The Summer Without Men
written by Siri Hustvedt
Siri Hustvedt wrote one of my favorite books so far: What I Loved. She is a demanding writer and has the type of knowledge you’d expect from writers making a living out of their books and living in Brooklyn: she quotes poems, neuroscience, and everything in between with an ease that makes you wonder how can someone retains so much when you can retain so little.
This would feel pompous if Hustvedt didn’t have the remarkable ability to create characters that feel real. It’s the first time I read a novel from her where the main character is a woman, and once again, she proved that she can take any gender and age, and make it feel as if you were having a direct window onto their brain and emotions.
In The Summer Without Men, Hustvedt has characters from every generation possible: from the toddler, to the teenagers, the ‘adults’, to the seniors and beyond. She balances academic knowledge with real-life details that could come out of a documentary and I often marveled at her capacity to portray the human nature that well.
The Summer of Men is also much more experimental than the other books I’ve read from her. She switches narrative style and ‘breaks the fourth wall’ (I don’t know the term in literature, but basically her main character talks to us, the readers), making it an unconventional read. I thought it was ambitious, which I liked, although it sometimes took me away from the story. All in all, if you enjoy Literature with a big L, there is plenty to enjoy from it.
The Summer Without Men was selected in the Monthly Creative Menu #11, which was emailed in December 2014.
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