Coffee & Books discussion

23 views
Discussion Archives > February 2017: A Little Life

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Rachel Jorquera , Moderator (new)

Rachel Jorquera  (racheljorquera) | 3014 comments Mod
Discussion starts here!


message 2: by Rachel Jorquera , Moderator (new)

Rachel Jorquera  (racheljorquera) | 3014 comments Mod
I pulled some Q's from LitLovers site!

1. Why the title, A Little Life? Certainly Jude's life is hardly insignificant or small. Here's what Hanya Yanagihara said when asked by Newsweek if the title is ironic: "All life is small.... Life will end in death and unhappiness, but we do it anyway." The Newsweek interviewer referred to the author's view of life as tragic and futile. Does that make it small? What do you think?

2. An editor once advised Yanagihara to trim the amount of time spent on Jude's childhood, arguing that concentrating so heavily on his physical and psychological deprivations would repulse readers. Yanagihara refused to cut. What do you think? Should she have trimmed the sections? How difficult or painful were those passages for you?

3. Talk about the four main characters: Willem, JB, and Malcolm, as well as Jude. How are they similar, how are they different, and what is behind the strength of their long-lasting friendships? How would you compare their male friendship to those among women?

4. A Little Life focuses heavily on the inner lives of its characters, with very little attention paid to exterior surroundings. Do you feel the interiority slows the book down, makes it drag in parts? Or do you find the inward focus enriches the story, making it compelling, even enthralling?

5. Were you disappointed with the lack of central, well-developed female characters? Yanagihara, again in Newsweek, said that “men are offered a much, much smaller emotional vocabulary to work with,” which makes them more challenging to write about. Women, on the other hand, have a well-trod emotional landscape and are less interesting to her as a writer. What are your thoughts?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)


message 3: by DebsD (new)

DebsD | 8 comments Why is nobody talking about this book??? I haven't even finished it yet and I already want to give it at least 6 stars. I'm blown away. I'm only here on GR because I had to leave it in another room so I could take a break from the overwhelmingness of it!


message 4: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 28 comments I read this over a year ago and it has really stayed with me. It is a truly amazing book.
In reply to some of the questions above, yes life, in the grand scheme of things is small, and I agree that it is tragic to view it in this way. Admittedly death does result in unhappiness, but only for those left behind. The life that has been lived can be full of joy and happiness or perhaps, mostly, somewhere in between joy and despair.
I am pleased the author stuck to her guns and didn't cut out the parts she was asked to. You live through Jude's torment and pain and, whilst uncomfortable to read, it makes you hope that, more than anything, he can find some level of peace in his future. You're rooting for him all the way.
I liked the interiority of the book. It took away all the "filler fluff" and focused only on the integral subjects... the characters themselves.
I wasn't disappointed with any aspect of the book, much less it's lack of female characters. It wasn't needed. The book was brilliant without them.
I will bleat on to anyone that will listen about this book and encourage everyone to read it. I came across a copy in a second hand book store at the weekend and I had to pick it up. I was very tempted to buy it (I read a library copy) but I know I will never re-read it. Probably because I will never forget it.


message 5: by DebsD (new)

DebsD | 8 comments Andrea wrote: "I will bleat on to anyone that will listen about this book and encourage everyone to read it. "

And me. I still haven't figured out how the author managed to do what she did. I haven't even quite figured out what it was that she did, only that it's astonishing. At some point I'll write a review, but I can't do it yet - I'm still reeling!


message 6: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 28 comments Debstr wrote: "I haven't even quite figured out what it was that she did, only that it's astonishing..."

You are spot on with that. It's very difficult to review a book that is reall, quite indecsribable. Yes, you can give a synopsis on "four friends, set in new york, story about friendship etc". It doesn't even come close to prtraying just how bloody good the writing is. I had my gob hanging open several times in utter awe at her way with words.


back to top