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Arcadia

Arcadia

Scritto da Lauren Groff

Narrato da Andrew Garman


Arcadia

Scritto da Lauren Groff

Narrato da Andrew Garman

valutazioni:
4/5 (66 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
11 ore
Pubblicato:
Jan 1, 2012
ISBN:
9781464038303
Formato:
Audiolibro

Descrizione

Lauren Groff’s acclaimed debut novel The Monsters of Templeton was short-listed for the Orange Prize. Her second novel, Arcadia opens in the late 1960s with a group of young idealists forming a commune in western New York State. Into this group is born Bit, who grows into a quiet, distant man. Over the course of 50 years, Bit witnesses the utopia crumble and the world change in unimaginable ways.

“Richly peopled and ambitious … is one of the most moving and satisfying novels I’ve read in a long time.”—Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
Pubblicato:
Jan 1, 2012
ISBN:
9781464038303
Formato:
Audiolibro


Informazioni sull'autore

Lauren Groff is the New York Times bestselling author of three novels, The Monsters of Templeton, Arcadia, and Fates and Furies, and two short story collections, Florida and Delicate Edible Birds. She has won the PEN/O. Henry Award, and been a two-time finalist for the National Book Award and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her work has been featured in The New Yorker, along with several Best American Short Stories anthologies, and she was named one of Granta's 2017 Best Young American Novelists. She lives in Gainesville, Florida, with her husband and sons.  

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4.1
66 valutazioni / 67 Recensioni
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Recensioni dei lettori

