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Eve Ottenberg - What They Didn't Know, Stories and Essays

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WWF Toggle Nav v k. Rubber Tapping. Man carrying cork treet bark. Take Action Join us to make change. I have been deeply immersed in the world of A Little Life while putting together this post—I almost feel like I read it again. They reveal different things about the books, their process, and themselves in each interview, and sometimes they have new revelations about their own work through the discussions. A Little Life is such an internal, character-centric book that researching the story behind it was much different than researching the story behind historical fiction novel Everyone Brave Is Forgiven.

Hanya Yanagihara is a fascinating author and I only included a fraction of the insights she revealed in her interviews. If you are as intrigued by A Little Life as I am, visit some of the links above—I especially enjoyed the video interview! Have you read A Little Life? What questions do you still have? I quite liked this book and this is great info from behind the scenes. Without being too spoilery i mean the part where certain things happened to Jude, but according to his recollection every single person he met in his young life did something bad to him.

Norrie, I totally agree! I remember having those same feelings while reading the book—wondering if it was gratuitous or exploitative. The interviews with Yanagihara actually made me feel a little better about it, knowing that the extreme nature of it all was thoughtfully done. Basically, about the use of horrific circumstances in stories, and dealing with the discomfort and our role as readers. Hopefully will be up tomorrow or Friday.

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It is now one of my all-time favorites. These details and behind the scenes stories are fascinating; thank you for doing this work and sharing it with us! Thanks, Tara! It really is one of those books that gets under your skin. First of all, I love that you cite your sources! I love this idea of delving deeper into the background of a novel. I know people who could not handle the graphic brutality. I saw Yanagihara here in Seattle and she was fascinating to listen to.

Along the lines of what you already pointed out about immersion she said she wrote such long chapters, with no breaks or shifts in perspective, to keep the reader stuck in the same place as the characters. No line or page break to allow escape. Having said that, she was quite charming- not at all dark.

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I find Yanagihara really fascinating. She has a very strong presence and is unapologetic about her life, her choices, and her writing. There are so many things she did to make this such a gripping read. I love this. A Little Life is one of my all time favorite books and unlike many, I do want to read it again. I feel even more strongly about that since reading this post.


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When I recommend it to someone, I always try to warn them about the devastation. It truly is a brilliantly written story. I actually re-checked it out from the library to look at a few things, and I kind of had to stop myself from getting too far into it. I love this! Thanks for doing all that research…even if you uncovered that she may not write another book heart-breaking….

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I love this review! Thank you!

I actually did read it again. I feel like the first time I read it it broke me, but the second time healed me again. I too never recommend it to people. I want everyone to know Jude, but in the other hand I want to protect him and keep him all to myself. Thanks for sharing. I wonder if I would have a different experience reading it a second time. Many readers count it among their favorites—just as many say they loved it but could never read it again.

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