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The Feast of Love

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  8,802 ratings  ·  934 reviews
The Feast of Love is a sumptuous work of fiction about the thing that most distracts and delights us. In a re-imagined A Midsummer Night's Dream, men and women speak of and desire their ideal mates; parents seek out their lost children; adult children try to come to terms with their own parents and, in some cases, find new ones.

In vignettes both comic and sexy, the owner o
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published April 25th 2000 by Pantheon
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Margaret Carmel Yes, I think so. There's a lot to discuss here and I think different people would react differently to the variety of stories and characters here whic…moreYes, I think so. There's a lot to discuss here and I think different people would react differently to the variety of stories and characters here which would make more interesting discussion. (less)
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Average rating 3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,802 ratings  ·  934 reviews

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Will Byrnes
Charles Baxter - image from Sycamore Review

This a delicious novel. Structurally it is a sort of extended spokes on a wheel. The central character is Bradley. We learn of his relationship history, and of people connected with him. A young couple, who outwardly seem very punky are in fact the most traditional. We see his relationship with a very harsh, intense woman who marries him almost for a lark and who then dumps him to return to her boyfriend. In another relationship his first wife leaves
Bill Kerwin
Jul 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A celebration of Eros, a god to be reckoned with--dangerous, transformative, irrational--as told in at least five different voices by characters who have experienced his power. Baxter is a fine stylist, and the different voices are precisely delineated.
Sep 16, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Uh, no. Boring. Charles Baxter has an anoying writing style that got on my nerves, Charles does. The dialog was written horribly, not at all like actual people conversing. And I am not just talking about the two youth characters. All of the characters. They were unnecassarily repetitive. The two youth were the worst though. I know that he was trying emulate the way immature 20-year-olds would actually talk, but . . . gag! I could barely plow through one particular passage were the two idiots wer ...more
Apr 27, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If an older, male author is seized by the urge to speak through the mouth of a pierced, teenage nymphette, he'd better do it convincingly. The parts of this book narrated by the earnestly vapid Chloe read a little like how old men impersonating young girls in chat rooms must come off. She intersperses slang with a few ten-cent words like "mellifluous" (and then reassures us she looked the word up somewhere so we won't suspect she's really an aging academic) and, at one point refers to her "girl- ...more
Oct 03, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: insomniacs, love-fools & Shakey Jake allumni.
A seemingly disoriented post-midnight walk through several lives and loves. People clumsily come together, and come apart, shifting narrators and tones--all thick with the theme of love (and loss) in its' many, many forms.

I loved this books and had a hard time putting it down, literally. (Which rarely happens to me.) At times, however, I was worried it was too cute a novel, given the occasional all-too-precious line, but before my skepticism could fully take hold, Baxter quickly won me back wit
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Touching slice(s) of life, with wonderful structure to its arc; what started off like separate, brilliantly droll and intimate vignettes, grew into teasingly intersecting threads and kept binding together into one shared narrative, driven forward through the variety of distinct, compellingly human voices.

A cavalcade of delightfully and pitifully fumbling relationships and interactions, as a selection of hopelessly human individuals try to carry on, hoping to get their own share of 'the feast of
Lee Klein
Abandoning on pg 100 -- read like labored creative writing. Unbelievable. Mannered syntax. Dull. Vaguely interesting structurally. The occasional nice observation. But then there'd be a line like "We were swoon machines." Ugh. Incites hatred in me. The Jewish professor's inverted syntax? Double ugh. Goes firmly in the "too many books, not enough time to bother with this sort of BS" category. I'll need to read some Bernhard now to recover from this. ...more
Aug 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-ma
There are few books that have possessed me -- taken ahold of me, owned me, inhabited me -- like Feast of Love has. I have been dreaming about the characters. I have been dreaming about reading the book, which is also like living inside the book. I will be thinking about Nude Descending a Staircase, as a painting and as a metaphor, and the next chapter I pick up will mention the painting. I will read a chapter that uses votive candles as a reality and as a metaphor and I will close the book and o ...more
Apr 28, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Someone, or something I read, caused me to pick up this book several years ago at a used-books sale, because its synopsis is not one that would normally have tempted me into buying it, but whatever that something was, I have no recollection of it any longer. And it can't be the "A Midsummer Night's Dream" references as that isn't even one of my favorite Shakespeare plays.

