Episode 8: Heft by Liz Moore
Heft is the story of two men: 55-year-old Arthur Opp, a morbidly obese recluse, and 18-year old Kel Keller, a high school senior and aspiring baseball star. The two are tied together by Kel's mother, Charlene, who was once Arthur's student. Though Charlene and Arthur haven't spoken in 18 years, for much of that time they have maintained a written correspondence, one characterized by lies and omissions. Arthur never told Charlene that he lost his job as a college professor because he had been accused of having an inappropriate relationship with her; he hasn't told her that he hasn't left his house in 10 years, nor how much weight he has gained since she knew him. For her part, Charlene never told Arthur that she married, nor that she had a son. The novel begins with mutual confession, and tells both the stories that underlie the confessions, and the events that unfold therefrom.
Liz Moore talks about how Arthur's voice came to her, whether it's fair to call Arthur paternalistic (and whether it matters), and how she decided which secrets to tell her readers, and which ones not to.
Then guest readers Brad Ridky and Deborah Cantrell join host Cyd Oppenheimer to weigh in (no pun intended), discussing parallels and mirroring, loneliness and connection, and the multiple levels on which the novel's title can function.