  • (4/5)
    This was certainly a book out of my usual reads. I know very little about life in a commune. I really enjoyed the first half of the novel getting to know Bit and his childhood. I found the second half interesting, but found myself rushing to get to the end.
  • (5/5)
    So gorgeous. So New York, in that weird country New York way. A detailed yet often dreamy portrait of people loving each other and struggling to balance integrity with relationship, youthful optimism with aging caution. In Lauren Groff's scrumptious prose. If you can still get the hardcover somewhere, give yourself a moment to fully grok it before you immerse yourself in the decay of Utopia.
  • (3/5)
    I liked 3/4 of this novel, much more than I thought I would. The story of a boy raised on a commune felt very realistic and was very detailed and engaging. I was happy that the author continued the story after he leaves the commune, describing how hard it was for him to enter the "real world". I found that this final third portion of the novel went on for far too long and became dull and repetitious, so much so I found myself wishing a main character would hurry up and die! I would have given four starts if someone had chopped 50-60 pages off the ending!
  • (4/5)
    Excellent book. Lauren Groff is fast becoming a favorite. I particularly liked the port of this story that took place in Arcadia, but enjoyed it all. I felt a kinship with Bit, although I didn't grow up in a commune; I did have parents who loved me and freedom to explore woods and fields, and a close kinship with nature. What resonated most for me was how different Bit's and Helle's childhoods and memories were, although they were young at the same time and place. The main difference was the parents, and although Bit's were not perfect, they provided him with security and stability.Lauren Groff's prose is wonderful, and the story is a good one. Highly recommended!
  • (4/5)
    A richly written, long close look at intertwined lives with the author's balanced characters: one active, one passive; one wild, one responsible; one loving, one selfish; good parents, bad ones--a matrix of personalities/actions. Life in a single place (mostly)-the hippie communal house and country lands of Arcadia. Times in several periods from near history (the 60s) to the distopian future (now). Do not read if you do not thick language and only want a quick propelled plot.
  • (4/5)
    Engrossing, gorgeous, sad.
  • (2/5)
    I read this back in October 2014, but never got around to reviewing it. Lauren Groff is a problem for me. I abandoned her first novel, The Monsters of Templeton, after 75 pages, because I was bored to tears. I would have abandoned this one, too, but it was a book club selection and therefore as mandatory to finish as homework.This book is about Bit Stone, a kid raised in a hippie commune whose de facto leader is a musician who seems decidedly shady. The commune predictably collapses into chaos after a drug raid, and then the narrative turns to Bit as an adult. There are more drugs, there is degenerative illness, there is a worldwide epidemic of apocalyptic proportions. All this is told in prose that is often arrestingly beautiful.What doesn't this book have? An ounce of emotion. The consensus in my book club was that the book viewed all of its characters from a distance, and the effect was beautiful but chilly. Part of the problem for me might be a matter of expectations. The McGuffin of her books is so intriguing (a Loch Ness monster; cultish hippies) that it leads me to believe I'm in for a great story. But Groff is not a storyteller. She is, apparently, an artiste.
  • (3/5)
    This is a book that is melancholy - written beautifully, but emotionally, a bit a flat. The characters were interesting, and I enjoyed reading about their life, but they never seemed to go anywhere. Bit is still the same innocent kid, even after growing up. Hannah, always looking for something that doesn't exist. Helle, lost, never found. The only really "real" character is Grete.I found the setup of Arcadia incredibly interesting. I suspect that its a fairly good representation of how a commune was setup. However - the timing of the story, seemed off - especially at the end the book. I think it could have been a much better book if it didn't end in the near future - it didn't fit the first two parts of the story, hippie Arcadia, and modern Boston. I also wished it closed Helle's Story - even a mention would have been all that is needed.
  • (5/5)
    I am a big fan of Groff's first novel The Monsters of Templeton, but put off reading Arcadia when it was released. Maybe the hippie cover turned me off, having lived through the time and not wanting to relive it. But, this novel is about so much more than a time and a place. It is a timeless story about memory, families and community. It is a elegant novel that brought me close to tears. Aracadia reminds me of Ishiguro's novels, especially Never Let Me Go.
  • (4/5)
    Interesting depiction of what life might be like for someone raised on a commune. Over-simplified, I'm sure, but still painted a vivid image in my mind.
  • (5/5)
    I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. It is a beautiful story about a commune set up on idealistic principals that it doesn't always adhere to. The characters were well developed and interesting. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of Arcadia and the message of living in the moment. I am very glad that I picked this one up from the library.k
  • (3/5)
    I'd have enjoyed this one more if its perspective reached out beyond that of its protagonist, Bit. The first half detailing the commune could have been great with a broader perspective. Bit's nostalgia-shrouded later life, taking up the latter half of the book, had less interest for me.
  • (5/5)
    I would never have picked this up on my own. It was a book club pick. It is so beautifully written and the story will stay with me for a long time.
  • (5/5)
