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"A Little Life" by Hanya Yanagihara

Since discussion of this novel is taking up space in the book recommendation threads, here is a place to discuss Yanagihara's soon-to-be Man Booker Prize winner of 2015.

Is it the Great Gay American Novel we've all been waiting for?

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by Anonymousreply 394May 21, 2020 2:16 PM

Out of all the disturbing scenes in this book, I think the two that stuck out to me the most were, oddly enough, from Jude's present/adult life. The first was when JB imitated him and his gait which was somehow more horrifying than the atrocities from his childhood because it was done by someone he trusted. The second was the final beating from Caleb which I basically read through tears. When he kicked him down the stairs, I had to put the book down for a couple days because I was so utterly disturbed.

by Anonymousreply 1August 19, 2015 4:44 PM

Straight woman who writes of a NYC 80s with no AIDS impact on the characters. I was young. I was there. This is ridiculous!

by Anonymousreply 2August 19, 2015 4:49 PM

R2, this quote from Yanagihara was quite illuminating for me, especially while getting through the latter half of the novel: [quote]“Everything in this book is a little exaggerated: the horror, of course, but also the love. I wanted it to reach a level of truth by playing with the conventions of a fairy tale, and then veering those conventions off path. I wanted the experience of reading it to feel immersive by being slightly otherworldly, to not give the reader many contextual tethers to steady them.”

And then, from the book review in The Atlantic, this: [quote]"To understand the novel’s exaggeration and its intense, claustrophobic focus on its characters’ inner lives requires recognizing how it engages with aesthetic modes long coded as queer: melodrama, sentimental fiction, grand opera."

The author purposely left out contextual tethers such as AIDS, 9/11, in order to boil down the focus on the characters interiority. It was a bold choice and I think the popularity of the novel very much paid off. Hell, Willem wins an Oscar at one point and she doesn't even call it one! So it's not like she decided to erase AIDS from the history of these men.

by Anonymousreply 3August 19, 2015 4:57 PM

Despite the acclaim and enthusiasm of that review the impression i got of this book is not positive: seems like a turgid mess of hyper-drama set in an empty, astorical world

by Anonymousreply 4August 19, 2015 5:00 PM

well ok then I'll give it a try. but it sounds precious, fetishistic and condescending in a way that asians could be, in the 7 Sisters / Ivy league circuits of my youth

by Anonymousreply 5August 19, 2015 5:03 PM

R2/R4/R5 all sound like the same person.

by Anonymousreply 6August 19, 2015 5:09 PM

I am R2 and R5 but not R4. But I will give it a go. Might like it, one never knows.

by Anonymousreply 7August 19, 2015 5:11 PM

I'm R4 and not the other posters: maybe you think wr sound similar because we have good taste

by Anonymousreply 8August 19, 2015 5:29 PM

Who are these haters coming out who admit to not even having read the book yet? Bizarre.

Best book I've read in many years. Simply an unforgettable experience. I wouldn't crack it open though unless you're ready to take an intense emotional journey.

by Anonymousreply 9August 19, 2015 5:35 PM

Nobody's interior life was free of HIV in the 80s. I'm guessing it never occurred to her.

by Anonymousreply 10August 19, 2015 7:20 PM

This is why they tell young authors: wrote about what you know, do not write just to have written something or be famous or be an author. Have something to communicate.

by Anonymousreply 11August 19, 2015 7:21 PM

R11=Bill Clegg, another Man Booker longlist nominee.

by Anonymousreply 12August 19, 2015 7:38 PM

I'm tempted to read the book but molestation and child abuse are soft triggers of mine. I can tolerate it in literature if I can escape it after two or three paragraphs. From the feedback I've seen it appears that the physical and sexual abuse goes on for pages and pages.

by Anonymousreply 13August 19, 2015 7:52 PM

R13, this might not be the book for you. There is a lot of child sexual abuse and pedophilia in the book. And it doesn't just end after 2-3 paragraphs.

by Anonymousreply 14August 19, 2015 7:55 PM

Thank you, R14. I've read many good things about the book and I assume there is a good reason she went into such detail, but I'll have to pass.

by Anonymousreply 15August 19, 2015 8:03 PM

Count me among the people who loved it. I read a lot, and this is the best thing I've read in a very long while. The comparison to melodrama is interesting, and not one I thought of until I read it here. I think some might find the emotional scenes too much, but I certainly didn't. It's really something special and worth picking up if you like to read.

by Anonymousreply 16August 19, 2015 8:39 PM

I'mm going to ignore this thread until I've finished reading it :D

by Anonymousreply 17August 19, 2015 8:46 PM

"So it's not like she decided to erase AIDS from the history of these men. "

But she did, Blanche. She did erase AIDS from the history of these men.

by Anonymousreply 18August 19, 2015 8:50 PM

I really really thought I was going to escape it. I was young, well employed, learned about safe sex before I graduated and left my small town campus. And then the shit hit the fan in 1988 and it was more than 5 years of aids trauma. And all my friends the same, and Im talking about the HIV+ ones. They all hat about an aids drama, or two or three, even thought the years were different.

by Anonymousreply 19August 19, 2015 9:00 PM

I mean I'm talking about the HIV- ones... The HIV+ friends and lovers were dying of course, causing the drama and trauma. Nothing in the book? Its weird.

by Anonymousreply 20August 19, 2015 9:01 PM

I've only read half the book and just recently stopped. Simply too grim. But I may well pick it up and continue as it's staying with me.

I don't really understand why there's no historical context to the events. I don't see how that makes for better storytelling.

However, I love Dickens and this book reminds me a lot of David Copperfield. Characters who are either unremittingly evil but then balanced by characters who are beyond good and generous.

And there's not a lot of historical context in David Copperfield, or possibly much of Dickens. But because it's set "long ago and far away", it's permissible in Dickens....for me.

by Anonymousreply 21August 19, 2015 9:29 PM

The Authouress:

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by Anonymousreply 22August 20, 2015 1:54 AM

Less glammed version:

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by Anonymousreply 23August 20, 2015 1:55 AM

One wonders what possessed her to write this book about these 4 men.

It also surprises me that, considering this is only her 2nd book, she didn't have a stronger, pushier editor to tell her to cut 100 pages (at least). IMHO it would be a stronger book with less. I felt much the same about The Goldfinch but I'd imagine editors can't push Donna Tartt around.

by Anonymousreply 24August 20, 2015 2:09 AM

The Goldfinch did not grab me, I found it a slog and then abandoned it.

by Anonymousreply 25August 20, 2015 2:10 AM

That fucking crackhead whore was on the long list for the Booker?? FUCK THAT NOISE.

by Anonymousreply 26August 20, 2015 2:43 AM

One of the best novels I read this year. Epic and Intense

by Anonymousreply 27August 20, 2015 2:50 AM

Don't hate, r26, it so ages one.

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by Anonymousreply 28August 20, 2015 3:02 AM

So does Cleggs junkie memoire suck?

by Anonymousreply 29August 20, 2015 3:07 AM

All the Light You Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is rife with unbearable human pain and suffering yet positive and triumphant in its conclusion.

by Anonymousreply 30August 20, 2015 3:33 AM

Clegg could get it. My cock that is

by Anonymousreply 31August 20, 2015 4:02 AM

Abandoned "A Little Life" after 20 pages. I think it's one of those books you have to be in a certain mood to read, like Tartt's "The Goldfinch".

by Anonymousreply 32August 20, 2015 4:12 AM

is that Franco on the cover? wtf

by Anonymousreply 33August 20, 2015 4:13 AM

Me too, R25. I couldn't force myself to continue reading. I put it down and haven't picked it up again.

A Little Life stays with me when I'm not reading. I'll be cleaning the kitchen after dinner and something from the novel replays in my mind. I'm rather enjoying the myopia that comes from not having a historical context. We know where they live and what they do, but those surroundings don't create or destroy their lives. I'm only about halfway through, so I know there will be more of that.

by Anonymousreply 34August 20, 2015 4:13 AM

R30, I loved every single word in that book.

by Anonymousreply 35August 20, 2015 1:51 PM

I loved the ahistorical nature of the book. It's a bold choice and Yanagihara sustains it through 700+ pages.

The last fifty pages of this novel are exalting. The conclusion is utterly inevitable.

by Anonymousreply 36August 20, 2015 2:08 PM

There are always people on DL who love to hate the acclaimed and admired before they've read or seen it. Beats me as to why.

As for AIDS, it is included, but not named. And it isn't set in the 80s. She deliberately avoids setting it in any specific time period, as has been mentioned before.

It's a book I adored, but find it hard to discuss thoroughly before reading it a second time, which I plan to do, eventually.

by Anonymousreply 37August 21, 2015 6:13 PM

The guys all came of age in the 1990s, NOT the 1980s. They are texting in their early twenties.

by Anonymousreply 38August 21, 2015 6:57 PM

I imagine the '80s is when Jude is going through most of his major hardships (getting pimped out in motel rooms, raped at the home by the counselors and his imprisonment by Dr. Traylor). But those events are not explicitly time-stamped which is a choice of the author's I can respect.

by Anonymousreply 39August 21, 2015 7:01 PM

Also, Jude was clearly a kid in the Internet age. Brother Luke was part of an online pedophile network. Remember how he packed up his laptop every time he left Jude alone in the motel room?

by Anonymousreply 40August 21, 2015 7:01 PM

Loved it. Harrowing and intense, but that's my kind of book.

by Anonymousreply 41August 21, 2015 7:02 PM

Thanks, OP, for starting this thread.

by Anonymousreply 42August 21, 2015 7:07 PM

What made that one critic say that "none of the characters are really gay"?

by Anonymousreply 43August 21, 2015 7:11 PM

I would agree. None of the 4 are really gay.

by Anonymousreply 44August 21, 2015 10:02 PM

r43, it was the critic of the WSJ, who loved the book. He is perplexed as to why it's being called "the big gay novel." I disagree with him.

by Anonymousreply 45August 21, 2015 11:11 PM

Is this book free anywhere online? Did everyone who read it here either pay for it or get it from the library?

by Anonymousreply 46August 21, 2015 11:22 PM

R44, JB is 100% gay in the novel. There's no question about that.

Malcom is at least bi-curious (there's an early reference to his intense crush on Willem which is never revisited as the focus of the novel shifts). Willem, I would say, is at least bi, leaning towards women. He mentions having slept with both before he embarks on a relationship with Jude. Jude is essentially asexual with all his experience (consented or not) having been with men.

by Anonymousreply 47August 22, 2015 2:39 PM

The motel room scenes are just haunting. How can groups of men gang-fuck a ten-year-old? I appreciate that Yanagihara didn't get super-detailed in those scenes.

Makes me think of that thread awhile back devoted to the UK pedophile network at Dolphin Square.

by Anonymousreply 48August 24, 2015 6:39 PM

R38, the 90s were also AIDS-centric. More so, even.

by Anonymousreply 49August 24, 2015 7:45 PM

What is your point, R49? This isn't an "AIDS novel." There are plenty of those if you need to read one (David Feinberg's "Eighty-Sixed" is a great one just off the top of my head).

by Anonymousreply 50August 24, 2015 7:57 PM

R48, and then complain to the pimp that the 10-year-old has "dead eyes."

R49, I would think they were only teens in the 1990s, since Brother Luke was on the Internet when Jude was 10, 11 years old.

by Anonymousreply 51August 24, 2015 10:16 PM

The Dr. Traylor storyline was grotesque, like something out of a Thomas Harris novel. I mean, a sadistic pedophile psychiatrist who runs Jude over with his car?

by Anonymousreply 52August 25, 2015 1:51 AM

Is this book part of the trend of females writing about gay men and creating them as the way they think gay men should be? I've called it playing with gay dolls before. It's happening mostly in the romantic gay novels but I'm wondering do you get the same feeling of fake gay men here as well? Or is it beyond that and is 'real' literature where such things don't matter?

by Anonymousreply 53August 25, 2015 3:39 AM

R50 thank you so much for mentioning David Feinbergs novel. It's one of the most intense books I hav ever read and it really captures the time. I used to see David at the Chelsea Gym and had a huge crush on him. He was very sexy. I just saw the HBO doc on Larry Kramer, and there was scene with David, two weeks before he died, that took my breath away.

I really think those of us who lived through the 80's as gay men have PSD.

by Anonymousreply 54August 25, 2015 3:59 AM

If anyone is looking to this novel for hyper-realism, they should look elsewhere. And it definitely is not "playing with gay dolls." It may not be to everyone's taste, but to me it's a singular and powerful work whose originality is part of its power.

by Anonymousreply 55August 25, 2015 10:11 AM

r53 the characters are not dolls. they are well rounded people. gay romances are hollowed out archetypes that to me are just minstrel shows for the gay community

by Anonymousreply 56August 25, 2015 6:41 PM

I think I missed how Jude ended up with Dr. Traylor. He was hooking with truck drivers and then the next thing I knew, he was sitting in Dr. Traylor's kitchen.

Also, I was expecting to hear how he went from being run over by Traylor to being rescued and ending up under the care of Ana. Weren't they in the middle of nowhere? I'm also surprised that Dr. Traylor let him out of that room in the basement at all. I got the feeling that Jude was not the first young adult to have stayed there.

One last thing: with the extent of Jude's back injuries as described in the "present-day" sections, I was also expecting to get quite a lengthy scene of the torture Jude endured in the barn to get injuries that extensive. To be honest, I was mostly relieved that I didn't have to read these things, but I thought their omission was - glaring isn't the right word - perhaps suspect?

These were very small plot-holes in what I consider THE masterpiece novel of 2015.

by Anonymousreply 57August 25, 2015 6:51 PM

Didn't Traylor find him homeless after he was left abandoned by his pimp/lover's arrest.

by Anonymousreply 58August 25, 2015 11:10 PM

Yes, R58, he was homeless and tricking with truck drivers. But I think I missed the scene (or perhaps forgot it) when Traylor picked him up. I'll have to leaf through the book to find it.

