Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “When We Argued All Night: A Novel” as Want to Read:
When We Argued All Night: A Novel
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

When We Argued All Night: A Novel

3.5  ·  Rating details ·  225 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews
From bestselling and award-winning author Alice Mattison comes a breathtaking new novel following two best friends from Brooklyn, exploring the way in which the world and their lives change over the course of the 20th century. The deft literary touch that readers have grown to love in novels such as Nothing Is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn and The Book Borrower, as well as s ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published June 12th 2012 by Harper Perennial
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about When We Argued All Night, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about When We Argued All Night

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Wisteria Leigh
Along a lake in the the Adirondack Mountains, near a cabin in the woods, Artie Saltzman and Harold Abramowitz friends since the third grade thought they had the place to themselves for a week. In 1936 they were 26 and had no money and no girls, but that was about to change.

Two women arrived claiming to be the daughters of the owner. Although a bit skeptical the two men agreed to share their cabin. Better yet, the women have money and they leave with the promise to bring back dinner.

Mattison begi
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Full disclosure: my sister gave me this book, is friends with the author, and did the interview with Mattison in the back of the book. Also full disclosure: that means nothing, because Ann and I have always had different tastes in books since we were little kids, and I'd have no qualms about telling her I didn't like it for whatever reason.

But: I LOVED When We Argued All Night. I started reading it on the way home from camp on Saturday, misplaced it for two days in my knitting bag, found it, an
May 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel reads like a small, quiet story, but it gradually takes on the scope of an epic. Mattison follows the lives of Artie Saltzman and Harold Abramovitz through most of the 20th century. She's able to touch on the Great Depression, McCarthy and Vietnam by focusing on these two men and their families.

Artie and Harold become public school teachers in New York after World War II. They both enjoy their careers until McCarthyism and Harold's past complicate their lives. Harold's flirtation with
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel chronicles the friendship of Harold Abramovitz and Artie Saltzman from teenagers to old age, and in so doing includes the historical events they lived through: McCarthyism, the Vietnam War, the 60s. While they both become teachers in the NYC public school system, they lose their jobs because of McCarthyism witch hunts. Harold continues his education and becomes a college professor and a literary scholar; Artie takes a job in his wife's father's shoe store until he gets reinstated as a ...more
Marc  A.
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, it perfectly fit the kind of read I was looking for at this time. I characterize the themes and style as Philip Roth meets John Updike. Author Alice Matison acheives taking a view - at times prospective, at time retrospective - of the life of two families as it revolves around the the lifelong arguments that characterize the relationship of the two main characters ( Harold Abramovitz and his friend, Artie Salzman) from their youth in The Depression, through the horrors of The ...more
Sep 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is simply a terrific novel.

It covers 70 years of the exhilarating lives of two friends. It's their own comings-of-age as well as that of their children and grandchildren. In 400 dialogue-driven pages, the reader experiences WWII and the Holocaust, the McCarthy Era, Vietnam, the counterculture movement and the Reagan years. "When We Argued All Night" is a brilliant chronicle of the 20th century and all of the principal characters are richly developed.