    This book was so unexpectedly moving and beautiful. Yes, I had read that others thought Lauren Groff's writing really quite beautiful, and I was looking forward to a good tale set at a time when communes and co-ops were springing up all over far-flung fertile corners of the USA; but I did not bargain for such a vivid and immersive experience.'Bit' is a small boy, just "a little bit", born while his hippy parents are part of a caravan of like-minded idealists on the road and searching for their new communal home. Our story begins in the early 1970s, when he is already about five and we see the colourful and stimulating world he and his parents live in - initially through the eyes of a bright and sensitive child. Arcadia is the name of their home, many acres of arable land and woodland surrounding a large and dilapidated old property - Arcadia House. There are fruit trees and a stand of Maples they tap for syrup. We see the Arcadians at work and play as they gradually mould their own society, build their homes, and bring up their own generation of children according to their own values. The story evolves and we move forward to a time when Bit is about 12, and later still to his mid-teens. Arcadia has grown as well, and predictably undergone subtle though significant changes. Without wishing to give too much of the story away, as Bit and his friends and family absorb those changes, Arcadia's existence and setting in the local landscape develops in ways its founders did not foresee. The imprint of the place's DNA though, remains indelibly present in those whose home it has been.Later in his life, Bit lives in New York with his daughter, and his parents each have their own life elsewhere. All of the characters are so fully drawn. I cared so much about what becomes of them. Groff takes the reader on a journey through these people's lives, and I went with them almost as if in a dream. The final section of the book is set in a very near-future, as circumstances will lead Bit to return to where everything begins. Completely engrossing, and beautifully written, a really memorable novel.
  • (5/5)
    I enjoyed Lauren Groff's latest novel, Fates and Furies, earlier this year, so I thought I would give Arcadia a try. The two books couldn't be more different--with the exception that they both showcase the author's fine writing. Arcadia takes us through roughly 40 years in the life of Bit Stone, the fist child born in the commune of Arcadia. Groff paints an idyllic if makeshift childhood for Bit amongst the waterfalls, forest, birds, and hippies. The Arcadians welcome anyone and everyone, which sometimes gets them into a bit of trouble; yet they generally eschew the outside world--except when money is short and their charismatic leader goes off on a tour of singing engagements.Of course, as Bit matures, he begins to see the snakes and thorns in paradise: the privileges accorded to their leader despite an "all for one" philosophy, the growing drug abuse among his peers, his adored mother's weariness with a life of poverty, and more. Fast forward about 20 years. Arcadia has fallen apart, and Bit now lives in New York with his young daughter, making his living as a photography professor. Bit fills in the gaps on all the characters from his past life, and the reader gains insight into how the clash between his unconventional upbringing and the world he has had to adjust to have shaped his life. The story takes a somewhat apocalyptic turn towards the end that I don't want to give away. But overall, Arcadia is a novel built upon the power of memories, hope, and love, and in Bit Stone, Groff has created a character both recognizable and unforgettable.
  • (5/5)
    Okay, anyone considering writing a book on the hippie communes of the 1960s - 1970s: put down your pen and start pondering a different novel. This is the be-all, end-all, final word on all that.The Free People are a large collective founded by a charismatic musical leader. They live together in assorted temporary homes on a large landholding with a decayed mansion. They are well organized, with a bakery, gardens, a midwife service. But they are also hungry and cold much of the time, not a great atmosphere for raising children "without ownership", as the idealists dream on.Bit is a premature baby, son of Abe and Hannah. We see Arcadia through his observant and older-than-his-years eyes. He sees his mother's seasonal depression and his father's clashes with Handy, the founder. He sees the pain of Handy's children, neglected by him and Astrid, who leaves to start a midwife school in Tennessee. He soaks in all the beauty of his physical surroundings and the bumbling incompetence of the collective as they allow visitors to overwhelm their limited resources.Bit grows to be one of the Ados (adolescents) and although he does everything dumb teenagers do in any environment, his small stature, empathy and loving nature make him a beloved figure in Arcadia. Tragedy befalls as it would even in the suburbs, and the communards struggle on until their notoriety leads to the destruction of Arcadia and the scattering of the one-big-not-always-happy family.Bit moves into adulthood, missing everyone. As surprising reunions and splits occur, the plot deepens as everything changes and comes to a head when he loses his parents but regains his lost family.This is a classic, a never-to-be-forgotten magical tale. Thank you, Lauren Groff, for creating this difficult utopia and for understanding fully how those of us what participated were forever shaped by those unique times.
  • (5/5)
    One of the best books I've read this year, Arcadia is a beautiful, moving saga that tells the story of Bit from womb almost to tomb. The story centers around his relationship to a commune his parents settled in when he was born and is told in four parts that depict four stages in his life: the first remarkably told from the perspective of an observant toddler in the late 1960s, the second from an adolescent in the early 1980s as the commune clashes with Reagan's war on drugs and the old timers clash with the newcomers, the third as a roughly 40 year-old adult in roughly the present as he works to raise his young child, and the final set in the near future as he returns to his parents home on the commune as global warming and a pandemic dominate the headlines.