And...didn't Brother Luke commit suicide before he could be arrested? In the bathroom of the motel room they were staying in. I do remember being squeeked out by the detail that he had to "pull out" of Jude in order to go hide in the bathroom when the police came barging in.

by Anonymousreply 59August 27, 2015 7:20 PM

Yes, you're right. The ex-monk killed himself.

by Anonymousreply 60August 28, 2015 2:08 AM

Guess who else is in our little reading group!

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by Anonymousreply 61August 29, 2015 6:57 AM

Please. As if Andy Cohen actually reads.

by Anonymousreply 62August 29, 2015 10:01 AM

Wow. Just, wow. That ending. Beautiful, tragic, soul-crushing. One hell of a book.

I can't imagine this being successfully adapted for film but I'm ready to be proven wrong.

by Anonymousreply 63September 3, 2015 3:27 PM

As an actual abuse survivor, I have no wish to read what a narcissistic millenial frau imagines my life to be, especially when she can't even remember the most important factor of my life in that era.

by Anonymousreply 64September 3, 2015 3:40 PM

A book written by a woman can't be the great gay American novel

Someone at Amazon called it 'tragedy porn'

by Anonymousreply 65September 3, 2015 3:49 PM

She's not a millennial, R64. She's forty years old.

I'm sorry to hear that you're an abuse survivor (if that's even true). Perhaps this isn't the right book for you to read. But your vitriol is seriously misplaced. It's a stunning work of fiction from an exciting new American literary voice.

Btw, you sound like the "Where is the AIDS in this book?!" troll from upthread. I assume you're the same person.

by Anonymousreply 66September 3, 2015 3:50 PM

R64 = Bill Clegg

by Anonymousreply 67September 3, 2015 3:52 PM

Whoever keeps going on about the omission of AIDS in this book (which is mostly set in the 2000s; see the references to the latest technologies, for starters) really shouldn't get involved in this discussion by people who have actually read the book and are trying to understand what the author was trying to do with it. The "narcissistic Millennial" reference is also baseless--in the few interviews with Yanagihara available online, she comes across as modest to a fault, thoughtful, and introverted.

by Anonymousreply 68September 3, 2015 4:08 PM

R64 = the very definition of "closed-minded."

by Anonymousreply 69September 3, 2015 4:23 PM

I believe that's called contempt prior to investigation, R69.

by Anonymousreply 70September 3, 2015 4:27 PM

AIDS is definitely mentioned in the novel. One of the films that Willem stars in is called "The Happy Years" (later it's retitled as "The Dancer and the Stage" following his sudden death) which is about Rudolf Nureyev post-AIDS. Additionally, Jude mentions having diseases from his years as a pimped-out teen and later prostitute that he must disclose to, first Caleb (who says something like " I knew you were a whore") and, later, Willem. The disease could be anything from herpes to being HIV-positive

The author makes a conscious choice not to label certain cultural signifiers. Notice that Willem basically wins an Oscar at some point and it's never referred to as such.

This is the last time I think anyone should respond to the troll who keeps bringing this up. It's derailing what could be some great discussion of the book.

by Anonymousreply 71September 3, 2015 5:15 PM

Well I have a problem in general with tracing back a life's vicissitudes to one or a series of events that were long ago and certainly shaped the person and responses to certain events but were not limiting the future life in the way authors seem to say.

by Anonymousreply 72September 3, 2015 6:25 PM

Did you read the book, R72?

by Anonymousreply 73September 3, 2015 6:28 PM

Great article from the WSJ about the unexpected success of A Little Life:

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by Anonymousreply 74September 4, 2015 3:17 PM

Thanks, r71. You're absolutely on point.

by Anonymousreply 75September 4, 2015 5:49 PM

And to reply to r68, I was lucky enough to attend a small gathering of the books fans with the author earlier this summer. She couldn't have been more self-effacing, modest, and charming.

by Anonymousreply 76September 4, 2015 5:55 PM

Homegirl is keenly aware of New York City's history in the 70s and 80s, and of course the AIDS epidemic - see link - she just chose not to talk about it in her book.

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by Anonymousreply 77September 12, 2015 7:32 PM

And Mr Brad Gooch still looks so boyish at the T Magazine group portrait. Can't find a picture of him from that particular shoot though...

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by Anonymousreply 78September 12, 2015 7:37 PM

Oops linky stinky ^

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by Anonymousreply 79September 12, 2015 7:39 PM

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize! Just announced today.

by Anonymousreply 80September 15, 2015 2:14 PM

I'm a little more than 10% into it, and am enjoying it, though I've never had a harder time remembering which character is which. Let's see. Jude is the lawyer with the back and leg problems, and a penchant for cutting himself. JB is gay, the apple of his every female relative's eye, and is from Haiti. Malcolm is the rich one, half-black, and an architect. He is embarrassed to have anyone see him take a taxi, because none of the other three can afford taxis. Willem is the actor/waiter who is flirting with becoming a waiter/actor. He's straight.

I recall very few physical descriptions, and the author is vague about how they met, other than that it was in college in Boston. One of them took a class at Harvard, but it's unclear whether he was a full time student there. MIT is mentioned, but only vaguely. Same with Cambridge. So I'm guessing they all went to MIT.

I'm liking the book, but I'm failing to see it as the Great Gay Novel. At least, it doesn't seem like it 10% in.

by Anonymousreply 81September 15, 2015 2:46 PM

Oh, and Willem is the best-looking of the four.

by Anonymousreply 82September 15, 2015 2:47 PM

You're very early into the novel, R81. Just wait.

by Anonymousreply 83September 15, 2015 2:54 PM

Is it tragedy-torture-pedo porn?

by Anonymousreply 84September 15, 2015 3:11 PM

R84 = Bill Clegg

by Anonymousreply 85September 15, 2015 3:38 PM

Glad to know this, R83.

by Anonymousreply 86September 15, 2015 3:41 PM

R64 I can understand why you wouldn't want to read such a book but why the misogynistic vitriol? Would it really be any better for you if the author was a man?

Great authors can write about any gender, age or sexuality. It's ridiculous to think that only men can write about men, only lesbians can write about lesbians and so on. It isn't the orientation of the author that matters. It's whether or not they can write well.

by Anonymousreply 87September 15, 2015 4:03 PM

Is she even straight? Not that it matters, but what heterosexual author would populate their book with mostly gay and lesbian characters? (Jude's social worker is a lesbian, as is one of Malcolm's ex-girlfriends and the two women throwing a party who are college friends of "the boys").

by Anonymousreply 88September 15, 2015 4:37 PM

Also urge you to keep at it, Mr. or Ms. 10%. It was a bit of a slog for me, too, until about p.200, and then t was a wild, exhilarating ride.

by Anonymousreply 89September 16, 2015 2:31 AM

I finished the book last night and spent most of today talking about it to friends.

I want to read her first novel but will wait a while.

I think what impressed me most about this novel is how it sticks with the interior life of an abused, depressed man and doesn't sugar coat it with a happy ending. And staying on the subject, however unpleasant it is, gives it an appropriate amount of emotional weight. That is really my problem with the way the media usually deals with difficult subjects. There is either an unrealistic upbeat ending tacked on, or there is the vicarious, gratuitous thrill of the sensational, "taboo" subject-- all of it wrapped up in 45-90 minutes if that. This is 720 pages of not looking away.

I understand r64's aversion to reading the book, but I can tell you this is not that kind of book you fear it to be. But you have just as valid a reason as anyone else does for not reading this book. There's no cult here. Nobody has to drink the Koolaid.

Is the talk about a movie serious? I honestly can't think of a studio that would want to go near it without trying to ruin it. As a friend of mine said, it's NOT a Hollywood ending.

by Anonymousreply 90September 17, 2015 4:38 AM

There's no way a film could match her luxuriant prose, but it might work as a mini-series.

by Anonymousreply 91September 17, 2015 9:35 AM

"A Little Life" has just been long-listed for the 2015 National Book Award.

R91, I think a film adaptation could work as a long-form HBO miniseries. They did an incredible job recently with "Olive Kitteridge" and "Mildred Pierce" before that. Both adaptations stayed utterly true to their respective source materials.

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by Anonymousreply 92September 17, 2015 4:30 PM


by Anonymousreply 93September 17, 2015 5:26 PM

The author said the best day of her life was not the day her first book was published, but the day she received a long email from a reader. She couldn't have sounded any more sincere, too.

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by Anonymousreply 94September 17, 2015 6:08 PM

I finished it yesterday. I chose to ignore the sheer illogic of the book's central relationship, and was suitably saddened when one of the two characters was catapulted out of the other's life. But in looking back, I can't continue to honor that illogic. And then there's the whole point of the book taking us through so many decades, presumably ending in the present, yet people were online and texting throughout. The book could have been written without these pretensions and it would have been that much more successful.

Still, I find the characters unforgettable and am ultimately glad I read A Little Life.


by Anonymousreply 95September 21, 2015 1:15 PM

I tore through it this weekend, and I adored it. I'll admit to having cried a couple of times, and it has been a very long time since a book (or movie or play) has had that effect on me.

I didn't mind at all the ahistorical nature of the novel. I actually really enjoyed that aspect. Oddly, it helped to ground everything, even more so than if there had been historical signifiers. After I finished, I read some interviews with Yanagihara where she mentions that the book is meant to be slightly fantastical and mythic in its renderings. I bought that completely. It was almost magical realism without the magic. The characters were just so beautifully and fully drawn.

I experienced a trauma-filled childhood, and I felt the book did as good a job as any I have ever read at conveying what it is like to live your day to day life in the shadow of those ghosts that never go away.

by Anonymousreply 96September 21, 2015 3:40 PM

R96, what happened to you?

by Anonymousreply 97September 21, 2015 4:18 PM

I have read this novel and on the question of whether it's the "Great Gay Novel," it fails on both counts.

While some parts of the novel are nicely written and affecting, as a whole (and there's a lot of whole -- 720 pages) the prose is plodding and sometimes embarrassingly clunky. One reviewer said it felt like "reading braille aloud."

And as for the gay question. The portrait of gay men in this novel -- such that they exist -- is gross on many levels. Of the four men who form the group of friends at the center of the novel, only one is actually gay. Jude, the book's long-suffering main character isn't really gay (he's "post-sexual," one of the other characters remarks early on). But he's somehow become gay after being repeatedly raped as a young boy. And when, as an adult, he enters into a relationship with a gay man who turns out (of course) to be monstrously abusive, it's the straight male friends who come to the rescue.

The Bay Area Reporter sums up my feelings on this book nicely: "The sensibility isn't gay; it's fag-hag. The book isn't just heteronormative; it's creepy."

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by Anonymousreply 98September 22, 2015 11:12 AM

Interesting to read a variety of perspectives, but it was sloppy of the reviewer @ R98 to get the main character's surname wrong: it's Jude St. Francis, a name that is significant to the story, not "Jude St. James."

by Anonymousreply 99September 22, 2015 12:14 PM

Plus Willem, R98. How in the name of fuck did he end up as Jude's husband?

by Anonymousreply 100September 22, 2015 1:17 PM

I read this book a couple of weeks ago. Feel like I am still processing my reaction to it. I definitely found it very powerful - two weeks on I am still thinking about the characters, and I've started re-reading it. Also been googling every interview I can find with the author, I guess trying to figure out who she is and where she's coming from and what motivated her to write a book like this. Though I don't feel like I've learned that much, as she's obviously a private person.

While I don't think the characters are the 'gay dolls' referred to above, I was struck by some of the similarities to slash fiction written by women about male same-sex relationships: the 'woobie' character on whom agony is poured, the 'hurt/comfort' theme which is popular in slash, the claim that neither of the characters (in the main love affair) is 'really' gay, they're just gay for each other. It's obviously a) better written than a lot of slash, b) about original characters, and c) about a wide range of things, not just romance - but still, I'm struck that it's been so critically acclaimed by a number of mainstream sources, and that in treating it as a literary novel none of them have mentioned or seemed to pick up on the similarities with the 'low culture' (and often mocked) genre of slash.

Posters above have made some interesting points with regards to the way Jude's sexuality (or lack thereof) is handled. It rang true to me that his experiences might have led him to shut down sexually, and the way he is drawn to Caleb who unfortunately replicates the abuse he has already suffered also rings true, but like the poster above I found strange and a bit problematic the suggestion that if he hadn't suffered the abuse from men, he might have grown up to date women. Nothing in his character at any point suggests any romantic/sexual interest in women, and based on the one real-life testimony of a straight man abused by a man that I know of (Edward St Aubyn, whose books are also brilliant though quite different), the experience of abuse, horrendous as it was, did not stop him recognising his own heterosexuality or pursuing relationships with women. So that part of Jude's characterisation is odd to me.

As far as Willem is concerned, I think the relationship with Jude might have come across as more believable if she had acknowledged his bisexuality early on - and what is also pretty clearly his attraction to Jude - rather than dropping it into the story much later as a late surprise, when the reader has been led up to that point to think he is straight. That seemed unnecessary to me, a trick in order to surprise the reader and justify why he and Jude took so long to get together - when I think that could have been better explained by the fact that Jude until after Caleb just didn't seem to Willem to be open to a relationship.

I couldn't help thinking that in Willem's situation it would be more agonising than happy to live and sleep day-in day-out with someone you are overwhelmingly attracted to, who will never want to have sex with you. So the happiness they find together seemed a bit incredible to me, for that reason (even though she acknowledges that it is a compromised happiness). At the risk of being overly literal - I also thought, if he was cuddling Jude every night, wouldn't he sometimes get an erection, and wouldn't that be disturbing to Jude, rather than making him happy in the way she suggests? She's mostly matter-of-fact about sex, so it somehow seemed odd to me to leave that basic fact out.

by Anonymousreply 101September 25, 2015 9:06 PM

Straight males coming to the rescue of an abused gay male? Not likely. Not ever.

by Anonymousreply 102September 25, 2015 9:32 PM

yeah, R102, that's science-fiction!

by Anonymousreply 103September 25, 2015 9:35 PM

I don't like books written by fat people. They have too many agendas. I am sorry, that is just how I feel.

by Anonymousreply 104September 25, 2015 10:31 PM

^^^ God, the morons are out in force this evening.

by Anonymousreply 105September 25, 2015 10:47 PM

R104=Dan Savage. The wonder is you can read at all.

by Anonymousreply 106September 25, 2015 11:06 PM

Die in a grease fire r104!

