Thursday, June 23, 2011

"The Summer Without Men"

“The Summer Without Men” (Picador, 2011), by Siri Hustvedt, is a strange little novel. The narrator, Mia, a poet, has just been left by her longtime husband, Boris, and has had a sort of nervous breakdown. During the course of this novel, she spends the summer near her mother, and gradually recovers an interest in life, as she connects with her mother and her friends, a group of young girls whom she teaches poetry, and her neighbor Lola and her family. Mia is an extremely well-read person, and writes of philosophy, medicine, and more. She is interested in figuring out the differences between women and men, and what makes relationships and marriages work or not work. There are a number of intriguing events and scenes, as well as some bravura speeches about life and literature, in this quirky but compelling novel, a novel that appears to follow its own rules, and is ultimately both thought-provoking and satisfying.

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