    Arcadia covers so much emotional ground that it is hard to reduce it to any individual theme. Bit's looking up to idealistic but practical father, his trying to support his mother whose depression is especially severe in winters, his learning from the local "witch" Verda, his lust, marriage and subsequent loss of Helle the daughter of the commune's founder, and his raising their daughter Grete from a typical toddler to a teenager with an independent streak.

    Arcadia, the commune, is like a character too--one that flourishes, collapses, and then is partially reborn as a tiny fraction of itself. And Arcadia casts a long shadow on the lives of the people who lived their, especially the children like Bit who were born there and knew nothing of the outside world until they were older, a shadow that Lauren Groff traces as various of the dozens of characters cross paths with Bit as the story unfolds. Throughout it all, Groff is not naive about the ideals of the commune and the large shortfalls of its residents, but her tone is more respectful than it is satirical.

    Arcadia is not particularly plot driven, and all the dialogue is woven into the text without quotation marks, but it is in many ways a relatively conventional family saga--albeit an unconventional family and unconventionally told with only glimpses backward at many of the major events.
  • (5/5)
    There is something magical about Arcadia. I was sucked in to the story from the first sentence, and I know that the characters will stay with me for a long time. Highly recommended!
  • (4/5)
    In the beginning ... this story was just a little too stereotypical in characters and action, but I warmed to the book when things stopped being so hippie dippy idyllic. That's it; give me pain and suffering, and things start to bogie story wise for me. This is your 1960s large commune that struggles from the beginning, but most of the bizarre people assembled start out working towards a common goal. There are many characters introduced as Groff tries to give you a lay of the communal landscape, some will be front and center, and some will just be rather cardboard and beaded figures moving around in the background.
  • (5/5)
    There is some wonderful prose here. Ostensibly the story of a boy growing up on a hippy commune in the 1970's. It begins there and spans a half a century of change and turmoil. Ultimately it is a book about the fragility of life, love, death. It is about the search for an always elusive 'home'. It questions whether one can have both freedom and community. There are some big issues tackled here and they are handled quite beautifully. I really enjoyed this book.
  • (4/5)
    A beautifully written book, telling the story of Bit, a baby born in an upstate New York hippie commune in the 1960s. The book tracks the rise and fall of Arcadia, which grows from a tiny, freezing community of like-minded beatniks to a two-thousand strong counter-cultural hub that eventually collapses under egos, permissiveness, drugs and sex. Alongside this broader story you get the story of Bit, growing up with rose-tinted memories of Arcadia and trying to make his way in the wider world. There's so much richness to this book, both at a language level and at the level of the story. It's slow-paced, but it's worth the time you spend on it.
  • (5/5)
    Beautiful story embedded in elegant and breathtaking prose. Heartbreaking yet hopeful. Will be carried with me for a long, long time. I anticipate many re-reads and new discoveries each time.

    A story of Bit - a little Bit of hippie - his parents, his community, and oh so much more. It swells out into the world and shrinks back into itself and each phase is so fulfilling to experience, as a reader.

    Too many favorite quotes to put in so I'll just include the very first and the very last:

    "The old man's face is changing. Astonishment steals over the hoary features. Startled, Bit can't look away. The eyes blink but come to a stop, open. Bit waits for the next puff of smoke from the cragged nose. When it doesn't come a knot builds in his chest. He lifts his head from Abe's shoulder. Aslow purple spreads over hte old man's lips; a fog, an ice, grows over his eyeballs. Stillness threads itself through the old man... ...In such perfect dawn, even the old man is beautiful, the blue of his beard under the newly luminous skin of his cheek, the softness in his jaw, the tufts in his ears touched golden. He has been gentled in living light. He has been made good."

    "Pay attention, he thinks. Not to the grand gesture, but to the passing breath."
  • (3/5)
    It started out great, but kind of fell apart in the second half. I just lost interest....and decided to abandon.
  • (4/5)
    Pure, I kept thinking as I read, this is pure. The prose rings like a bell and howls like a dog. The seasons of Bit struck me as close to home as anything has these past few months, and I lived in him entire for these few days. The book begins with his early childhood, an early 70s commune seen through five year old eyes. From that base, we meet Bit again as an adolescent, then as a middle-aged man, and finally as he will be a few years from now. The world Groff built herein is so very believable, from the parts in the past to the parts in the near future, and that's one of the strengths of her novel. Her whole, believable, entirely alive characters are another.

    This isn't light reading, nor is it easy. This is a journey over time, over emotions, and over all the scary things one can conjure in a life. The reconciliation, (for one knows, almost from the first page that there must be some redemption somewhere), is breathtaking and sere and lovely.

    There are pieces that feel wedged in, and I'm knocking it half a star for those uneven spots. I may bump it back up on a re-read, but then again, I don't know that I can bear to re-read it. 4.5
  • (4/5)
    I might give this only 3.5 stars, were that possible, but I enjoyed this book a lot, so 4 stars it is. Also read for book club (though we may not end up reading it as a group, it turns out) I was a little skeptical about it at first, because I am not a fan of the present tense. In the end, though, Groff's lyricism and style is never pretentious, and I found the book both entertaining and moving. The present tense here was worthwhile, even necessary. Perhaps the highest praise I can give the book is that it made me want to write.
  • (4/5)
    This novel is a big, strange, ambitious marvel. I greatly admire it and I loved reading most of it despite the fact that the prose is slightly flowery for my taste. It is a portrait of an artist as a child and young man set in an American utopian community in the 1970s. Bit is the son of two of the idealistic founders of the rural commune of Arcadia. The story of his early life entwines with the story of the commune itself. When the commune closes, the book continues to follow its community members, especially Bit and his family. I will say that I was most taken with the first sections about the very young and teenaged Bit, as he is a beautifully rendered child character (and I don't always love the way that child characters are portrayed in fiction, particularly sensitive, precocious ones, but this little guy was lovely and I was sorry to lose him in the adult that he eventually becomes). The pacing of the novel stumbles for me after it leaves Arcadia. I grew somewhat weary of the non-stop grief of the last two long sections, particularly the last, which is both dystopian and very sad despite the slight rays of hope peeking through the clouds at the end. I felt that the heart and soul of the novel was in its first two sections and I almost wish that I had stopped reading there, with the fall of Arcadia, but with the echo of its founding principles still resonant.
  • (4/5)
    Well-written. Thoughtful about the nature of community. Made me feel like being quiet.
  • (5/5)
    Have you ever been so moved by something that you had to find something else to occupy your attention right now so that you weren't completely overwhelmed? That was how I felt after finishing Arcadia, sitting on my bed on a sunny morning last week, wondering what the hell happened to my life that books about fathers who grew up in hippie communes could suddenly be so terribly important to me.