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by Anonymousreply 107September 26, 2015 7:05 PM

A late but interesting review by Christian Lorentzen in The London Review of Books:

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by Anonymousreply 108September 27, 2015 5:04 PM

Good review, R108.

by Anonymousreply 109September 27, 2015 5:18 PM

[quote]What real person trapped in this novel wouldn’t become a drug addict?

Meow Meow!

by Anonymousreply 110September 27, 2015 6:04 PM

Christian Lorentzen is a contrarian, and contrarians have their place. He's still wrong and doesn't get it.

by Anonymousreply 111September 27, 2015 7:43 PM

What didn't he get, R111? He seems to have read the book I read.

by Anonymousreply 112September 27, 2015 7:57 PM

Does anyone know anything about Jared Hohlt, who the book is dedicated to? I think she mentions him as an inspiration for Willem.

by Anonymousreply 113September 27, 2015 9:32 PM

Chacun a son gout. I loved it.

by Anonymousreply 114September 27, 2015 9:59 PM

Oh, I found it very compelling, R114. But a lot of it made little sense.

by Anonymousreply 115September 27, 2015 10:01 PM

I read for a living (I'm a teacher of literature) and I'm a gay man. I say that not to claim any greater right to evaluate the book, just to situate my position as a reader. I can't remember a book I've hated as much as this one. I feel deeply sad about the plight of the Judes of the world, but the novel is not, IMO, well-written, psychologically astute, or worth the 700+ page investment the author asks of her readers. And there is no growth or development to speak of in Jude, so, by the time the novel ends, I felt as I have witnessed someone with an extreme pathology of repetition compulsion and self-destruction. An object of sorrow and compassion, but not the stuff of tragedy or epic, as the novel would seem to argue. I could not wait to be done with it--I tend to finish books I begin, so it's not that it was compelling in spite of itself, just that, having invested 400 pages of reading, I felt the need to finish it. I do not understand all the awards acclaim for it.

by Anonymousreply 116September 27, 2015 10:31 PM

R111 His is the most insightful review I've read. And "A Little Life" is far from the "great gay American novel"--that's an insult to everyone from Melville to James Baldwin and beyond.

by Anonymousreply 117September 27, 2015 10:39 PM

Was it someone on DL who called it the "great gay American novel"?

Because as we all know, on DL, straight men are actually gay. Kind of like Willem.

by Anonymousreply 118September 27, 2015 10:42 PM

[quote]I felt as I have witnessed someone with an extreme pathology of repetition compulsion and self-destruction.

For many people, that is their reality. They don't grow; they are trapped in a cycle.

[quote]but not the stuff of tragedy or epic

But it never claims to be either. It is a fairy tale, and fairy tales serve a different purpose.

I think perhaps you missed the point.

by Anonymousreply 119September 27, 2015 10:44 PM

I want to add that of course it's not the great gay American novel. Not when we have Melville, or 'Leaves of Grass.' But it's still something a worthy addition.

by Anonymousreply 120September 27, 2015 10:46 PM

'Leaves of Grass' isn't a novel.

'Billy Budd' is a novella. 'Moby Dick' is an insufferably tedious whaling manual with a little bit of plot at the beginning and end, and some admittedly amusing homoeroticism in between.

by Anonymousreply 121September 27, 2015 10:51 PM

R121: You're a bore.

by Anonymousreply 122September 27, 2015 10:52 PM

Forgive me for pointing out the bleeding obvious, [R122].

by Anonymousreply 123September 27, 2015 10:56 PM

Fairy tales are not over 700 pages long. I think you misunderstand the genre.

by Anonymousreply 124September 28, 2015 4:26 AM

Who says?

by Anonymousreply 125September 28, 2015 1:33 PM

This book definitely inspires a lot of emotion in people. Some of these reviews read rather mean-spirited (espeicially, the one that basically calls Yanagihara a fat fag-hag slash fiction writer). I do think that the ambiguity of the sexuality of the main characters works with the fairy tale vibe of the novel. I can believe that Willem is kind of incidentally bisexual. It's mentioned at some point that he's had sex with men and women in the past so I don't think it's completely out of left field when he and Jude get together.

This is kind of a bizarre complaint to make about a book that is already so violently graphic, but I really felt like Jude's backstory needed a "bigger finish." By the time I got to the Dr. Traylor section, I was expecting something on the level of the Marquis de Sade, especially with the previous descriptions of how mottled and damaged the skin on Jude's back is. Are we supposed to believe that he got those from beatings in the barn at "the home"? Because that just didn't seem enough. Dr. Traylor was beyond creepy (and I couldn't help but think that his basement had been home to several other young men before Jude), but there were plot-holes there too. How did Jude go from getting run over by Traylor in a remote, icy field to being rescued and then placed into Ana's care? How was Traylor caught? For a novel that trafficks (poor choice of words, perhaps) so much in Jude's backstory, it did feel like she had possibly run out of steam at the end OR felt like she needed to ease the pedal off of the atrocities that Jude had suffered up until that point (which was not the right choice.)

by Anonymousreply 126September 28, 2015 2:49 PM

R119 Fairy tales typically have some kind of moral or psychological lesson to be learned, if indirectly, even if the ending is sad (which it sometimes is). I think the novelist wanted it both ways--pretty thin character development for a novel that at least looks like realism and deep sadness and suffering without any thing to take away, other than some people are so damaged by what happens to them that their life is over before they can really grow up and that there is no hope for them. I can get that by reading sociological accounts of abuse; it's not what I want a novel to do for or to me.

by Anonymousreply 127September 29, 2015 4:55 AM

[quote]Is this book part of the trend of females writing about gay men and creating them as the way they think gay men should be? I've called it playing with gay dolls before.

By that line of logic, then, should only women write about women? That argument would have robbed us of many of the great female characters in literature written by men: Clytemnestra, Lady Macbeth, Moll Flanders, Becky Sharp, Anna Karenina, Molly Bloom...

Really, why can't men write about women? Why can't African-Americans write about white Americans (as in James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room)? Why can't white Americans write about Asians (as in Pearl Buck's The Good Earth)? Why can't women write about gay men? It's called fiction after all.

by Anonymousreply 128September 29, 2015 5:25 AM

[quote] (espeicially, the one that basically calls Yanagihara a fat fag-hag slash fiction writer).

Oh, if she's fat, forget it. The writers of the books I read must be fit and slim.

by Anonymousreply 129September 29, 2015 5:27 AM

The defenders of this failure of a novel are working REALLY, REALLY hard.

by Anonymousreply 130September 29, 2015 1:26 PM

I guess that includes the juries of the Booker Prize and the National Book Award, R130?

by Anonymousreply 131September 29, 2015 1:42 PM

R130 is a VULGARIAN.

by Anonymousreply 132September 29, 2015 1:55 PM

Regarding all the nominations this book is racking up, when have such mainstream literary awards ever recognized a book about gay men written by a gay man?

Alan Hollinghurst’s “The Line of Beauty,” won the Booker Prize in 2004. Other than that, as far as I can tell, no other gay man writing about a gay milieu has won the award before or since.

Now, let’s look at the National Book Award. Their record is even worse. I don’t think they’ve *ever* recognized such a book. John Cheever, a closeted gay man, won the National Book Award twice (once in 1958 and again in 1981), although not for any explicit gay work (only one of his books ever acknowledged homosexualtity -- 1977’s “Falconer.” )

“A Little Life” is the literary equivalent of Oscar bait. The London Review of Books called it quite perceptively, I think, a “melodramatic lifestyle novel.” It paints an abject, tragic picture of gay men (to the extent that recognizable gay men even exist in this novel) designed for the gaze of a mainstream audience.

Nobody is saying Ms. Yanagihara or other women should be barred from writing about gay men. But when they do it so ineptly, we are well within our rights to criticize.

by Anonymousreply 133September 29, 2015 2:44 PM

Who do you mean by "we", r133?

by Anonymousreply 134September 29, 2015 2:51 PM

Gay men who know how to read, R134.

by Anonymousreply 135September 29, 2015 3:02 PM

It collapses under the weight of Willem's being straight until it was more convenient for the author's purposes to make him gay. In dramatic writing, it's called "idiot plotting."

by Anonymousreply 136September 29, 2015 3:05 PM

R133, just speak for yourself. You're not the elected spokesperson of all gay readers.

by Anonymousreply 137September 29, 2015 3:12 PM

R131 Yes, it does. Even blind Homer nods sometimes.

And the Pulitzer did go to Michael Cunningham's "The Hours," a novel that features gay and lesbian lives openly and directly and, while a pale shade of its inspiration (Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway") is, nonetheless a well-written and moving book that doesn't distort the experiences of queer people.

by Anonymousreply 138September 30, 2015 4:24 AM

Isn't 'The Hours' a book about a 'lesbian' whose greatest love turns out to be a gay man? If that's permissible and not a distortion (according to you), then why isn't it permissible for Jude to be the love of Willem's life?

by Anonymousreply 139September 30, 2015 8:24 AM

Here’s how the “Great Gay Novel” describes gay sex:

“And then there is the sex, which is worse than he had imagined: he had forgotten just how painful it was, how debasing, how repulsive, how much he disliked it. He hates the postures, the positions it demands, each of them degrading because they leave him so helpless and weak; he hates the tastes of it and the smells of it. But mostly he hates the sounds of it: the meaty smack of flesh hitting flesh, the wounded-animal moans and grunts, the things said to him that were perhaps meant to be arousing but he can only interpret as diminishing.” (p. 321)

The portrayal of gay sex is antedeluvian. Sexual encounters are depicted as painful, shameful. And as has been previously mentioned, the author resurrects the old libel that gay men’s sexuality is formed -- or malformed as it were -- through abuse and depredation.

As Philip Hensher, the gay British novelist said: If a gay man had written this, we’d call it self-hating. So, what do you call it when a not-gay-man writes it?

by Anonymousreply 140September 30, 2015 11:48 AM

Not that I find the book gay-positive or sex-positive, R140, but Yanagihara did spend most of 720 pages gradually revealing why Jude felt this way about having sex. I didn't necessarily find it believable, but it worked as an explanation of the sexual behavior of the main character in this particular universe.

by Anonymousreply 141September 30, 2015 1:01 PM

Homophobic R140?

It has won neither of those prizes R131, and it won't.

R132 is a tasteless pig.

by Anonymousreply 142September 30, 2015 1:19 PM

Philip Hensher might just be a wee bit jealous.

by Anonymousreply 143September 30, 2015 3:03 PM

R140, that description is very much colored by his sexual partner at that point, Caleb. I don't have the book in front of me but I don't think the sex passages with Willem (albeit also fraught with conflicted emotions and pain/discomfort) are described with quite the same set of language. The quote you highlight on p. 321 is, if I recall correctly, the first time we've seen sex described in the entire book and it's with a partner that Jude already doesn't necessarily trust (at a minimum), feels physically threatened by and/or scared of, but who he also feels is the only chance he has for any kind of "adult" sexual relationship. So reading that particular passage and walking away with the idea that the author is promulgating a sex-negative, somehow dirty concept of man-on-man sex seems like a very facile way to interpret it.

by Anonymousreply 144September 30, 2015 3:09 PM

Jude only had sex with Willem because he thought he owed Willem at least that much, R144. There was no joy in it for him.

by Anonymousreply 145September 30, 2015 3:31 PM

Yes, R145. Which is why I described his sex with Willem above as "fraught with conflicted emotions and pain/discomfort." I never said it was a joyful experience for him. Yanagihara makes very plain the fact that ANY sex for Jude is joyless and unpleasant.

by Anonymousreply 146September 30, 2015 3:39 PM

Re-reading the book, I'm struck by what a complete nonentity Malcolm is after the first couple of chapters.

by Anonymousreply 147September 30, 2015 8:55 PM

Then how do you interpret the portrayal of gay men and gay male sexuality in this novel, R144?

I’m not say the author is some raging homophobe. But, boy, do I think her subconscious really comes through in these 700 pages. Gay men are tragic, abused, self-destructive creatures. Gay sex is painful, disgusting, degrading. It may make sense in the universe of this novel, I’ll give you that. But why has the author gone and created this universe in the first place?

by Anonymousreply 148September 30, 2015 9:01 PM

How did you picture Jude physically? Early on Willem says that he's not white, but later on he's described as having green eyes and brown-blond hair. So white is evidently in the mix. I get that the author wanted him to be racially ambiguous (like Heathcliff), but given that she does then give some physical descriptors I wondered what she had in mind. I can kind of picture him like the Afghan girl in that very striking picture by Steve Curry, but I'm not sure how many people of Afghan origin there are in Montana...

by Anonymousreply 149September 30, 2015 9:07 PM

[quote]I can kind of picture him like the Afghan girl in that very striking picture by Steve Curry, but I'm not sure how many people of Afghan origin there are in Montana...

I imagined he was part Native American.

by Anonymousreply 150September 30, 2015 9:12 PM

R148 the author didn't 'create' the universe whereby some people who have been sexually abused find sex traumatic. The descriptions you give apply to Jude, not the other gay men in the novel. JB's sexuality is such a non-issue to him that it's not even mentioned as such. Willem loves having sex with Jude, to the extent that he would have been happy to give up having sex with women if Jude had felt the same way. He views sex with the man he loves as a beautiful thing. There are loads of incidentally gay male characters in the novel - Andy's brother Beckett, for example - who just seem to be leading ordinary lives with their partners. The tragedy of the novel is that Jude isn't able to be one of them, because of his early life experiences. He's not presented as the representative of all gay men.

by Anonymousreply 151September 30, 2015 9:17 PM

I knew the minute someone asked for limes, death was on the horizon.

by Anonymousreply 152September 30, 2015 9:30 PM

Count me among the fans. It made me severely emotional - the epilogue was very rough going for me, imagining Harold an old man having witnessed these men come and go in his life and what it all meant.

