the two men both losing teaching I am in absolute awe of Mattison's ability to write a novel that spans from 1930s to 2002, and to do so seamlessly and beautifully. The story follows the friendship of Artie and Harold, friends since the 3rd grade. From the meeting of their eventual wives to the births of their children, the heartaches of parenting, the two remain friends, although it's a difficult friendship with envies and inequities. The story plays out over the drama of the 20th century, with the two men both losing teaching jobs in the Red Scare, politics playing in the background of their lives, shaping what the do and believe. The story meanders and we eventually follow Artie's daughter Brenda as well. What particularly struck me is how well Mattison captured the two aging. By the end of the book, I was teary.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Scott Schneider

    An enjoyable trek through most of the 20th century with two close friends and their families, through trials and tribulations and the significant events of the century from World Wars to McCarthy all the way up to Obama's nominating speech in 2004. Many of the characters are not pleasant. They certainly aren't perfect. But then again no one is and life is messy. But they are always interesting. It was almost like a memoir and in fact morphs into a memoir at the end by one of the characters. Than An enjoyable trek through most of the 20th century with two close friends and their families, through trials and tribulations and the significant events of the century from World Wars to McCarthy all the way up to Obama's nominating speech in 2004. Many of the characters are not pleasant. They certainly aren't perfect. But then again no one is and life is messy. But they are always interesting. It was almost like a memoir and in fact morphs into a memoir at the end by one of the characters. Thanks for the recommendation Keith.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    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 thei 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. One of the most remarkable features of the novel is that a certain acceleration occurs toward the end of these friends' long lives -- both in their own experience, and in the tone of the book itself. I felt myself swept along toward the end, as though the author was trying to say that, contrary to popular opinion, old age is the most exciting time of life, that we must believe to the very last day that the best part is yet to come. Because of this the book, which is in no way sentimental, still manages to be overwhelmingly hopeful. In this way, I believe it fulfills a primary function of literature, which is to elevate the reader who takes the time to read this beautifully crafted book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Judith Slawson King

    The story of lifelong friends and New Yorkers Artie Saltzman and Harold Abramovitz unfolds at a leisurely pace from Depression-era Brooklyn into the first decade of the 21st century. This gently blundering pair of Everymen pays the price for youthful idealism when in the prime of their lives they lose their treasured teaching jobs to a McCarthy-era purge of alleged Communists within the school system. Alice Mattison does not idealize nor glamorize Artie and Harold,treating them not as generation The story of lifelong friends and New Yorkers Artie Saltzman and Harold Abramovitz unfolds at a leisurely pace from Depression-era Brooklyn into the first decade of the 21st century. This gently blundering pair of Everymen pays the price for youthful idealism when in the prime of their lives they lose their treasured teaching jobs to a McCarthy-era purge of alleged Communists within the school system. Alice Mattison does not idealize nor glamorize Artie and Harold,treating them not as generational archetypes but as ordinary mortals struggling to support families, and keep their integrity intact as best they can, deftly rendering them engaging and sympathetic protagonists with their share of mistakes and flaws. In the same vein, Artie’s daughter Brenda does not emerge as a stereotype of the flamboyantly rebellious Sixties Generation. Born in1941, she is too old to be a Boomer and too young to be a Silent. Brenda is a muted figure who gradually defines herself through her liberal beliefs and the strength she finds to eventually bring purpose and substance to her chaotic personal life. Like her father and his friend, Brenda is not a larger-than-life character; rather, she grows slowly, gradually surmounting difficulties stemming from both external and internal sources to live the fuller life she shapes for herself.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kasey Jueds

    I'm very picky about the fiction I read these days, and Alice Mattison is one of my favorite, favorite fiction writers. I think I've read everything she's written. I was a bit slow to fall in love with WWAAN, but then I finally did... Mattison has such a knack of making me feel for all her characters, across the board, even the ones who are not particularly likeable (as one of the main characters here, Artie, is not--at least not to me). Even he is so human, so loveable even though I'd probably I'm very picky about the fiction I read these days, and Alice Mattison is one of my favorite, favorite fiction writers. I think I've read everything she's written. I was a bit slow to fall in love with WWAAN, but then I finally did... Mattison has such a knack of making me feel for all her characters, across the board, even the ones who are not particularly likeable (as one of the main characters here, Artie, is not--at least not to me). Even he is so human, so loveable even though I'd probably loathe him if I actually knew him. Her other protagonist, Harold, IS both likeable and loveable... and her lesser characters too, even the ones who only occupy a few pages, feel absolutely real to me. Like Tessa Hadley (another favorite, favorite fiction writer), Mattison seems to see right into people's deepest hearts--and then she's able to say what she sees, somehow, simply and beautifully and rightly.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jackie D