    When I say I hate hippie novels, you have to understand, I don't hate hippies, or even the late 60s. What I hate is the awful strawberry-colored glaze that gets drizzled over everything in those books, the implication that since the world wasn't changed then it can never change now, the sense that nothing will ever again be as perfect as 1969. I suppose it's entirely likely that some people do feel that way, but I don't see why I should have to read about it.

    Arcadia is not like that. Arcadia is, instead, a book about utopia, and what it means to grow up in one given the fact that utopias always fail. The title of the book is also the name of the commune, founded by charismatic Handy and his icy wife Astrid and their pack of followers, including our narrator, Bit. The first baby born in the commune (actually in the caravan on the way there), Bit knows nothing but Arcadia until his teens. He lives in a world where everybody works to build a better community, where marijuana is a major cash crop and sex is just a thing that happens. Seeing Arcadia through young Bit's eyes, you can't help but fall in love with it, even as you know - just as his mother obviously does - that there are some serious problems brewing, and nothing lasts forever.

    I think the greatest success of Arcadia is Bit himself, a whole and entire person even at five years old, plausible but not necessarily completely realistic. (I'd like to reread this next too Room, actually, to see how the two child narrators compare.) His intensely generous view of the world helps you to love the things he loves, and his incredible perception makes sure you do it with full awareness of their flaws.While the promotion for the book puts the focus on the commune - including that incredibly 60s cover - Bit is the star of the novel, not Arcadia.

    The novel is divided into three parts, the first (and longest) taking place in Arcadia itself, the second concerning Bit's life after Arcadia falls apart, and the third set in a not-too-distant future when Bit and his daughter have to care for his ailing mother amid increasing global catastrophe. I liked the Arcadia section best, myself, but the final section was also excellent, managing to avoid moralizing about climate change and the potential end of the world while using those themes to bring the novel to a truly excellent finish. Because Arcadia is a novel about how nothing lasts forever - not the good things in life, but not the bad ones, either.
    In a Sentence:

    Arcadia is one of those wonderful novels that takes a truly unusual character and makes his life important and relevant to everyone's.
  • (4/5)
    Story about a young boy born in a commune type community the story follows him through his life in the commune as a child and teen to his life in the outside world as an adult and his marriage up to his parents death.
  • (5/5)
    We follow Bit (so named because at birth, he was just a little bit of a hippie) from his childhood in the commune of Arcadia during the early 1970s to his adulthood in the near distant future. Bit is a special boy, sensitive and caring, loved by everyone in the close-knit community of Arcadia. Despite the fact that Arcadia is the only way of life that Bit has ever known, he is a keen observer of both the benefits and the challenges. As the community changes, Bit must adapt as well, but despite the changes, Bit carries what he has learned in Arcadia with him throughout his life. Groff makes this observation in the following passage:"He thinks of the rotten parachute they played with as kids in Arcadia: they hurtle through life aging unimaginably fast, but each grasps a silken edge of memory that billows between them and softens the long fall." This story is beautifully written. I found myself reflecting on aspects of my own life and community as I compared them with Bit's community. Groff captures both the joys and the challenges of living in a highly interdependent community and also reflects the ways in which early experiences shape our adulthoods in different ways. But her real triumph is Bit. Not since Owen Meany have a met a character who is as unique and as easy to relate to as Bit. I was fascinated by the story because I was seeing things through his eyes.