And for the record, the book was set nowhere near the '80s. In describing Jude's childhood it says (I have the eBook so I don't know the page number, it's in the first chapter of Part II): "He felt, often, not so much foreign [...] as from another time altogether: his childhood might well have been spent in the nineteenth century, not the twenty-first, for all he had apparently missed." If Jude was a child for any of the 21st century, it would seem to me like the action in the book starts around today or even slightly in the future (meaning they get the Lispenard Street apartment around 2015) and goes thirty years into the future with the epilogue happening somewhere around the 2040s.

by Anonymousreply 153September 30, 2015 9:47 PM

You guys! I think I’ve hit upon the definitive interpretation of this novel, one that truly makes it worthy of the “great gay” encomiums showered upon it.

It’s all actually a metaphor for the life of Judy Garland. No, stick with me. I’ll walk you through it.

First, the name of our lead character is just a dead giveaway. Jude St. Francis? His circle of friends all affectionately refer to him as Judy constantly. It’s staring us right in the face. (Plus, Judy Garland’s actual birth name? FRANCES Gumm).

Second, the monastery where Jude is “rescued” and then abused? That’s clearly a stand-in for MGM. The male-dominated movie studio system of the 1930s and ‘40s helped usher in America’s postwar worship of celebrity culture -- a.k.a our current national religion. A crowded theater is a church of a kind. You get the picture. Jude is abused and molested through childhood but also groomed for success later in life (the pederastic monks certainly don’t skimp on his education: Latin, opera, botany, what have you). Garland was also horribly mistreated as a child star but her training with the best musicians, choreographers and directors all helped lay the groundwork for her career as Miss Show Business.

Jude goes on to become wildly successful at every endeavor he pursues, acquiring wealth and status while remaining deeply lonely and prone to grand acts of self-harm for attention. HELLO. Judy Garland was a well-known cutter as well. She tried to slash her throat when MGM canceled her contract in 1950 among many other razor-assisted “cries for attention.”

And of course Garland throughout her life cycled through several tempestuous relationships with men -- a couple of whom turned out to be gay (Willem, I’m looking at you!).

So, there you have it. Gee, I actually kind of like this novel now.

by Anonymousreply 154September 30, 2015 9:48 PM

You've convinced me, R154.

Is Caleb Mickey Rooney?

by Anonymousreply 155September 30, 2015 9:54 PM

Not to mention, of course, that Jude has a beautiful singing voice.

by Anonymousreply 156September 30, 2015 9:58 PM

Ms Judy Garland is a bonafide Jungian archetype, so it's not surprising that traces of her will show up in any tragic works of art.

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by Anonymousreply 157October 1, 2015 5:15 AM

[quote]the meaty smack of flesh hitting flesh, the wounded-animal moans and grunts, the things said to him that were perhaps meant to be arousing but he can only interpret as diminishing


I'm laughing hysterically here. That is so bad.

I'll never buy this 'novel'

by Anonymousreply 158October 1, 2015 5:27 AM

Yes, R153, Jude grew up in the age of the internet and Brother Luke was part of an online pedophile network. Recall how he packed up his laptop (clearly full of incriminating evidence) every time he left the motel room. Sorry to repeat myself, but a few posters kept mentioning the 1980s.

by Anonymousreply 159October 1, 2015 9:41 AM

The Times review is not good, even though the author works at the Times. Calls it an unsophisticated potboiler, which is exactly what it is, and that overuse of absurd metaphors turns it into a mess.

by Anonymousreply 160October 1, 2015 10:46 AM

Eh, Janet Maslin has always been a bitter crank and a scold. Her opinion is not well-regarded.

by Anonymousreply 161October 1, 2015 11:43 AM

More than yours R161.

by Anonymousreply 162October 1, 2015 12:38 PM

Really, R148? You're using JB as evidence the author can write humanely about gay characters? JB --the crystal meth addict who's basically written out of the novel a third of the way through after Yanagihara describes his predilection for "doing lots of drugs and then having dirty sex." (p. 222)?

by Anonymousreply 163October 1, 2015 1:09 PM

I also had a hard time picturing Jude throughout the novel (which, I think, was probably the intended effect as it only adds to his cipher-like nature). However, towards the end of the novel, before the Dr. Traylor section and after "the home", Jude mentions something about Brother Luke saying that he might've had Native American blood because of his running ability and early athleticism. So, that added to my final composite picture of him in my mind. At a minimum, I pictured him very handsome, but almost tragically handsome. And certainly the kind of good looks that are amplified by the person possessing them not knowing about them.

I think Montgomery Clift (longest suicide in history) would've made a perfect Jude.

by Anonymousreply 164October 1, 2015 1:58 PM

You're right R164, Montgomery Clift would be great, and would have the acting skill to pull it off. Alain Delon is possibly even closer to how I imagine Jude looking, but I'm not so sure about his capacity to act that part.

Thanks for highlighting the reference to his possible Native American heritage in the book, I'd forgotten about that.

by Anonymousreply 165October 2, 2015 8:13 AM

R163 JB recovers from his drug addiction, has great professional success and a steady stream of relationships. I think you are the one who is judgementally writing him off, not the author. She's said in interviews that JB is the character who is most like her.

by Anonymousreply 166October 2, 2015 8:35 AM

For the readers who found this book a profound literary experience, what else does your literary diet consist of? I’m genuinely curious. Do you read often and if so, what was the last really great book you read?

I found this book sloppily written, over the top, and embarrassingly schmaltzy at times. It was like the negative of a Hallmark card or a Thomas Kinkade print. On one side, here’s child rape and sex torture. And on the other side, we have cloying sentiments like:

“Wasn’t friendship its own miracle, the finding of another person who made the entire lonely world seem somehow less lonely?”


“It was precisely these scenes he missed the most from his own life with Willem, the forgettable, in-between moments in which nothing seemed to be happening but whose absence was singularly unfillable.”

Maybe this is weighty stuff for the “Real Housewives” set.

For the readers in the bunch - and in particular the defenders of this novel - what else do you read?

by Anonymousreply 167October 2, 2015 11:36 AM

[quote]For the readers in the bunch - and in particular the defenders of this novel - what else do you read?

I'm one of the defenders of the novel in this thread. The last three novels that I read and enjoyed were 2666 by Roberto Bolano, Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie, and Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut. (I'm a huge Vonnegut fan, but had never gotten around to 'Mother Night' until last week.)

by Anonymousreply 168October 2, 2015 2:24 PM

What's with these late-to-the-party reviews? Janet Maslin chimes in seven months after the book was published with a review that contributes nothing new or fresh to the hundreds of reviews already published?

by Anonymousreply 169October 3, 2015 4:53 PM

How many new or fresh ways are there to describe a sloppy potboiler, R169? Maslin called it out for the stinker it is. If this wins the Booker -- and it very well might -- it'll be the literary equivalent of "Crash" winning the Oscar. We'll all look back in a few years and cringe.

by Anonymousreply 170October 3, 2015 10:23 PM

For those claiming to hate the book - what brought you to this thread? I don't go around looking for threads about books I thought were mediocre. There was evidently something about it that got under your skin.

by Anonymousreply 171October 3, 2015 11:18 PM

In R171world, people only post positive comments. Obviously R171 has never been to DL before.

by Anonymousreply 172October 4, 2015 3:36 AM

I'd love to blow some crack smoke down Clegg's throat & then work his hole all night long. Better than a Man Booker any day!

by Anonymousreply 173October 4, 2015 4:29 AM

I think The Times became aware that they missed the boat in not covering a book (except in the Sunday Book Review) that has become something of a phenomenon. So, the late Maslin review.

And it's peculiar (and a bit sad) that those who dislike the book aren't content with merely sneering at it. They have to question the taste of those who are moved by it. I don't get the Jonathan Franzen popularity, but I respect those who think he's a genius.

by Anonymousreply 174October 4, 2015 10:57 AM

Interesting that you mention Vonnegut, R168. I haven’t read “Mother Night,” but “A Little Life,” seems like just the sort of cynical, middlebrow lit Vonnegut frequently lampooned in his work (in “Breakfast of Champion,” in particular)

by Anonymousreply 175October 5, 2015 11:37 AM

R163, Malcom is the one who is all but written out of the book (until he appears at the 11th hour to die in a car wreck), not JB. JB, if I recall, at least gets another section in the novel during "Vanities" in which he get a close-third person perspective. That's the section of the book where he, of course, cruelly imitates Jude's limp. Surprisingly, with all the abuse and violence littered throughout the novel, that was one of the scenes I found most difficult to get through because Jude was being betrayed by someone who he'd always trusted (similar, I suppose, to when he gets turned out by Brother Luke earlier in his life). It was just very sad. Especially when, later, Jude meets with JB in a restaurant and realizes that he subconsciously chose one where JB wouldn't possibly have room to imitate him again.

by Anonymousreply 176October 5, 2015 12:26 PM

And I agree with R171: for those detractors who keep posting in this thread, why are you doing it? It seems like a couple people posting numerous times which seems almost pathological, quite frankly. I also don't seek out threads about a book I thought was mediocre and continuously post in them.

by Anonymousreply 177October 5, 2015 1:30 PM

Has anyone read her first book 'The People in the Trees?' Is it worth a read?

by Anonymousreply 178October 5, 2015 10:13 PM

Oh, come off it, R177. People are allowed to have differing opinions. Speaking for myself, it’s not that I think this book is merely mediocre but that it’s spectacularly bad. I’ve shared my viewpoint and others have countered with theirs. That’s the point of a discussion forum, darling. We don’t all have to agree. I happen to think literature is worth arguing over.

by Anonymousreply 179October 5, 2015 10:47 PM

R179 I also think this one is different because it has received so much public acclaim (nominated for NBA, Man Booker, Kirkus) while critics and many readers have excoriated it as one of the books they have disliked deeply, for sundry reasons. If it were simply a book that had been published, received mediocre reviews, and made little news, then the point about people being virtriolic might make more sense. But this book was clearly positioned and received as a "big book," and therefore seems to me to be fair game for whatever reactions people wish to post.

by Anonymousreply 180October 6, 2015 4:15 AM

[quote]For those claiming to hate the book - what brought you to this thread? I don't go around looking for threads about books I thought were mediocre. There was evidently something about it that got under your skin.

That's a very fangirl-y way to look at pieces of art and entertainment. Why should you only be able to talk about stuff you like and praise? That kind of attitude is sadly quite normal nowadays and we see it all the time here. Go into a Mr. Robot thread and tell the show is not really anything special and you're called an idiot who just doesn't get it. It keeps amazing me how some people here immediately take it as a personal insult if someone criticizes a book/film/tv show they like. The discussion rarely is at the childish Janbot vs. anti-Janbots level to warrant that kind of response. Fangirls just can't stand to hear any critique.

I've been to various art schools during my life and public critique of your work in front of your fellow students and colleagues is something you just have to get used to. There were some that couldn't take it at all.

by Anonymousreply 181October 6, 2015 4:40 AM

I admit to being a total fangirl for this book. But I can definitely understand how it might not be everyone's cup of tea. I think what some supporters might be responding to are some of the over-the-top posts that can be found at the beginning of this thread which were most definitely one person complaining about the lack of AIDS in the novel and the horror that a straight woman had taken on the "gay experience" (even though I don't think she's really trying to do that at all).

by Anonymousreply 182October 6, 2015 2:00 PM

This book did not register on my mental monitor until someone here referred to it as -- or quoted someone who referred to it as -- "the first great gay novel of the 21st century." But turning a formerly straight character gay is neither great nor gay. If this had happened on a soap opera, the venue where one might expect to find such an inconsistency in logic, fans would be shrieking and screaming about "idiot plotting." I won't even bother with the impossibility of the timeframe. Willem's sudden gayness is reason enough to call this book a stinker.

That said, I did find the storytelling compelling. I read the book as non-stop as I could, over the course of one weekend.

by Anonymousreply 183October 6, 2015 2:35 PM

R182, considering how many gay novels today are written by women (for women?) it's not that far-fetched to wonder how Yanahigara treats her subjects. I wrote R53 and talked about the 'gay dolls' some female writers create. I haven't read A Little Life and I'm aware that the gay romance genre is not exactly the same as the serious fiction but still. I'm sure women have raised concerns over being described as sex kittens in books written by certain male authors so it's not that weird that I as a gay man worry about female authors taking over the gay novel genre. This comes partly from being pissed finding out that some female authors writing gay novels do it under a male name to hide their true gender. But that's just my opinion.

by Anonymousreply 184October 6, 2015 2:45 PM

R184 I would hope there isn't a cap on the number of books that can be written about gay people - if more women are starting to write them as well as gay men, hopefully that means more and a wider range of gay books for everyone, rather than a 'takeover' of a set amount of books. Personally I'm more concerned with whether a book is any good or not than whether it was written by a woman or a man, but I respect that what counts as good is subjective, and clearly some gay male readers feel that women writers tend not to be successful in capturing their lives and experiences... though equally it seems like quite a lot of gay male readers found this book powerful.

by Anonymousreply 185October 6, 2015 10:48 PM

[quote]some gay male readers feel that women writers tend not to be successful in capturing their lives and experiences.