I can tell Baxter is a smart man (his character of Harry proves that) and also a very good writer from the writing in the "pre
Mary McCoy
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this book about ten times and bought it at least four times because I keep giving my copies away to friends. Over time, I've come to see that it's not a perfect book - certain turns of phrase clunk, certain character traits don't ring true. But it's perfect to me, and no matter how many times I've read it, there are still passages that blow me away, move me to tears, and strike me as profoundly true and correct.

There are also lines that I've never noticed before that get my attention o
Jan 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
A dear friend told me about this book several years ago. I bought it, like I always do, and there it sat on my shelf for years - waiting to be read. When asked for a book club suggestion, I gazed at my shelf and it screamed at me "pick me! pick me!" So, it won the suggestion and became the early January pick for book club.

It was beautiful. Well written, heartfelt, and just an overall good read. It was a terrific portrayal of how, despite our good intentions, some things just don't work out the
I almost "really liked" this book, but something kept me from getting up and over that slope. It's a really large-hearted novel - and very, very well-written - but its scope was a little small for my tastes.

In terms of the characters (which, in the end, is all this novel is), I loved reading the Ginsburgs and their careworn intelligence and parental heartbreak, and I enjoyed Diana's immediately recognizable, warfaring vanity; but I couldn't stand reading Chloe and Oscar and their impoverished,
gwen g
Jun 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh, did I love this book. Clever, but not for the sake of being clever; self-aware, but not self-absorbed. And so beautiful. Charles Baxter himself is the narrator, visible only periodically, and his neighbor Bradley is telling his own story intertwined with those of people he knows.

I turned down about 15 different pages that had passages I liked... here are two:

The upshot of it was, I kept Bradley. I fed him and petted him and I built him a doghouse and called his name when I came home, and in
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like to read local authors before heading to a new vacation destination so this fit the bill. I was part-way through before recognizing I'd seen the movie version just a few months ago! Ha! (Big duh, I knew something seemed familiar!) It was fun, engaging, meaningful writing throughout and by the end came together in lovely ways I hadn't expected. Per usual, while the movie was decent, the book provided a depth that the film couldn't achieve. ...more
Oct 02, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Goodness this was hard to get through. I couldn't finish it. It was written Phil Donahue confessional style. Everyone seems to have the same voice, even if they're an old Jewish man grieving the loss of his drug addict son, a young tattoed alternative in-love couple, or a middle-aged man surviving the tatters of a second failed marriage. Maybe the movie is better? ...more
Sep 11, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I had such high hopes for this. Baxter is well awarded and I assumed this would be great. It's terribly disappointing and somewhat insulting. This is a boomer male who tries to write in the voice of a mix of characters but they all sort of sound the same. Of particular annoyance is the character Chloe, a teen punk whose monologue is a mix of weird slang (that Baxter seems to think teens use) and MFA-type $5 words. Read the 1-star reviews by members Emily and Corina, I agree with them entirely. I ...more
Katherine Malmo
Nov 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book. It has become an all time favorite (for teh moment :). I can't quite articulate what about it I love so much. It's a good story told in an interesting way. The dialogue is perfect. I just find it so inspiring as a writer. He breaks the rules and he tells a good story. ...more
Baxter's novel unfolds like an origami swan. The entire concept is beautiful and intricate. Upon first inspection it wows. How complex! Amazing! What an original narrative, layering individual perspectives within, among, alongside one overarching meta-narrative. The whole novel is deeply hyper-conscious of its own creation from page one.