There's very little not to like about t
Nov 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alice Mattison is a force for good in the world. I love the way her characters keep discovering things about themselves, and the way that her prose itself makes unshowy points about who people are and why they are the way they are, even if they can't figure this out themselves. Not to mention that she's writing New-York-Jewish fiction, as ever from what feels like personal experience (the grubbiness and low-watt careers are a nice corrective to all of the Norman/Irving success stories out there) ...more
Jennifer S. Brown
Mar 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jewish-books
I am in absolute awe of Mattison's ability to write a novel that spans from 1930s to 2002, and to do so seamlessly and beautifully. The story follows the friendship of Artie and Harold, friends since the 3rd grade. From the meeting of their eventual wives to the births of their children, the heartaches of parenting, the two remain friends, although it's a difficult friendship with envies and inequities. The story plays out over the drama of the 20th century, with the two men both losing teaching ...more
Reena Ribalow Ben-Ephraim
This is a wonderful book, written by a writer with a depth of understanding, true wisdom, empathy and a unique and living voice.Mattison's world is full of flawed people and rich relationships, and the personal always connects to the outer forces of the world around it.This, in fact, is Mattison's vision; the only constant is human love, which binds us to each other and to history, and which both hurts and redeems us. Mattison can make you laugh and bring you to tears, sometimes in only a few se ...more
Scott Schneider
Sep 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable trek through most of the 20th century with two close friends and their families, through trials and tribulations and the significant events of the century from World Wars to McCarthy all the way up to Obama's nominating speech in 2004. Many of the characters are not pleasant. They certainly aren't perfect. But then again no one is and life is messy. But they are always interesting. It was almost like a memoir and in fact morphs into a memoir at the end by one of the characters. Than ...more
Ken Harvey
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't remember a novel with characters so real, so complex, so completely believable. They will stay with me a long, long time.
Jul 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, for a lot of different reasons! First, because it's quirky and funny and sad all at the same time, which is the way we live our lives. There is a great deal of wisdom in these pages, not the least of which is that men, too, can have lifelong friendships, which rise and fall over the course of years, and impact their emotional lives in all sorts of ways. Artie and Harold certainly live their lives independent of each other, but they use each other as a benchmark throughout thei ...more
Judith Slawson King
The story of lifelong friends and New Yorkers Artie Saltzman and Harold Abramovitz unfolds at a leisurely pace from Depression-era Brooklyn into the first decade of the 21st century. This gently blundering pair of Everymen pays the price for youthful idealism when in the prime of their lives they lose their treasured teaching jobs to a McCarthy-era purge of alleged Communists within the school system. Alice Mattison does not idealize nor glamorize Artie and Harold,treating them not as generation ...more
Kasey Jueds
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'm very picky about the fiction I read these days, and Alice Mattison is one of my favorite, favorite fiction writers. I think I've read everything she's written. I was a bit slow to fall in love with WWAAN, but then I finally did... Mattison has such a knack of making me feel for all her characters, across the board, even the ones who are not particularly likeable (as one of the main characters here, Artie, is not--at least not to me). Even he is so human, so loveable even though I'd probably ...more
Jackie D
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

This was a story about long-lasting friendships and attachments. I kept waiting for something to happen to the main characters, Harold and Artie...but what was happening was in the world around them. They lived through joining the Communist party, the Great Depression, World War II, McCarthyism, Vietnam, and even modern-day war with Iraq. Many times they protested what they thought was wrong in the world and I did admire that. I felt th
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading Wallace Stegner's "Crossing to Safety," I craved more books about honest friendship and complex lives. I wanted to spend time with characters who thought about principles and calling., and I wanted to think about life as process. This book slowly became beautiful and contemplative in just those ways. I wasn't sure at first, but suddenly almost every page gave me something to re-read or laugh over. The people are sparsely but perfectly drawn -- you know their essentials. The timing ...more
Patricia Geller
I usually really like Mattison's writing but I found myself bored and skipping through the book. It is a book that I imagine people who lived through that time and that world ( Brooklyn and New York - Jewish lefties) would find their own story here. I felt that she showed the complications of the characters lives well but the book crammed in so much historical stuff it felt less like a novel and more an essay on a generation coming of age in the Depression. It was a story that reminded me of sto ...more
Susan Messer
Dec 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite kind of book, with a story that emerges like a vine from the earth--strong, natural, inevitable. People do screwed-up things, people do heroic things, and loving things. It's a rich stew of friendships and family, developing over decades. Mattison is a wonderful writer.