I have never had a straight best friend fall in love with me years into the relationship. She's not "capturing" gay male "lives and experiences." She's making shit up.

by Anonymousreply 186October 7, 2015 12:04 AM

I just reserved it at the library. Will read it soon.

by Anonymousreply 187October 7, 2015 12:45 AM

So r186, if it doesn't reflect an experience you've had, it isn't valid? Solipsistic much?

by Anonymousreply 188October 7, 2015 2:16 AM

Words have meanings, R188. Straight men don't become gay.

by Anonymousreply 189October 7, 2015 2:24 AM

It's the deus-ex-machina quality to Willem's late-in-life sexual conversion that rankles, R188. It reduces the experiences - even the existence - of gay men to a cheap plot twist. And did no one else find it odd that the author can spend pages describing Jude's flesh literally rotting off his body but she can't describe even one satisfying sexual encounter between men? The NY Times review noted how oddly squeamish the author is about sex.

by Anonymousreply 190October 7, 2015 2:53 AM

I would not want to be one of Hanya Yanagihara's gays.

by Anonymousreply 191October 7, 2015 3:15 AM

[quote]Ms. Yanagihara’s prose is always ripe with modifiers, as when the book conjures rats that go “squeaking plumply underfoot”; is it possible for rats to squeak skinnily? A lot of this 720-page book is devoted to torrentially long and powerful descriptions, and without question, they pack a lot of power. But her mixing of metaphors makes for a mess. The phantoms that haunt Jude can be hyenas with “snapping, foaming jaws” at one moment, “banshees demanding his attention, snatching and tearing at him with their long, needley fingers” the next. The banshees and the hyenas appear on the same page, along with the lineup of human demons who have caused Jude to imagine them.

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by Anonymousreply 192October 7, 2015 3:27 AM

I think Hanya Yanagihara’s gays are those New Puritans of Generation Grindr, R191.

As has been pointed out above, gay sex is rarely depicted in this novel and when it is, it is treated with disgust. The happily ever after between Jude and Willem (well, until tragedy inevitably strikes again) literally consists of them lying in bed, holding hands and cuddling.

That fantasy of intimacy is very attractive for younger gay men caught between a glut of sexual possibility (thanks to new technology) and the newly ascendant, conservative cultural values of monogamy and marriage.

Has anyone checked out out the “Sex” threads here on DL? There’s a fair amount of pearl clutching by millennial gays going on there. That’s exactly who this book is striking a chord with (and straight women, of course).

by Anonymousreply 193October 7, 2015 12:40 PM

I think Yanagihara manages to write extensively about sexual matters without ever letting it turn cheaply erotic. Let me add: there’s nothing wrong with cheap eroticism in other contexts, but, given how sensitive a subject it is for Jude, it would have been a betrayal of him as a character if any of the moments described had offered any level of turn-on. The gentle distance Yanagihara achieves feels like just the right approach for the subject matter.

by Anonymousreply 194October 7, 2015 1:18 PM

HY has said that she asked gay male friends to watch them have sex. They abstained, courteously.

by Anonymousreply 195October 8, 2015 1:43 AM

One friend actually said yes...on the condition that she stood on their fire escape (shades of when the four get locked out in the cold from the Lispenard Street apartment) during the month of February and watched them through a window. She talked about it during a interview/podcast I listened to. She decided not to go for it.

So, I actually think she has very little clue how men fuck each other. Although, she could've just watched some porn.

I happen to think she handled the sex well. Out of deference to the character of Jude, the sex was not/could not be titillating from his point of view. During the Willem sections, Willem was quite enthusiastic about how deft Jude was in bed (he, of course, didn't know why at that point in the novel).

by Anonymousreply 196October 8, 2015 2:09 PM

Pssst... the author is a lesbian.

by Anonymousreply 197October 8, 2015 6:08 PM

I'm getting really bored of the posts complaining that this novel about the aftermath of abuse wasn't sexy enough.

by Anonymousreply 198October 8, 2015 9:21 PM

Has no one read “The Night Listener” by Armistead Maupin? Or heard of the real-life Anthony Godby Johnson hoax?

Here’s an ABC news report on the case. Sound familiar?

“Who is Anthony Godby Johnson? The 14-year-old boy wrote a heart-rending story: he was dying of advanced syphilis, AIDs, had his leg amputated, and 54 broken bones. Over the course of a decade, his story sparked the interest of a publishing company, a movie studio, and this network. But is it a true tale? Even more basic, does the boy even exist? Or, as some believe, was it all a hoax?”

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by Anonymousreply 199October 8, 2015 10:19 PM

Not sure what Johnson has to do with A Little Life.

by Anonymousreply 200October 9, 2015 1:30 AM

A precocious kid repeatedly raped by a shadowy network of pedophiles, rescued by a saintly social worker, left with a disease-ravaged, broken body. That doesn't sound like Jude's backstory to you, R200?

by Anonymousreply 201October 9, 2015 2:00 AM

Even if she borrowed a pre-existing story, so did Maupin.

by Anonymousreply 202October 9, 2015 1:49 PM

Of course Maupin borrowed from the Johnson case. His novel is a fictionalized retelling of his actual experiences with teen and his creepy caretaker, R202. And to be clear, I'm not accusing HY of plagiarism or anything of the sort. Just commenting on the similarities

by Anonymousreply 203October 9, 2015 7:12 PM

R203 And her lack of originality--which is not the same thing as plagiarism. It was a novel I hoped to like, but never quite believed or committed to (and I did read the whole thing because I have a difficult time not finishing novels I begin). But by the end all I felt was relief. And I don't care about how much sex was depicted or how graphically, but I think it's a bit of a cop-out to excuse her mixture of Victorian curtain-drawing and indirection because of the painfulness of what sex meant to Jude. If she had really wanted to honor his pain, she would have made us feel it--rather than "indicating" it through his cutting and suicide attempts.

by Anonymousreply 204October 12, 2015 4:45 AM

How dare a straight woman ever write about gay men! Does she really somehow think fiction consists of making up untrue stories?

by Anonymousreply 205October 12, 2015 4:54 AM

Interview with the author on the eve of the Booker Prize ceremony:

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by Anonymousreply 206October 13, 2015 2:40 AM

I hope she wins.

by Anonymousreply 207October 13, 2015 3:39 AM

Me too!

by Anonymousreply 208October 13, 2015 6:39 PM

She missed out on the Booker:

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by Anonymousreply 209October 13, 2015 9:13 PM

Ugh, that really sucks. She deserved to win.

by Anonymousreply 210October 13, 2015 9:15 PM

The winner received great reviews. Disappointed, but not surprised.

by Anonymousreply 211October 13, 2015 9:25 PM

I look forward to reading 'A Brief History of Seven Killings.'

by Anonymousreply 212October 13, 2015 9:29 PM

She lost to Marlon James' far superior novel, "A Brief History of Seven Killings."

Sometimes there's God, so quickly.

by Anonymousreply 213October 14, 2015 12:26 AM

Despite the rule change, I imagine it will be a while before the award goes to an author from a non-Commonwealth nation.

by Anonymousreply 214October 14, 2015 12:33 AM

I keep reading this thread even though I HATED this book because my hatred comes from my extreme disappointment. I thought this book had so much potential, and I was so excited to read it - but I gradually realized I was reading well written fan fiction. Seriously, if you've ever read fan fiction you'll realize this book is a classic example of puerile, over the top hurt comfort. I was expecting literature, and I got amateurish dreck. I don't understand how so many people were taken in by this book!

by Anonymousreply 215October 14, 2015 12:43 AM

What R215 said.

"The great gay novel of the 21st century"? No. Try "most impossible idiot plotting of the 21st century."

by Anonymousreply 216October 14, 2015 12:48 AM

Not a surprise in the slightest that she didn't win. It's a horribly written book and completely undeserving.

by Anonymousreply 217October 14, 2015 12:52 AM

Sigh, sometimes even double minority status - woman *and* Asian - is no guarantee for winning...

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by Anonymousreply 218October 14, 2015 8:11 AM

Oops, just found out the winner Marlon James is gay. So black + gay = double minority status too. Now it made more sense in the PC sweepstakes...

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by Anonymousreply 219October 14, 2015 8:18 AM

And...the haters have come back out to play.

by Anonymousreply 220October 14, 2015 2:00 PM

And...the shills are still shrill

by Anonymousreply 221October 14, 2015 3:08 PM

I'm not a "shill"; just a fan of the novel.

by Anonymousreply 222October 14, 2015 3:41 PM

And I am not a hater, just someone who is having trouble loving this novel.

I began reading it with the belief that all of the critics on this thread were vitriolic and little else. I am now about 60% through and have no idea why anyone would think this is the great gay novel. The great novel of abuse and self-hate, most definitely, but I see little about it that relates to myself as a gay man.

If I met someone like Jude, I might find him attractive or interesting in the short run but damn me if I would ever contemplate being his friend. His damage is far to great for him to be a friend to anyone, especially himself. I found myself crying at his suicide attempt, not because of an immensity of sadness, but merely the fact that he should have succeeded. His friends, his doctor and his parents suffer for the little he allows them to know. He suffers for the fact that he cannot reveal anything. Ultimately, that makes him (to me) not tragic but merely unimportant. Anyone that unable to open himself to others is not worth knowing. As a friend, he is galling and unknowable. As a lover he is totally impossible.

I am still waiting for some transcendent epiphany.

by Anonymousreply 223October 14, 2015 4:32 PM

I like girls.

by Anonymousreply 224October 14, 2015 4:37 PM

I like Willem.

by Anonymousreply 225October 14, 2015 4:40 PM

My dick fell off. That's what no one knows. Not even Hanya.

by Anonymousreply 226October 14, 2015 4:50 PM

Especially not Hanya.

by Anonymousreply 227October 14, 2015 4:50 PM

How was Jude so adept in bed with Willem? Like, physically, what was he doing in the sack that made it such an event for heretofore-straight Willem? I think one of the reasons Willem kept himself "gay" for as long as he did was because he said the sex with Jude was so phenomenal. I know why that was, but I didn't feel like the writing told me HOW it was, if you catch my drift.

by Anonymousreply 228October 14, 2015 5:24 PM

[quote]I found myself crying at his suicide attempt, not because of an immensity of sadness, but merely the fact that he should have succeeded.

You're a real peach.

by Anonymousreply 229October 14, 2015 5:34 PM

"A Little Life" was revealed this morning as a finalist for the National Book Award.

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by Anonymousreply 230October 14, 2015 5:40 PM

The reason she can’t describe HOW, R228, is because Hanya Yanagihara is just making shit up.

A Little Life is full of the fake. HY has no idea what men do together in bed -- nor, more importantly, what goes on in a gay man’s head while having sex, nor anything about the psychology of gay desire.

By the way, here’s the link to where she talks about her “research” for one of the pathetic sex scenes in her book. It consisted of her asking her gay male friends to let her watch them have sex. They declined. She nows call them “Ted Cruz-like” (?) for demurring. And she ended up just watching gay porn.

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by Anonymousreply 231October 14, 2015 5:53 PM

Well, R229, I do believe that there are some sad souls for whom death is both a relief and a release. Jude is someone who is never happy. He rarely tells anyone he is happy, and when he does it is not because he is happy and not even because he thinks they want to hear that he is happy. He says he is happy merely to prevent someone from probing deeper, from getting to know anything about him. He rejects closeness of any kind. He does this because he does not think he deserves either happiness or closeness, but the result is the same. He is alone and the people who want to be his friends are, once again, denied any chance of knowing him.

Yes, I think suicide was the right choice for him.

by Anonymousreply 232October 14, 2015 6:03 PM

I was honestly relieved when it was finally revealed that Jude successfully committed suicide. As soon as Andy said that he was retiring and wouldn't be able to treat Jude in the future, I knew Jude wouldn't make it.

by Anonymousreply 233October 14, 2015 6:06 PM

R233 If Jude hadn't, I might have.

by Anonymousreply 234October 14, 2015 10:22 PM

Haven't read this book and doubt now that I will. Just thrilled to hear that a candidate for "Great Gay Novel" is a soap opera about a suicidally depressed, sexually dysfunctional gay man, and it's written by a woman. That's just AWESOME.

by Anonymousreply 235October 14, 2015 10:45 PM

The suicidally depressed, sexually dysfunctional gay man turned gay after he was raped by a bunch of truckers when he was a boy. You forgot that one, R235.

by Anonymousreply 236October 14, 2015 11:15 PM

Your loss, r235. If the book had been described to me using your words, I'd have taken a pass, too. Fortunately, I read it via a recommendation from a friend who loved her first book, before a single review had been filed. (He doesn't even consider it a gay novel.) And the novel is indeed flawed, but for me still one of the most powerful books I've read in years. So you might want to give it a chance and join the many critics—including those who make up two of the most prestigious fiction award committees in the world—who find it worthy of praise. Maybe it's easier to throw out a reductive barb that seems to suggest that a woman couldn't possibly write an effective book about men. You probably think that Flaubert and Tolstoy had a lot of nerve thinking they could intuit the minds of women.

by Anonymousreply 237October 15, 2015 9:58 AM

Self portrait of the late mr Peter hujar, the artist who took the cover photo for the novel.

I much prefer his understated work to that of Robert mapplethorpe, his more much more flamboyant and more famous contemporary.

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by Anonymousreply 238October 15, 2015 11:43 AM

Another self-portrait of mr hujar:

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by Anonymousreply 239October 15, 2015 11:47 AM

Bruce de Sainte Croix Triptych by Peter hujar DATE:1976ID NUMBER:EPH_0012

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by Anonymousreply 240October 15, 2015 11:55 AM

Orgasmic man I

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by Anonymousreply 241October 15, 2015 12:03 PM

Orgasmic Man [II, 1969]:

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by Anonymousreply 242October 15, 2015 12:04 PM

Orgasmic Man [III,1969]:

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by Anonymousreply 243October 15, 2015 12:05 PM

The famous Gay Liberation Front poster, 1970:

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by Anonymousreply 244October 15, 2015 12:11 PM

Are all three orgasmic men the same man? R241 R242 R243

by Anonymousreply 245October 15, 2015 1:17 PM

R245: actually I left out one more [see link]. I think - but I'm not sure - that there are two different person: one is the one on the novel's cover; then the rest is another man. But the entire series [all four images] is called 'Orgasmic Man'.

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by Anonymousreply 246October 15, 2015 3:06 PM

^ * two different personS

by Anonymousreply 247October 15, 2015 3:08 PM

Thanks, R246. Nice photos.

by Anonymousreply 248October 15, 2015 3:12 PM

Peter Hujar [1934-1987] was a precursor to Robert Mapplethorpe but never had the latter's flamboyant success. In my opinion he's actually a better photographer than Mapplethorpe, and I'm hoping that 'A little life's success will bring him some much belated mainstream recognition.