    I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. This was a story about long-lasting friendships and attachments. I kept waiting for something to happen to the main characters, Harold and Artie...but what was happening was in the world around them. They lived through joining the Communist party, the Great Depression, World War II, McCarthyism, Vietnam, and even modern-day war with Iraq. Many times they protested what they thought was wrong in the world and I did admire that. I felt th I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. This was a story about long-lasting friendships and attachments. I kept waiting for something to happen to the main characters, Harold and Artie...but what was happening was in the world around them. They lived through joining the Communist party, the Great Depression, World War II, McCarthyism, Vietnam, and even modern-day war with Iraq. Many times they protested what they thought was wrong in the world and I did admire that. I felt that this book was more about the radical changes that went on in the 20th century around these two men. The one constant in their world was their long-term friendship in an ever-changing world. The book made me wonder which of my friends will still be in my life when I am in my dotage... For me, the feel of this book was somewhat reminiscent of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    I think this is somewhere between 3.5 to 4 stars for me. I struggle it quite a bit for a while; I wasn’t immediately drawn in. But something compelled me to press on, despite not really loving (or even liking) any of the characters. They are complex, though, and their acts of love are there but hard to see—which felt true to life, and to that generation and particularly this specific kind of NY Jewish characters. There was much that reminded me of my own familial life between parents and grandpa I think this is somewhere between 3.5 to 4 stars for me. I struggle it quite a bit for a while; I wasn’t immediately drawn in. But something compelled me to press on, despite not really loving (or even liking) any of the characters. They are complex, though, and their acts of love are there but hard to see—which felt true to life, and to that generation and particularly this specific kind of NY Jewish characters. There was much that reminded me of my own familial life between parents and grandparents, and sometimes that was more uncomfortable than not. As I kept on, I grew to like everyone better — well, maybe I grew “fond of” the characters is more accurate. They grew deeper and more interesting, for the most part. I struggled at times with the homage-to-Hemingway feel the book sometimes imparted, and I don’t understand why authors can be so loathe to use quotation marks. But I think overall this was a rewarding read and I was glad I pressed on, especially as I found myself thinking about the characters in the interspaces of time when I wasn’t reading (always a sign that a book is having an impact!). It’s familiar territory, this NY Jewish progressive intellectual family, so it felt a bit like home.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Aurora

    After reading Wallace Stegner's "Crossing to Safety," I craved more books about honest friendship and complex lives. I wanted to spend time with characters who thought about principles and calling., and I wanted to think about life as process. This book slowly became beautiful and contemplative in just those ways. I wasn't sure at first, but suddenly almost every page gave me something to re-read or laugh over. The people are sparsely but perfectly drawn -- you know their essentials. The timing After reading Wallace Stegner's "Crossing to Safety," I craved more books about honest friendship and complex lives. I wanted to spend time with characters who thought about principles and calling., and I wanted to think about life as process. This book slowly became beautiful and contemplative in just those ways. I wasn't sure at first, but suddenly almost every page gave me something to re-read or laugh over. The people are sparsely but perfectly drawn -- you know their essentials. The timing turned out to be personal for me, as my own beloved, complex, and high-achieving grandpa died while I was reading this book; the book is true. I'll return to this book as I mull over vocation and my motivation and methods for doing good in this world. This is perfect, from her Wikipedia page: Mattison's writing has been characterized in a review of "When We Argued All Night" (The New York Times Sunday Book Review): "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."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    I inhaled this book! Sweeping generational epics are not usually my favorites, but this one exceeded all my expectations. Not one single character in this (not-small) cast of two 20th-century families intertwined by strong bonds of friendship and politics lacks depth, nor is anyone without flaws as well as virtues. Plucking moments historic for their impact alongside ones minute in their intimacy, Mattison frequently echoes Doctorow in both style and substance, yet the tale remains entirely its o I inhaled this book! Sweeping generational epics are not usually my favorites, but this one exceeded all my expectations. Not one single character in this (not-small) cast of two 20th-century families intertwined by strong bonds of friendship and politics lacks depth, nor is anyone without flaws as well as virtues. Plucking moments historic for their impact alongside ones minute in their intimacy, Mattison frequently echoes Doctorow in both style and substance, yet the tale remains entirely its own animal. This is the first of her work that I have read and I can't wait to get to more.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Eleanora

    A tale of two old friends, and the way that relationships ebb and flow throughout decades of our lives. Really love the ties this book makes to generations of our families and the complications this can have for our understanding of this concept.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jes

    I wanted to like this book, I really did, but I struggled with it. I think this was due to my inability to connect with the characters, but maybe you'd have better luck. I wanted to like this book, I really did, but I struggled with it. I think this was due to my inability to connect with the characters, but maybe you'd have better luck.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Howard

    A good summer read by a lake...because part of the book takes place near a lake. Life long story of two friends in NYC who affected by the Communist witch hunts of the 50's... A good summer read by a lake...because part of the book takes place near a lake. Life long story of two friends in NYC who affected by the Communist witch hunts of the 50's...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I got bogged down in this.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Geller