Now (1/15) I'm rereading this for my book group. Finished the second reading and looking forward to the group's discussion. There are few books that I take the time to read twice, but one can see so much more
Feb 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished it. I enjoyed it immensely as a piece of history, as a story about flawed individuals (aren't we all?), as a story about generations, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, and all the messes we make of our relationships. And how history can muck with our personal luck or fortunes, or not and some of us do okay anyway. This was a story that related to my life but also didn't so it was interesting and helpful and nuanced. I like this writer very much -- first book of hers that ...more
Mar 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this book should get 5 stars for quality of writing, i think. but i really didn't enjoy reading it. didn't like the two main characters and really didn't care about them. but the book did an amazing job of capturing a huge span of time beautifully and weaving in so much. but i still kept thinking "am i done yet?" while i was reading it. i liked the last third better when the story moves on to the children of the two characters.
Dec 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I have read many of Alice Mattison's books, and this one I will keep as I loved it. It follows the friendship of two men from the 1930's to the present. It takes place in N.Y. and the descriptions in each decade felt familiar and real, which added something for me as I grew up in N.Y. The book felt very real to me, not in the sense of factual, but in the sense of how people live and carry on over time and through adversity.
Sep 21, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, gave-up-on
I'm not one to abandon a book because of pretentiousness, but for some reason, this book's pretentiousness really got to me. All the quoteless dialogue, the statement of the characters' flaws as if it were interior monologue, the lifeless progression from one life event to another. It felt like the author had taken on a bet that she couldn't write like a man and this was her proof to the contrary. Unfortunately, she sounds more like a stilted Hemingway than anything else.
Sep 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of ambivalence about this book, but mostly I liked it. I liked the characters, I liked the story, I liked the writing, but I was so aware of the author's control of everything that sometimes I felt uncomfortable reading it. It was like she was writing about the characters' emotional lives without much emotion.
May 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in the 30s and moving up to the present day - the book tells the story of two friends that like to argue. I can't say I loved the book or characters - dysfunction and malcontent flowed through their lives and their families. I am a fan of historic fiction and liked the mention of the important issues and debates of the times.
Dec 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A tale of friendship between two men that spans most of the 20th century. Complex, challenging - it left me thinking about the nature of friendship, why and how we choose friends and lovers. There's an interesting plot thread regarding the communist party in the US. The pub date is 6/12/12 - pre-order! Not a beach read as much as a rainy day at the cottage read. Enjoy!
Aug 20, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars, really. I enjoy the historical saga, and how characters are so strongly affected and defined by their time. But I just really didn't like either of these main characters. I never saw the love in their friendship that the synopsis describes; they're incredibly competitive with each other and are both just so selfish. I guess jerks need friends too, huh?
Feb 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jim by: Susan Messer
I will remain friends with Artie, Harold and Brenda for a long while. Alice Mattison made them come alive for me.
This is a wonderfully written novel that stretches over decades, focused on a friendship primarily between two men, but also the various relationships within and between their families.
Oct 18, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 This seems to be a frequent genre for me: decades-spanning stories of close relationships and how they age. I'm not 100% sold on this one; it frequently felt like there was a veil between me and the characters, or between the characters themselves. It's as though their introspection and selfishness insulates them from each other and makes the action feel muffled.
Joe Meyers
Jul 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful tale of a long friendship between two New York men starting in the 1930s and ending in 2004. Great heft to the scope of the narrative but very tightly written - only 358 pages. Funny & sad. Mattison is a terrific writer - no limits to her empathy.
Sep 06, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Didnt like
Could not follow
Had a hard time following this author's book "The Book Borrower" too.
Loved "Hilda and Pearl"
Had a hard time with "Nothing is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn" but did read it and enjoyed it....with some difficulty. Lol
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Prisoner of Paradise
  • Deep Secrets: Boys' Friendships and the Crisis of Connection
  • The Secret Children
  • The Unruly Passions of Eugénie R.
  • Testament of Friendship (Virago classic non-fiction)
  • Jerusalem the Golden
  • The Last Hiccup
  • The Girl on the Vaudeville Stage (The Dancer Chronicles #2)
  • Hitless Wonder: A Life in Minor League Rock and Roll
  • Hunting Midnight (The Sephardic Cycle, #2)
  • The Little Girls
  • Hottentot Venus: A Novel
  • Between Women: Friendship, Desire, and Marriage in Victorian England
  • Muck City: Winning and Losing in Football's Forgotten Town
  • The Snows of Yesteryear
  • Suzanne Davis Gets a Life
  • Almost Never
  • Sleeping Angel (Ravenwood Mysteries, #3)
Alice Mattison's new novel, WHEN WE ARGUED ALL NIGHT, will be published by Harper Perennial as a paperback original on June 12, 2012. She's the author of 5 other novels, most recently NOTHING IS QUITE FORGOTTEN IN BROOKLYN, 4 collections of stories, and a book of poems. Many of her stories have appeared in The New Yorker and other magazines. She grew up in Brooklyn, New York and has lived for a lo ...more
More about Alice Mattison...