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by Anonymousreply 249October 15, 2015 3:21 PM

Amazon doesn't seem keen on the book.

by Anonymousreply 250October 15, 2015 5:09 PM

How so, R250?

by Anonymousreply 251October 15, 2015 5:20 PM

Amazon is the Yelp of books.

by Anonymousreply 252October 15, 2015 5:23 PM

I don't expect a lot of people will like the book. Its long, challenging, and often depressing. I only recommend it to people I think are likely to invest the time and emotion required. And that isn't very many.

by Anonymousreply 253October 16, 2015 6:36 PM

I have the time and emotion required. I am reading it. I just don't find it very compelling. I'm sorry.

I'm sorry.

by Anonymousreply 254October 16, 2015 6:39 PM

I imagined Willem as a young Rutger Hauer, pretty when younger and more rugged in middle age.

by Anonymousreply 255October 16, 2015 7:04 PM

R253, I think you're confusing length with profundity. This book is not technically challenging to read. We're not dealing with a Faulkner here. What makes it such a slog is the author's total ineptitude for creating fully realized characters. Cardboard cutouts have more depth.

by Anonymousreply 256October 16, 2015 8:10 PM

I found the characters believable to the point of thinking they were real people at points. Having completed the novel at the end of August, I still see people on the subway who look to me like a "Willem" or a "Jude." That, to me, doesn't speak to a cardboard cutout characterization. YMMV, R256.

Also, I though R253 wrote a very measured and fair post that praised the novel while indicating that it's certainly not for everyone. Your post, on the other hand, sounds like you have some sort of score to settle. No on ever called the book Faulknerian.

by Anonymousreply 257October 16, 2015 8:15 PM

No, R253's response was really a kind of weaselly way to position the cheerleaders of this novel as true sophisticates and the critics as rubes who simply found it too challenging or who invest enough time.

To clarify, I also don't think an author has to convince readers that obviously fictional characters are in fact real people. Rather, given a set of circumstances - even if theyre outlandish circumstances - do characters still react like real people and not like thin characters only in service to the whims of the author? The point about "idiot plotting" has been made several times in connection with this novel. It's an apt criticism.

by Anonymousreply 258October 16, 2015 8:45 PM

Sorry, r258, you're totally wrong. I don't think the champions of the novel are any smarter and more sophisticated than those who dislike it. I'm simply saying that those who I think will appreciate it have different tastes and objectives when they read, and that this book offers a set of challenges many are not interested in meeting. Just as people who know me don't recommend DeLillo or Pynchon or Bellow. It seems to upset you that people like this book. Why do you care so much?

by Anonymousreply 259October 18, 2015 6:54 PM

If you think this is a challenging read R253, I fear for your future.

by Anonymousreply 260October 18, 2015 7:46 PM

'Challenging' in terms of being painful to read and not in terms of level of difficulty, presumably.

by Anonymousreply 261October 18, 2015 8:05 PM

I love Bellow but DeLillo is a nothing.

by Anonymousreply 262October 18, 2015 8:06 PM

Yes, r261.

by Anonymousreply 263October 19, 2015 1:08 AM

Bellow at his best is arguably the best post-war American novelist (always open to argument, of course), but I know of no novels that challenge the reader (in a good way) emotionally, psychologically, and intellectually from that period more than "The Adventures of Augie March," "Herzog," and "Humboldt's Gift." And, while "Ravelstein" received very mixed reviews, I think Bellow does a magnificent job of helping us to understand what made the loathsome Allan Bloom tick and why many people did care about him personally. That takes some doing. Was he a shit as a person? No question (and I have good friends who knew him for decades who would say he was a complicated man to consider a friend). Same with Roth, whom I don't think had as many great books as Bellow, but had he only written "Goodbye, Columbus," the Zuckerman books, "American Pastoral," and "Sabbath's Theatre" would have earned his place. I'm not a great fan of DeLillo (save "Libra" and "White Noise"), but I think that's a matter of taste and subject matter. All three are worlds above Yanighara's book of crip porn. I read the whole thing, so I would feel I'd earned the right to make an informed comment on it. The prose is simply inept and the characters thin and the plot cobbled together. I realize that it was meaningful for many readers, but I don't get it. That it won the first Kirkus Award for fiction suggests more about the Kirkus people than it does about the merits of the book.

by Anonymousreply 264October 19, 2015 3:51 AM

Please, another privileged closeted suburban complaining white man. Yawn. Bellow is as overrated as this dumb cunt.

by Anonymousreply 265October 19, 2015 12:07 PM

I think these people coming to this thread to make long, expletive-filled comments on how much they hated the book and then to re-visit again and again to clarify and repeat -- are pathological. Almost Caleb-like people.

Fine, you didn't like it. Why do you feel the need to denigrate the people who did? It's very unsettling to me that someone would read a book and then say, "I didn't like it. The author is a dumb cunt." You sound like a member of a Trump rally, quite frankly.

by Anonymousreply 266October 19, 2015 4:05 PM

Thanks, r256. My thoughts exactly. It's one thing to say that you disliked the book but quite another to have to keep beating it into submission. And the person above who has to spend a number of words boasting about his or her Bellow and Roth and DeLillo cred just to say how much better they are than Yanigihara is simply scary. Not to mention pretentious. He's so positive that he's right and every one of the book's admirer's is wrong—despite the book's many profession accolades—is painful to witness.

by Anonymousreply 267October 19, 2015 5:29 PM

^profession = professional

by Anonymousreply 268October 19, 2015 5:30 PM

Well, "A Little Life" lost the big award it was favored to win (Man Booker) and picked up a rather innocuous award by a magazine for the book business (mainly used by librarians). The NBA remains to be seen.

Sorry if mentioning Bellow and Roth seemed pretentious to you. I guess I just like to read more than the "it" book of any second.

by Anonymousreply 269October 20, 2015 4:49 AM

It's not going to win the National Book Award either.

by Anonymousreply 270October 20, 2015 11:26 AM

Neither are you, R270.

by Anonymousreply 271October 20, 2015 5:09 PM

I never won a National Book Award!!

by Anonymousreply 272October 20, 2015 5:11 PM

If someone thinks reading Bellow or Roth is pretentious, R269, tell them to fuck themselves with the fruit in the Patimkin refrigerator. ALL the fruit in the Patimkin refrigerator.

by Anonymousreply 273October 20, 2015 5:15 PM

Reading Bellow or Roth isn't pretentious. Using the fact that you read either to somehow justify you're derision of a contemporary novel is. The poster who keeps talking about them is a loser with the kind of personality that begs others to think he/she/it is smarter than he/she/it really is.

I'm also getting a whiff of "failed/unpublished writer" from their posts.

by Anonymousreply 274October 20, 2015 5:19 PM

R255 I like the idea of Rutger Hauer as Willem.

by Anonymousreply 275October 21, 2015 9:13 PM

R274 Well, as the person who raised the comparison with Bellow and Roth initially, I would say that I think A Little Lie is trying, at least in part, to be one of the ambitious, far-reaching novels about masculinity in the mid- to late-20th and early 21st centuries (obviously, Bellow and Roth are a generation or so earlier). In the regard, it fails for me. And I read many contemporary novels, so I'm not just some old white guy phantasm of a reader you seem to project on me. But I find the characters in ALL very thin, inconsistent (and not in the way all people have inconsistencies in their lives and personalities) and the writing style over-blown and awkward. While Bellow and Roth both have their loungers, at their best, both used language to create real people and real worlds--Augie March, Moses Herzog, the young Jewish boys in "The Conversion of the Jews," and Nathan Zuckerman all remain part of my inner life in ways none of the young men--include sad sad Jude--do in ALL. And no, I am not a failed writer. I know where my strengths lie and have known enough genuinely talented writers of fiction to consider attempting it myself. But the fact that I don't define myself as a writer of fiction should hardly disqualify me from having the ability to make critical assessments of the work of others who do--that just leaves us at "If you're so smart, why don't YOU try writing a novel!" I mean, would you say, "Well, if you're so smart, why don't YOU perform neurosurgery?" And yet, I would hope I would have some ability to discern between a surgeon I would want tinkering in my brain and one I wouldn't. Maybe novel-writing IS a kind of neurosurgery, at that.

Now, I will await yet another incisive projection about my life and personality from you, based on a posting on a chat site.

by Anonymousreply 276October 21, 2015 9:45 PM

Well, I for one agree with you R276. I finished the novel earlier this week and thought I would post about my final feelings, but then decided why bother? Thin characters is being generous. Ultimately I felt no sympathy or affection for any of the characters. There is the eternally sorry Jude surrounded by a bunch of people who think that his suffering somehow ennobles him. It doesn't. It seems his disconnection from his own life is supposed to be the reason everyone (including the reader) loves him. It isn't and I don't. I found him insufferable and, ultimately, unimportant.

As you say the characters are thin. I will add that the story is trite and ridiculously overblown. Does every character absolutely need to be the best at what they do and at the pinnacle of their respective professions? The language is turgid and the underlying themes puerile.

I suppose I am not sorry I read it (I've certainly slogged through worse) but it is nothing to which I will ever return and nothing that I would dream of recommending to anyone else.

by Anonymousreply 277October 21, 2015 11:14 PM

Well, I for one agree with you R276. I finished the novel earlier this week and thought I would post about my final feelings, but then decided why bother? Thin characters is being generous. Ultimately I felt no sympathy or affection for any of the characters. There is the eternally sorry Jude surrounded by a bunch of people who think that his suffering somehow ennobles him. It doesn't. It seems his disconnection from his own life is supposed to be the reason everyone (including the reader) loves him. It isn't and I don't. I found him insufferable and, ultimately, unimportant.

As you say the characters are thin. I will add that the story is trite and ridiculously overblown. Does every character absolutely need to be the best at what they do and at the pinnacle of their respective professions? The language is turgid and the underlying themes puerile.

I suppose I am not sorry I read it (I've certainly slogged through worse) but it is nothing to which I will ever return and nothing that I would dream of recommending to anyone else.

by Anonymousreply 278October 21, 2015 11:14 PM

Malcolm . . . Willem . . . JB . . . Jude

Who has time to read this? Can you just link to the BuzzFeed quiz so I can discover which one is most like me?

by Anonymousreply 279October 22, 2015 1:24 AM

"Bellow and Roth both have their loungers," r274? I'm certain you meant "longueurs," so it's probably just as well that you're not a writer.

But seriously, for all the time you've spent heaping vitriol on this book, you could have read another sizable novel that may have given you far more pleasure and instilled in you a better attitude toward those of us who enjoyed A Little Life. We really don't care that you hated it, nor the reasons for your disdain.

by Anonymousreply 280October 22, 2015 2:11 AM

I loved it. As I was reading it, I knew that it was heightened. I knew that these guys were all way more successful than any random group of college friends would ever realistically be. I knew that Jude's horrors went beyond a realistic depiction of childhood abuse and into an almost Stephen King world of outlandish evil. But for me, it made it more like a sort of literary Grand Opera. Once I picked up on the fact that there were absolutely no cultural or technological clues to when the story was happening, I was able to accept the whole thing as a little off from true reality and it never bothered me.

What hit me the most deeply was the accumulation of time - the way lives inevitably churn, how they got from the shit of Lispenard Street to Harold having his imaginary conversations with a dead Willem decades later - how nothing about you fundamentally changes, even when the entire world around you does. Jude's self-harm rang very true to me. As over-the-top as it was, I also understood the motivation behind it having been in a similar (if far less extreme) place in my life at times. Seeing it depicted that way has made me better understand my own tendencies toward it over the years. The oil burning scene was excruciating for me because I totally understood why he would do that.

I also get that it's one of those books that has made inroads beyond the usual sphere of people who read "smart" literature - I see on my Facebook feed that a lot of my more sycophantic, idiotic friends have been reading it and suddenly they're English majors with Very Important Opinions on literature. I almost wish Andy Cohen hadn't said anything at all. I hate that he and I like the same book. I get why people who routinely read a lot of literature on the scope and scale of "A Little Life" could find it underwhelming and the response to it genuinely aggravating.

But it's here, and it's made an impact on a lot of people, including me. I keep thinking about these characters. The city they inhabit feels very much like the NYC I live in. I find it very sad that people's genuine excitement over a book can inspire the kind of vitriol and condescension some posters on this thread have displayed.

by Anonymousreply 281October 22, 2015 10:03 AM

[quote]I knew that Jude's horrors went beyond a realistic depiction of childhood abuse and into an almost Stephen King world of outlandish evil. But for me, it made it more like a sort of literary Grand Opera. Once I picked up on the fact that there were absolutely no cultural or technological clues to when the story was happening, I was able to accept the whole thing as a little off from true reality and it never bothered me.

This is what a lot of the detractors keeping ignoring. It's *supposed* to be a fairy tale and heightened.

by Anonymousreply 282October 22, 2015 1:46 PM

Yes, r282, a point made early on here. but one many have chosen to ignore.

by Anonymousreply 283October 22, 2015 2:20 PM

R281, what a great post. Thank you for saying things about this book that I've been thinking but haven't quite verbalized here. I think your point about the book being a "fairy tale" (something Yanagihara has hammered home in many an interview) is really important to understanding it.

R279, there actually is a BuzzFeed quiz for "A Little Life"! I got Jude.

