The means not to be boring is what drives the characters in Meg Wolitzer’s aptly named--and deeply resonant--new novel, The Interestings.
This self-dubbed group meets as teenagers at a performing-arts camp in the ’70s, and from the get-go they’re on a mission to do something of importance. You know the type: wickedly sardonic, disdainful of the in crowd, almost bursting with ambition.
But within the circle there are also certain archetypes: Ash, the ethereal actress; Goodman, the underachieving heartthrob; Jonah, the sensitive guitarist (and the son of a Joan Baez-type folk musician); Cathy, the too-sexy-for-her-own-good dancer; Ethan, the dopey, preternaturally talented cartoonist.
And then there is Jules, who remains unsure of both her talent and her place within the group.
The Interestings is essentially Jules’s story, and as we jump back and forth between the past and present, Wolitzer creates an epic scope while honoring the nuances of these specific friendships through the years.
Ultimately, a terrible scandal disrupts the clique, and certain characters go on to great acclaim while others flail and struggle. But through it all, Wolitzer’s pitch-perfect attention to group dynamics reigns supreme.
It’s not what the characters do that interests her. It’s how and why they do it.