The characters, residents of the same Michinan town are all comfortably familiar, sketched as someone recognizable. Baxter illuminates Ann Arbor's sedate Midwes
Manik Sukoco
Dec 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's such a thing as comfort-eating. Food you turn to when feeling sad or lonely. Food that is familiar, yet delicious and can help get your spirits up each time you turn to it. Well, I believe there is also such a thing as comfort reading. It is one of the best novels that I read last year. After reading it for the first time, I've found myself returning to it again and again, turning to favorite pieces, or simply reading it from cover to cover, on long, rainy, lonely weekends. It's the kind ...more
Jul 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mostly everybody (proven)
This is a book I often recommend when asked to recommend a book by someone whose taste I don't know well.

It's not that it's "safe" (although everyone seems to like it) but that it's one of those transcendent middebrow books like Salinger's--Shawshank Redemption, which everyone also likes, does the same thing in the movie genre--that confirms everything you already thought or wanted to believe, and makes it seem richer than you'd ever thought. For which I'm grateful.
I can't finish this, 10 chapters to go and it's so infuriatingly bad that I can't even stand to keep listening to this.

The female characters are written with this greasy tone of contempt that makes me just feel gross.
Jan 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was not expecting to like this book when I picked it up. A used bookstore had clearance books on sale 7 for 5 dollars and I needed a seventh book, so I just threw this one on top of my stack. I'd heard of Baxter, but wasn't too familiar with his writing. I was kind of put off at the beginning by the meta-narrative style of the novel, but once I got into the stories of these characters, I was engrossed in their lives. Each chapter in this book is a vignette that sketches each character's love l ...more
Elisabeth Kinsey
Baxter's style is so easy going, you forget you are being led into intertwining plots and characters' lives. Love this subtle tour de force. ...more
Jim Leckband
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If Mr. Baxter was writing in earlier times this book would have been written in the manner of The Decameron or The Canterbury Tales where a framing excuse is used to write disparate tales that often don't have much to do with each other. Baxter isn't quite that off of that though - the framing device is an author (Charles Kaufman Baxter) waking up in the middle of the night, going for a walk and meeting another insomniac, Bradley Smith, who acts as Baxter's intercessor for the many tales of love ...more
Mar 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kim Savage
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An exploration of love and all its varieties. All of its confusion and pain and wisdom. In this book it takes on many forms. Beauty. Humor. Tragedy. Charlie, Bradley the human and Bradley the dog. Kathryn, Diana, Chloe and Oscar, Esther and Harry. All from different walks of life, but all with their own love story. I’m emotionally involved with all the characters. I don’t usually like love stories, but this one has its own unique twist. It touches the heart. A very good read.
Elizabeth Sulzby
Sep 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Most interesting book for a fellow Ann Arborite. Made into a silly movie set in a northwestern town with few interesting characteristics. I have read the book a number of times and saw the movie once. Just never put anything about it on Goodreads before. I made up the dates below as placeholders.

P.S. You cannot make love on the 50th yard line of the Big House any more. (A 20 min. walk from my house on Scio Church.) And if Jitters was Espresso Royale--it was descimated by the Coronavirus this yea
Rebekah Redinger
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was totally entranced by this book!!!! LOVED IT!!
Reyna Gentin
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I very much enjoyed this insightful and clever book. It explores many paradigms of love, and is sad and moving and hopeful.
Jul 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone

I read this because I was planning to watch the movie. The book was full of surprises. I knew that Charles Baxter taught at the University of Michigan, a school I once attended, but was delighted to find The Feast of Love set in Ann Arbor, MI, where I lived for many years. I often read just for the pleasure and experience of being taken to places I will probably never go to myself, but there is a unique pleasure to recognizing the details of weather, types of people, buildings and streets, while
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Around the Year i...: The Feast of Love, by Charles Baxter 1 10 Feb 25, 2017 11:54AM  

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Charles Baxter was born in Minneapolis and graduated from Macalester College, in Saint Paul. After completing graduate work in English at the State University of New York at Buffalo, he taught for several years at Wayne State University in Detroit. In 1989, he moved to the Department of English at the University of Michigan--Ann Arbor and its MFA program. He now teaches at the University of Minnes ...more

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