Book report: The Summer Without Men

As I read The Summer Without Men, I imagined the disappointed book report I would write. There were many moments when I loathed this book, when the sentences Hustvedt gave to her heroine made me writhe with discomfort.


I love when stories are interwoven with philosophy and psychology. But, I often thought Hustvedt's transitions between action and/or dialogue to philosophical or psychological reflection were lumpy, name-dropping and reeked of unnecessary academic chest-pounding. All of that is still true.

But, the other truth is, I like Hustvedt. And even (perhaps especially) in her less graceful moments, I identify with her. I think she really struggles to reconcile how she feels with all she knows and the occasional lumpiness in her writing betrays that struggle, to come to grips with reason versus feeling and living.

But the main reason this book redeemed itself for me was Hustvedt's ability to be an expressive and moving writer even when she sometimes works the phil/psych angle a bit too hard. In the end, she's such a heart-on-sleeve writer. The last section, in particular, moved me. So, I can't recommend that you read it. But, I do recommend that you finish it.
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