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by Anonymousreply 284October 22, 2015 3:48 PM

How many of you loving the book and complaining about people dissing it are female?

by Anonymousreply 285October 22, 2015 4:03 PM

R285, I'm a gay male in my mid-30s.

by Anonymousreply 286October 22, 2015 4:29 PM

I like the book, and I'm a gay male in my mid-20s.

by Anonymousreply 287October 22, 2015 4:34 PM

I object to the book's central premise. Even so-called fairy tales should have an interior logic that works. This book doesn't. I'm in my '60s, gay male.

by Anonymousreply 288October 22, 2015 4:40 PM

To me, this was the central premise of the book, encapsulated in Jude's quote to the young boy he's tutoring (I'm blanking on his name at the moment). The book successfully delivers on the promise of this early quote:

“You won’t understand what I mean now, but someday you will: the only trick of friendship, I think, is to find people who are better than you are—not smarter, not cooler, but kinder, and more generous, and more forgiving—and then to appreciate them for what they can teach you, and to try to listen to them when they tell you something about yourself, no matter how bad—or good—it might be, and to trust them, which is the hardest thing of all. But the best, as well.” —"A Little Life" by Hanya Yanagihara

by Anonymousreply 289October 22, 2015 4:44 PM

But that quote, R289, coming from Jude of all people? Someone who never opens up to the people he calls friends. He only reveals himself when he feels it is the only to keep Willem in his thrall.

by Anonymousreply 290October 22, 2015 4:47 PM

Which “A Little Life” Character Are You?

You got: Willem

You got Willem! The actor of the group. You are always there to help and support your friends and you cannot stand seeing them taken advantage of. You are prone to making sacrifices for others even if they are difficult for you.

by Anonymousreply 291October 22, 2015 4:54 PM

I found that to be the tragedy at the heart of the novel, R290. That Jude can so clearly articulate that kind of life view and promulgate it to a student in his care yet is completely unable to implement it in his own life.

by Anonymousreply 292October 22, 2015 4:57 PM

Millennial gays love this novel because it's, like, deep and stuff. Also because, like, everyone in it is beautiful and successful - but also so, so terribly damaged and tragic. And also because the central "gay" relationship in the second half of the novel is all about cuddling, because everyone knows sex is kind of gross and only old desperate trolls are, like, really into that sort of thing. This book just gives ALL the feels!! Also, I got Willem in the online quiz...squeeeeee!

by Anonymousreply 293October 22, 2015 5:28 PM

Saul Bellow's best book was "The Victim"

I think it's rare for someone to have more than one amazing book in them, but our publishing industry seems to feel just the opposite.

by Anonymousreply 294October 22, 2015 5:32 PM

I'm not a millennial gay, R293. I was born in 1978. (I also started this thread that you're now obsessed with.)

Stop trying to derail this thread with infantile posts like the one above. You're just embarrassing.

by Anonymousreply 295October 22, 2015 5:33 PM

I'm a 40-year-old gay male.

by Anonymousreply 296October 22, 2015 5:44 PM

I don't think that Yanagihara is tackling "masculinity in the 21st century." Her focus is on male friendships and homosociality, not masculinity (I can't even recall one single passage where a character even thinks about masculinity, except perhaps when Willem is contemplating how or if he should "come out.") So whoever it is in this thread who keeps shoehorning the Bellow/Roth comparisons into this conversations is really quite off (is that what your thesis was on in college, hon?).

A more apt comparison would be Charles Dickens or Mary McCarthy. God, one could even make a Mary Gaitskill reference and be more on point.

by Anonymousreply 297October 22, 2015 7:44 PM

You're JB, R279

by Anonymousreply 298October 22, 2015 10:55 PM

Did you bitches cast this movie yet?

by Anonymousreply 299October 28, 2015 11:19 PM

Jamie Dornan as Willem.

I pictured Jude looking like Luke Kirby.

JD looked like Wes on HTGAWM.

The rich kid, I envisioned Meadow Soprano's boyfriend at Columbia.

by Anonymousreply 300October 28, 2015 11:59 PM

[quote]The rich kid, I envisioned Meadow Soprano's boyfriend at Columbia.

Malcolm is black, not Italian.

[quote]I pictured Jude looking like Luke Kirby.

Jude is supposedly to be vaguely ethnic with probable Native American blood, not a white Canadian.

by Anonymousreply 301October 29, 2015 12:29 AM

I think I feel sadder the longer I think about this book. That little episode early on, where Jude almost gets adopted by the family who want to call him Cody, but then they never call back for him - I didn't focus on it that much the first time I read the book because it's outside the main line of the story. But to think of how eager he was to be adopted by any family at all - and the horrors he could have escaped if only they'd taken him on, even though they hardly seemed like dream parents - is devastating.

by Anonymousreply 302October 29, 2015 10:06 PM

Fwiw, Jude is never explicitly described in the book as Native American. The poster up thread who said Brother Luke tells him he must be because he can run so fast is wrong - I searched for 'Native American' in the Kindle version of the book and it never occurs. Agree it would make sense though. And, yeah, the book states explicitly that he is not (entirely) white.

by Anonymousreply 303October 29, 2015 10:10 PM

Meadow's boyfriend Noah Tanenbaum was half-black, R301. Wasn't Malcolm also half-black?

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by Anonymousreply 304October 29, 2015 10:25 PM

It doesn't matter what ethnicity the characters are in the book, this is Hollywood we're talking about. In the film they will all be white.

by Anonymousreply 305October 29, 2015 10:53 PM

R304: My bad! I thought you were talking about her boyfriend Finn. Yes, Noah seems about perfect for Malcolm!

by Anonymousreply 306October 30, 2015 1:14 AM

He is perfect for me, R306. I wish he'd had more of a career. I liked Finn, too. I forgot about him. I like Will Janowitz.

by Anonymousreply 307October 30, 2015 4:02 AM

R303, I didn't just conjure that detail about Jude out of thin air. One of the characters definitely does allude to it at some point. And I'm not entirely sure that a Kindle search quite puts this to bed.

by Anonymousreply 308November 2, 2015 11:02 PM

I just finished reading "A Little Life," and I was thoroughly underwhelmed. It was a vile, melodramatic piece of grief porn written by (I can only assume) a borderline misandrist.

It had the ingredients to be a heartbreaking masterpiece, but Yanagihara proved unable to flesh out the characters in any meaningful way (with the exception of Jude). After the incident with Willem, I just found myself wishing Jude would just kill himself. That said, Harold writing to Willem was a good way to tie the story together.

Also: If the word "sorry" was deleted, the book would only be about 400 pages. The constant apologizing, by all the main characters, got really old after a while.

by Anonymousreply 309November 7, 2015 10:05 AM

I hate Buzzfeed quizzes, so of course I took it and got Jude, which makes sense. He's the only character I could identify with (minus the sexual abuse and physical ailments). I guess that's why I found him so frustrating...I also have the tendency to let my insecurities sabotage my relationships with others.

by Anonymousreply 310November 7, 2015 10:14 AM

For me, it served as a cautionary tale. I share a lot of Jude's traits (to include the excessive apologizing), and I'm always telling myself, "Next time...tomorrow...next year." But the thing is, blink, and life has passed you by. When Jude was introduced he was 20 or 21 years old. By the time he died he was 53.

I'm currently 35 and haven't dated anyone since 2011. I'm considered good looking, intelligent and kind, but I'm a prisoner of my insecurities. Having recently finished the book I'm reminded that I can't just sit around and wait for life to happen to me...

by Anonymousreply 311November 7, 2015 5:58 PM

R311, interested in a date?

by Anonymousreply 312November 11, 2015 3:47 PM

Daniel Mendelsohn in "The New York Review of Books":

"You wonder whether a novel written by a straight white man, one in which urban gay culture is at best sketchily described, in which male homosexuality is for the second time in that author’s work deeply entwined with pedophiliac abuse, in which the only traditional male–male relationship is relegated to a tertiary and semicomic stratum of the narrative, would be celebrated as “the great gay novel” and nominated for the Lambda Literary Award. If anything, you could argue that this female writer’s vision of male bonding revives a pre-Stonewall plot type in which gay characters are desexed, miserable, and eventually punished for finding happiness—a story that looks less like the expression of “queer” aesthetics than like the projection of a regressive and repressive cultural fantasy from the middle of the last century."

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by Anonymousreply 313November 12, 2015 2:27 PM

Thank you R313.

That is an excellent analysis of this book. I appreciate the link.

by Anonymousreply 314November 12, 2015 2:49 PM

He makes a fool of himself in that review. He doesn't seem to have heard what even a simple Wikipedia search would have told him, that the narrator of her first novel 'The People in the Trees' is based on a real person, and that the child abuse plotline is not something she gratuitously introduced but based on facts. I found it impossible to take him seriously after that, though even without that it wasn't a very good review.

by Anonymousreply 315November 16, 2015 10:43 PM

Also, why does he refer to the monks (including Brother Luke) as "priests"? It doesn't add to his credibility.

by Anonymousreply 316November 16, 2015 10:48 PM

Why does Hanya Yanagihara keep writing about homosexual pedophilia?

by Anonymousreply 317November 17, 2015 1:45 AM

R280. Of course I meant "longeurs," but AutoCorrect begged to differ and I didn't catch it before it posted.

But go head and infer an entire character based on one typo. you and the novelist would seem to have the same deep understanding of psychology.

And to whoever suggested I could have spent the time reading a different long novel--you're right, and I wish I had.

by Anonymousreply 318November 17, 2015 2:11 AM

And of course no National Book Award for this stupid frau who can't write her way out of a shoebox. Now the short slide into irrelevancy and the book will be forgotten and derided. Byeeeeeeeeeeee.

by Anonymousreply 319November 19, 2015 11:27 AM

turn off auto correct

by Anonymousreply 320November 19, 2015 12:28 PM

I keep thinking Yanagihara is herself defending her book in this thread.

by Anonymousreply 321November 19, 2015 1:40 PM

The anti-A Little Life people in this thread sound unhinged.

by Anonymousreply 322November 19, 2015 3:58 PM

What a cunt. And what a typical female writer. I guess writing about her fat carp pussy is too challenging for her.

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by Anonymousreply 323November 19, 2015 4:07 PM

Actually Hanya has very classical features ala figurines from the Tang Dynasty [618-907AD]:

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by Anonymousreply 324November 19, 2015 4:41 PM

These figurines are gorgeous:

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by Anonymousreply 325November 19, 2015 4:42 PM

You're right, r322. They are unhinged. They have to call her a cunt, attack her gender and her looks. Real classy.

by Anonymousreply 326November 19, 2015 5:55 PM

I too detested this book but I distance myself and condemn R323's vile remarks. Stick to the book, dear; there's plenty to critique there without resorting to outrageous and misogynistic ad hominem attacks.

by Anonymousreply 327November 19, 2015 6:07 PM

And while I disagree with you about the book, r327, I commend you for your class.

by Anonymousreply 328November 19, 2015 6:54 PM

[quote]The anti-A Little Life people in this thread sound unhinged.

Yeah, why should gay men be offended that a female writer linking homosexuality and pedophilia and apparently hating the idea of gay sex gets her book called a 'a great gay American novel'.

by Anonymousreply 329November 20, 2015 12:01 AM

Yeah, some great gay novel. The only openly gay character is a caustic meth addict. Meanwhile, the 2 male characters in an enduring relationship are a bi guy (who "cheats" on his boyfriend with women) and an asexual guy damaged by years of child sexual abuse. How lovely.

Don't get me started on the other gay man in the book, who beats the shit out of the boyfriend he loathes.

by Anonymousreply 330November 20, 2015 7:45 PM

R329 and R330 are the same poster.

by Anonymousreply 331November 20, 2015 7:57 PM

I wrote R329 and I certainly didn't write R330. Is it too hard for you R331 to take that more than one person dislikes the book?

by Anonymousreply 332November 20, 2015 8:01 PM

I've finished the book and take comfort in the thought that it all took place inside the snowglobe of a gay, autistic 13 year old.

by Anonymousreply 333December 18, 2015 4:42 PM

It took several months, but R333 hit the nail on the head.

by Anonymousreply 334December 18, 2015 4:44 PM

Yada yada, Tommy Westphal, R333.

by Anonymousreply 335December 18, 2015 4:46 PM

I think this is the kind of 'gay' book that by and large only straight readers like.

by Anonymousreply 336December 18, 2015 8:21 PM

End-of-year bump for late-to-the-party readers.

by Anonymousreply 337December 26, 2015 12:56 PM

One of the best books I've ever read.

by Anonymousreply 338December 31, 2015 10:07 PM

Is it as good as Dancer from the Dance?

by Anonymousreply 339December 31, 2015 10:09 PM

Nowhere close, R339.

by Anonymousreply 340December 31, 2015 11:07 PM

One of the very WORST books I've ever read!

by Anonymousreply 341December 31, 2015 11:54 PM

I don't think I've heard a single good thing from people who've actually read it. The most frequent description being "torture porn."

by Anonymousreply 342January 1, 2016 12:32 PM

Like many of the earlier posts, I started reading it late summer and got through about 20-30 pages and put it down. At Thanksgiving I was having a conversation with a family member who asked me if I read any good books lately (we are both avid readers). I told her about this book I started that I couldn't get into and how it got great reviews and was staring to show up on Best Of lists for 2015. I said that I must be missing something and was thinking of picking it back up.

I decided to give it another chance. I actually started over as opposed to picking up where I left off. Something clicked and I could not put it down.

I just finished it (while bawling through the last chapter) and am glad I went back to it.

Definitely tough in some places (especially when Jude contemplates why live, as I have struggled with that same question myself). However, I am glad I stuck with it and thank OP et al for putting it on my radar. I even think I may re-read it in a year or two.

by Anonymousreply 343January 2, 2016 12:20 AM

I intend to re-read it, too. (And I'm gay, r3326).