    I usually really like Mattison's writing but I found myself bored and skipping through the book. It is a book that I imagine people who lived through that time and that world ( Brooklyn and New York - Jewish lefties) would find their own story here. I felt that she showed the complications of the characters lives well but the book crammed in so much historical stuff it felt less like a novel and more an essay on a generation coming of age in the Depression. It was a story that reminded me of sto I usually really like Mattison's writing but I found myself bored and skipping through the book. It is a book that I imagine people who lived through that time and that world ( Brooklyn and New York - Jewish lefties) would find their own story here. I felt that she showed the complications of the characters lives well but the book crammed in so much historical stuff it felt less like a novel and more an essay on a generation coming of age in the Depression. It was a story that reminded me of stories from my parent's generation - off maybe by a decade - recognizable but ultimately it didn't engage me but I could imagine why other people liked it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    I finished it. I enjoyed it immensely as a piece of history, as a story about flawed individuals (aren't we all?), as a story about generations, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, and all the messes we make of our relationships. And how history can muck with our personal luck or fortunes, or not and some of us do okay anyway. This was a story that related to my life but also didn't so it was interesting and helpful and nuanced. I like this writer very much -- first book of hers that I finished it. I enjoyed it immensely as a piece of history, as a story about flawed individuals (aren't we all?), as a story about generations, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, and all the messes we make of our relationships. And how history can muck with our personal luck or fortunes, or not and some of us do okay anyway. This was a story that related to my life but also didn't so it was interesting and helpful and nuanced. I like this writer very much -- first book of hers that I've read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Susan Messer

    This is my favorite kind of book, with a story that emerges like a vine from the earth--strong, natural, inevitable. People do screwed-up things, people do heroic things, and loving things. It's a rich stew of friendships and family, developing over decades. Mattison is a wonderful writer. Now (1/15) I'm rereading this for my book group. Finished the second reading and looking forward to the group's discussion. There are few books that I take the time to read twice, but one can see so much more This is my favorite kind of book, with a story that emerges like a vine from the earth--strong, natural, inevitable. People do screwed-up things, people do heroic things, and loving things. It's a rich stew of friendships and family, developing over decades. Mattison is a wonderful writer. Now (1/15) I'm rereading this for my book group. Finished the second reading and looking forward to the group's discussion. There are few books that I take the time to read twice, but one can see so much more the second time around--details missed, structural underpinnings, leitmotifs.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    I have read many of Alice Mattison's books, and this one I will keep as I loved it. It follows the friendship of two men from the 1930's to the present. It takes place in N.Y. and the descriptions in each decade felt familiar and real, which added something for me as I grew up in N.Y. The book felt very real to me, not in the sense of factual, but in the sense of how people live and carry on over time and through adversity. I have read many of Alice Mattison's books, and this one I will keep as I loved it. It follows the friendship of two men from the 1930's to the present. It takes place in N.Y. and the descriptions in each decade felt familiar and real, which added something for me as I grew up in N.Y. The book felt very real to me, not in the sense of factual, but in the sense of how people live and carry on over time and through adversity.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    this book should get 5 stars for quality of writing, i think. but i really didn't enjoy reading it. didn't like the two main characters and really didn't care about them. but the book did an amazing job of capturing a huge span of time beautifully and weaving in so much. but i still kept thinking "am i done yet?" while i was reading it. i liked the last third better when the story moves on to the children of the two characters. this book should get 5 stars for quality of writing, i think. but i really didn't enjoy reading it. didn't like the two main characters and really didn't care about them. but the book did an amazing job of capturing a huge span of time beautifully and weaving in so much. but i still kept thinking "am i done yet?" while i was reading it. i liked the last third better when the story moves on to the children of the two characters.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I'm not one to abandon a book because of pretentiousness, but for some reason, this book's pretentiousness really got to me. All the quoteless dialogue, the statement of the characters' flaws as if it were interior monologue, the lifeless progression from one life event to another. It felt like the author had taken on a bet that she couldn't write like a man and this was her proof to the contrary. Unfortunately, she sounds more like a stilted Hemingway than anything else. I'm not one to abandon a book because of pretentiousness, but for some reason, this book's pretentiousness really got to me. All the quoteless dialogue, the statement of the characters' flaws as if it were interior monologue, the lifeless progression from one life event to another. It felt like the author had taken on a bet that she couldn't write like a man and this was her proof to the contrary. Unfortunately, she sounds more like a stilted Hemingway than anything else.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    A tale of friendship between two men that spans most of the 20th century. Complex, challenging - it left me thinking about the nature of friendship, why and how we choose friends and lovers. There's an interesting plot thread regarding the communist party in the US. The pub date is 6/12/12 - pre-order! Not a beach read as much as a rainy day at the cottage read. Enjoy! A tale of friendship between two men that spans most of the 20th century. Complex, challenging - it left me thinking about the nature of friendship, why and how we choose friends and lovers. There's an interesting plot thread regarding the communist party in the US. The pub date is 6/12/12 - pre-order! Not a beach read as much as a rainy day at the cottage read. Enjoy!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    Lots of ambivalence about this book, but mostly I liked it. I liked the characters, I liked the story, I liked the writing, but I was so aware of the author's control of everything that sometimes I felt uncomfortable reading it. It was like she was writing about the characters' emotional lives without much emotion. Lots of ambivalence about this book, but mostly I liked it. I liked the characters, I liked the story, I liked the writing, but I was so aware of the author's control of everything that sometimes I felt uncomfortable reading it. It was like she was writing about the characters' emotional lives without much emotion.

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