The WSJ's fiction critic picked it as the best novel of the year. He's straight, but very gay-friendly. I know from experience.

by Anonymousreply 344January 4, 2016 3:25 PM

I still hate it.

by Anonymousreply 345January 15, 2016 6:58 PM

No one cares what you think, R345.

by Anonymousreply 346January 15, 2016 7:03 PM

and r345 is obvs Malcolm

by Anonymousreply 347January 15, 2016 7:58 PM

Why Malcolm?

by Anonymousreply 348January 15, 2016 11:33 PM

R348, probably because Yanagihara seems to lose all interest in the character of Malcom about a quarter way into the novel and then abandons him. Even his death (and his fiancé's), towards the end of the novel, are footnotes compared to the great tragedy of Willem's death.

by Anonymousreply 349January 28, 2016 4:12 PM

Yeah, Malcolm really served no purpose whatsoever. Unless you look at him as being the Sophia to Jude's Dorothy, Willem's Rose, and JP's Blanche.

by Anonymousreply 350January 28, 2016 5:14 PM

Is the author joking when she refers to the plot of this book as like that of a FAIRY tale? I am trying to read this novel, but her plot details and prose are killing me. To write about JB, Malcolm, and Willem, she uses an extremely distant but detailed journalistic tone; it's like reading a clinical case summary. Now, I have finally reached the Jude section. I have learned that Jude has so many talents. While he is working as a research assistant to his former professor at Harvard Law School, he is pursuing a master's degree at MIT, and working as a pastry chef. ..."[And one day Allison, bakery's owner, who entrusted him with many of the more complicated projects, handed him an order form for three dozen sugar cookies decorated to look like various kinds of bacteria." Come to find out, it's for the Harold Stein, the Harvard Law Professor! He's buying them as for a gift to his wife, a microbiologist, and her lab. So, Jude "made cookies shaped like paisleys, like mace balls, like cucumbers, using different-colored frosting to draw their cytoplasms and plasma membranes and ribosomes and fashioning flagella from strands of licorice." Jude also knows which mushrooms are poisonous, can sing Mahler in a beautiful tenor (for which he earns a circuit court judge clerkship), tutors Latin and Math (and plays a fine Haydn piano sonata), all the while subject to bouts of long-lasting pain episodes. Really? This drivel gets nominated for literary awards? This book is not a fairy tale. If anything, it's Magical Realism. I don't know whether I'm going to finish the novel. There is too much well written fiction I haven't read. I am a woman, by the way. A lesbian. I DO think it's possible for people of different genders and cultures, if they are GOOD writers, to accurately present others well in fiction. My favorite novel by Zadie Smith, her underrated, "Autograph Man" portrays maleness, especially adolescence, very accurately. I was spending a lot of time with my teen nephews when I read that book, and she totally captured their kind of energy.

by Anonymousreply 351January 29, 2016 4:38 PM

Are you fucking kidding me, R351? "Autograph Man" is, quite honestly, one of the worst books I've ever read, a horrible sophomore effort that was essentially derided by critics and readers alike immediately upon its release. Smith rebounded with the brilliant "On Beauty" but that second book was just absolute shit.

I think that says all we need to know about your literary tastes.

by Anonymousreply 352January 29, 2016 4:48 PM

Yes, but R351 does make a good point in what she quotes about A Little Life. That does sound terrible.

by Anonymousreply 353January 29, 2016 4:52 PM

R352 Fuck you. So our tastes differ. I chose that book as an example of an author of one race and gender who can successfully write a character of a different race/gender, which I think Smith does well with the Jewish Chinese-English Alex-Li Tandem. Regarding "On Beauty," MAGIC NEGRO, MAGIC NEGRO, MAGIC NEGRO. And all the American idioms she got wrong, too. Didn't anyone read it while she was writing it at Harvard? Poor Ms. Smith is shackled by her publishers to the topic of race. And THAT is why the critics especially didn't like Autograph Man. She is NOT allowed to NOT write about race. Autograph Man was the first novel of hers that I read. She was the first and only novelist I have ever read "blind." I had read an excerpt of hers in a magazine and took the book out of the library. I didn't know what kind of name "Zadie" was. I had assumed the author was a white British man the whole way through the book. Did not know who she was until I saw her photo at the end of the book. Her most recent, NW, was pretty good, but ended too quickly.

by Anonymousreply 354January 29, 2016 9:49 PM

I'm going to see HY read from the book at Busboys & Poets in DC on 2/21. Excited! I hope she's signing books.

by Anonymousreply 355February 4, 2016 6:15 PM

R355 Or swallowing razors blades.

by Anonymousreply 356February 5, 2016 5:30 PM

I am reading it now (about a third through) and love it - can't put it down. Do not want to read too much of this thread until I finish for fear of spoilers.

by Anonymousreply 357February 5, 2016 6:26 PM

I would definitely stay away from this thread until you've finished, R357. There are a ton of spoilers here.

by Anonymousreply 358February 5, 2016 6:53 PM

R357 Here. Just read the chapter with Jude's and Caleb's relationship. Honestly, I want to scream //ary at myself, I am so horrified and aghast. I almost feel like I was the one who was attacked.

by Anonymousreply 359February 10, 2016 6:07 AM

That chapter is really just horrifying, R359. Be careful: there's worse to come.

by Anonymousreply 360February 10, 2016 2:38 PM

R357 and R359 here. I finished last night and still trying to wrap my head around it all. I have to say I am in the camp that absolutely loved it. I can see why some people are turned off by it; I think like "The Goldfinch" it is a book you either love or loathe. I would recommend it but with a stern qualifier.

For me, I found the Caleb passage more shocking than the Brother Luke ones (although the scene in the field with Dr. Traylor comes close) because at that point you knew he (although the specifics had not yet been revealed) was sexually abused as a child; I was not expecting Caleb to beat and degrade him that way (although it could be said you attract what you know).

What is resonating with me is that all around him Jude is being told how wonderful he is but he just cannot accept it. Honestly, I have been guilty of the same thing. And the fairy tale aspect does make sense to me - everything is in a heightened reality.

I don't know why, but I did kind of expect an upbeat ending (maybe because it did also remind me so much of "David Copperfield"); but yes, there are just some things that you can't get over (although it could be said Jude did not want to get over them with his refusal to accept help).

It is a novel that I know is going to stay with me for quite some time; I came to love all the characters (MARY!) so for me, it was a very emotional book.

by Anonymousreply 361February 18, 2016 4:29 AM

R351 R354 Paragraphs

by Anonymousreply 362February 18, 2016 4:32 AM

R362: Really? You can write comments this long without paragraphing? Go back to "My Pet Goat"!

by Anonymousreply 363February 18, 2016 4:49 AM

Could someone please start a thread about the "First Great Gay Novel of 2016," Garth Greenwell's "What Belongs to You"?

by Anonymousreply 364February 20, 2016 3:03 PM

Have you tried to start the thread, R364? I went and ordered a copy, but I'm not going to start a thread until I've read enough of it to know I like it. After the colossal disappointment that was A Little Life, the last thing I'm going to recommend blindly is another "First Great Gay Novel of ____."

Try starting the thread yourself.

by Anonymousreply 365February 20, 2016 3:11 PM

Unfortunately, the option doesn't appear anywhere on my screen, R365. But thanks for responding--maybe you can post your review in due course in one of the numerous book threads here.

by Anonymousreply 366February 20, 2016 3:18 PM

Try this, R366: go to the screen you get after clicking "Join the Bitchfest." Look down at the lower left corner. Does it not say "REPLY" in green caps on black background?

by Anonymousreply 367February 20, 2016 3:21 PM

R367: I can reply to posts (like I'm doing now), but I can't start new threads.

by Anonymousreply 368February 20, 2016 3:25 PM

That's too bad, R368. Anyway, I'll jump What Belongs to You to the top of my reading pile. I hope you're right. If you are, I'll happily start a thread to recommend it.

What did you think of A Little Life?

by Anonymousreply 369February 20, 2016 3:33 PM

I loved both A Little Life and What Belongs To You. That said, one is definitely more memorable than the other, which is why there is a crazy long thread devoted to a novel.

by Anonymousreply 370March 11, 2016 10:38 PM

I've been avoiding this thread until I finished the book--which I did last night. Looking forward to reading the responses here. It took me a while. Not because I'm a slow reader, but because I had to leave it for few days when it got too intense. I didn't pick it up for 3 weeks after the final encounter with Caleb.

I was a bit wrecked by it, but I'm very glad I read it. Best book I've read in a long time.

by Anonymousreply 371March 18, 2016 6:39 PM

Garth Greenwell: “Queer sexual bodies are despised”

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by Anonymousreply 372March 20, 2016 8:21 PM

I love the pictures of cute guys wearing "A Little Life" t-shirts on the Instagram feed. Hotties!

by Anonymousreply 373March 21, 2016 6:38 PM

I still hate it and think the author should be legally barred from writing any more fiction.

by Anonymousreply 374March 22, 2016 5:11 AM

Neither winner note finalist for the Pulitzer! They showed some taste for a change!

by Anonymousreply 375April 18, 2016 7:52 PM

Your book sucked too, Bill Clegg at R375.

by Anonymousreply 376April 18, 2016 8:02 PM

I thought Daniel Radcliffe and Ryan Gosling for the leads Andy was my favorite character.

by Anonymousreply 377September 27, 2016 12:30 AM

The eventual Man Booker winner, A Brief History of Seven Killings is a superior book to ALL and there's a gay storyline too. It's actually a more believable one at that. The author is a gay man to boot.

by Anonymousreply 378September 27, 2016 12:34 AM

A Brief History of Seven Killings is a challenge to read because of James' exquisite weaving of different patois and dialects--but it's a wonderful challenge that pays off. A Little Life is a challenge because it would be better if all the characters were killed off by page 5 but you still feel obliged to follow it to its end. All the post-hoc explanations by the author that its absurd plot contrivances and flat characterizations were meant to place it more in realm of fairy tales are just shit.

by Anonymousreply 379September 27, 2016 3:29 AM

A Little Life is garbage from beginning to end and has deservedly disappeared. Bill Clegg is a skank, a huckster, and a sham.

by Anonymousreply 380September 27, 2016 1:15 PM

Erm, excuse me?

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by Anonymousreply 381September 27, 2016 1:54 PM

I thought the book was going to be great but by the time I got to page 500, I wasn't so sure. I should have stopped. When I finished the book all I could think about was that was 800 pages of reading that I'll never get back. It was totally pointless.

by Anonymousreply 382September 27, 2016 2:14 PM

I disliked this book INTENSELY.

If you are looking for Great Gay American Novel just read Charles Busch's [italic] Whores of Lost Atlantis.


by Anonymousreply 383September 27, 2016 3:11 PM

I just completed my reading of A Little Life by Hanna Yanagahara and I would just like to say that it is now one of my favorite books. It is very long (900 pages) but that just means you can really take your time with it LOL. I started reading it last December when it was recommended to me by a young co-worker (who is Queer), and my husband said that he would watch a whole TV show that was just me reading this book. Because every time he looked over at me while I was perusing it, I had a "crazy" expression on my face. I must admit, it was very shocking at certain parts!!! (That part with the fire poker.) Every time I turned a page, I thought, well what's going to happen now. And it was always surprising! Like the part at the end where you-know-who gets decapitated. I couldn't stop crying! I even cried thinking about it when I went to the CVS. Now that was embarrassing lol.

The thing that I liked best about this book is that there were so many Queer men in it. I thought it was so touching how the one who was a movie star was so in love with the one who was raped all those times, but he did not have sex with him because it was too hurtful. After reading this book, I feel that I have a better understanding of what it must be like to be a Queer man in this world. They had a truly beautiful love. Although I did wonder if it was necessary for it to be so graphic at times. After a long day at work "I don't need to see that!"

But one thing that I would like to know is why it did not get selected for Oprah Winfrey's Book Club. I believe it is because she is homophobic/biphobic. Or perhaps it is because she would not like anyone to suspect that she is Queer herself. Grow up, Ms. Winfrey!

Everyone should read this book to understand a little better what it is like to be a Queer man in this world. And to learn that love between two men can be so romantic and beautiful. The the author, Hanna Yanagahara, I would like to say thank you for sharing this with me.

by Anonymousreply 384September 28, 2016 5:49 PM

I am praying to the god that I do not believe in that r384 is a satiric post.

by Anonymousreply 385September 28, 2016 6:07 PM

If I didn't sleep with old guys I would be forced to move.

by Anonymousreply 386September 28, 2016 6:08 PM

The most depressing thing I've read in years. And I couldn't put it down, which I find even more depressing

by Anonymousreply 387November 27, 2016 3:43 PM

News from August 2016:

Scott Rudin Adapting 'A Little Life' as Limited TV Series

A Little Life is being adapted for the small screen.

Author Hanya Yanagihara used the book's official Facebook page to announce on Tuesday that the best-seller and National Book Award finalist has been optioned by Scott Rudin and theater director Joe Mantello with the goal of producing a limited series. A network or streaming service has not yet been attached.

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by Anonymousreply 388November 27, 2016 3:53 PM

This was the worst book I've read in many years. Why did I finish it? I don't know. If I'd had to read one more reference to the Asian friend and the Black friend with the same name I would have slit my throat with a bookmark.

by Anonymousreply 389November 27, 2016 5:05 PM

Another thing I love about this book is that it shows Queers come in all colors shapes sizes and that their love is beautiful No Matter What! In some ways the love of the men in this book was more pure because they didn't even have sex (with each other) because of the abuse. So it didn't have all that "yucky stuff." (Sorry I'm a prude LOL!)

Instead the man who was a movie star had sex with many women. But he still loved the disabled one anyway because he had a certain something that made him so beautiful. No one even knew what race he was. And the movie star one always came home to eat his pastries in their lovely home no matter what! So romantic. I learned a lot from this book about the special ways that Queers love each other.

by Anonymousreply 390November 27, 2016 6:11 PM

Not that it really matters, but the author is not straight.

by Anonymousreply 391November 27, 2016 6:22 PM

My problem with the mini series would be that if all the main characters are non-white or off-white, what role could Connor Jessup play?

by Anonymousreply 392November 27, 2016 6:35 PM

R391 What DOES matter is that she seems to have no way of imagining how real queer men think, act, speak, or feel. To be fair, she may have no idea how any other carbon-based life-forms exist on this planet either. A friend, who is a college professor of contemporary fiction, told me her previous book had its moments, but went off the rails. This one was never on the rails to begin with. Maybe in the movie they can have Macaulay Culkin play the one who is tortured and then becomes a self-mutilator. That might make it fun--or Justin Bieber would also do. Torture porn at its worst--even de Sade and Dennis Cooper have more literary value (and I loathe both of them, just to be clear).

by Anonymousreply 393November 27, 2016 11:42 PM

R384 say “queer” again.

by Anonymousreply 394May 21, 2020 2:16 PM
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