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Want [Reading] ➱ Want ➹ Lynn Steger Strong – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk Grappling with motherhood economic anxiety rage and the limits of language Want is a fiercely personal novel that vibrates with anger insight and loveElizabeth is tired Years after coming to New York Grappling with motherhood economic anxiety rage and the limits of language Want is a fiercely personal novel that vibrates with anger insight and loveElizabeth is tired Years after coming to New York to try to build a life she has found herself with two kids a husband two jobs a PhD―and now they’re filing for bankruptcy As she tries to balance her dream and the impossibility of striving toward it while her work and home lives feel poised to fall apart she wakes at ungodly hours to run miles by the icy river struggling to uiet her thoughtsWhen she reaches out to Sasha her long lost childhood friend it feels almost harmless―one of those innocuous ruptures that exist online in texts But her timing is uncanny Sasha is facing a crisis too and perhaps after years apart their shared moments of crux can bring them back into each other’s livesIn Want Lynn Steger Strong explores the subtle violences enacted on a certain type of woman when she dares to Want things―and all the various violences in which she implicates herself as she tries to survive.

10 thoughts on “Want

  1. Bridgett Bridgett says:

    “I want to tell her that I’m scared I’m too wore out worn down that this constant anxious ache that I have now isn’t about my job or kids or all the ways life isn’t what it should be that maybe it’s just me it’s most of who I am” Imagine if you will the most extreme case of stream of consciousness you could possibly imagine and that will give you some idea what it's like to read Want Oddly though I didn't hate it In fact it almost felt like a guilty pleasure as I flew through this story about a woman's inner turmoil in the face of a dead end job bankruptcy a strained parental relationship anxiety and depression motherhood and an old friendship which brings feelings of guilt to the forefront Narrated entirely by Elizabeth we're given a glimpse into the lives of so many families today particularly in the summer of 2020 when unemployment rates have skyrocketed who have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet “We were eighties babies” Elizabeth explains “born of plenty cloistered by our whiteness and the places we were raised we were both brought up to think that if we checked off certain boxes we’d be fine” Lynn Steger Strong unapologetically gives readers an unflinching first hand look at womanhood in the twenty first century in addition to the workings of the so called middle class America Recommend for those who enjoy literary artsy type novels 35 starsAvailable for purchase now My sincere thanks to NetGalley and Henry Holt Company for my review copy

  2. Proustitute Proustitute says:

    Lynn Steger Strong's Want reads like a highly personal confession of various wants the want of money and stability in one’s life and career; the want of providing stability for one’s children as well as support—emotional financial and otherwise—for one’s spouse; and also the want of creating lasting ties and friendships amid a world where technology has made us feel that people are closer and yet has instead created gaps and chasms among people even in the narrator’s case here her oldest friend SashaThe narrator of Want comes from a socioeconomically privileged background with an Ivy League doctoral education to boot Columbia is never named but hinted at With a husband following his fantasy of a dream job and two children to provide for Steger Strong’s novel charts what it’s like to work at a charter high school in the Bronx—where the students are cattle prodded into performing high on standardized testing rather than offered actual instruction or one on one time that would actually serve them—and also catalogues the increasing adjunctification of higher education in America For those over educated living in New York City this is often paired with being over worked and under paid; this is the case of Steger Strong’s narrator in Want and we witness how she attempts to balance her several jobs declaring bankruptcy despite working nonstop being a parent to her children and as much of a supportive wife to her husband as possible all the while fantasizing about a friendship that fell off the tracks a decade ago—one that is only really continued on social media in fits and startsThere are a lot of interesting passages and seuences to mull over in Want and the books the narrator teaches to her undergrads at night are both resonant of her own prose and also familiarly savory to fans of literary and translated fiction There are echoes of Rachel Cusk here too while Steger Strong maintains her own voice never once fearful of admitting privilege and its loss for her narrator and never scared to shows the flaws in modern life in terms of how it affects family finances mental health and one’s personal relationsWhile there are many uotes I would love to pluck from the book I’m respecting the do not uote mandate of the ARC I read—kindly provided by Henry Holt and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review—and urge those who are all too familiar with the over educated and under paid gap in America right now especially those in education to read this book when it’s published in July 2020 45 stars

  3. Jessica Klahr Jessica Klahr says:

    This is one of my favorite kind of books where I breezed through it in a couple days but there were countless points where I had to stop and appreciate a turn of phrase or a character trait description or something clever or the speaking of some truth that I identified with The narration is in the present tense with sections from past and present flowing together as one which had the beautiful effect of feeling like you’re in the main character’s stream of consciousness It addressed the concept of women attempting to fulfill multiple roles simultaneously from mother daughter wife sister teacher friend and neighbor and the inevitability of failure from trying to be so many things at once Our narrator whose name is revealed at the very end is constantly juggling all these facets of herself and her different privileges and what they mean She is a white woman in her mid thirties she’s in love with her husband and has two young daughters she comes from a wealthy family who she is mostly estranged from and at the beginning of the book she’s filing for bankruptcy racked with crippling debt but is still reuired to make payments on student loans that will never go away Interspersed with her current predicaments is flashbacks to her teenage life where she is friends but like sisters with a girl named Sasha who she has since lost touch with She shifts through all of these components and including her teaching jobs at a high school and night classes at a prestigious college as well as her new friendship with a South American writer who sits in on one of her classes The narration style reminded me of Jenny Offill’s books with a woman recounting dispatches from her everyday like but cohesive and fluid The author also excelled at breaking out of the enjoyable monotonous day to day account and making the reader feel the tension when the stakes are upped especially during an uncomfortable moment with her parents and when something happens to one of her neighbors I can’t say enough positive things about this book I was interested in every part of it

  4. lark benobi lark benobi says:

    A novel about being trapped in exactly the life you were privileged enough to lead The narrator of this novel 34 year old Elizabeth is white and has a PhD but she works as an adjunct and without insurance has been bankrupted by a Caesarian and bad teeth Her husband has a few degrees of freedombut this isn't a novel of overt resentment over women's lives overrun by children an responsibilities so much as it is a relentlessly truthful ruthlessly intelligent story of a woman looking at her life and asking Is it worth it? and finding out that her answer is 'yes' Favorite uote “We cannot live outside the systems and the structures but it turns out I cannot live within them either any” That sounds fairly bleak as far as life philosophies go only Elizabeth is insightful enough to understand that her ability to experience her own life fully as she lives it day to day is exactly what makes it meaningful

  5. Bill Kupersmith Bill Kupersmith says:

    Could I write a fair review of Want without condescension? My professional career included everything the main character misses and wants specifically a tenured professorship at a major research university That of course is the life to which most PhD students aspire Unfortunately in today’s educational world only a small proportion of them obtain anything like it Something like seventy per cent of teaching in American higher education is done by part time temporary staff teaching assistants lecturers and adjuncts Generally these instructors are treated like pariahs by the regular faculty paid execrably receive no health insurance and may not even be allotted a desk much less an office The excuse their employers for such contemptuous treatment is that they have no responsibility for doing research and publication or for advising students although in fact they may be the only faculty members an undergraduate student ever has a chance to talk with Besides her evening class at a university our main character also teaches high school English to racial minority students at a charter school where they discuss uestions like whether or not Ophelia was crazy She is about to be demoted to the ninth grade because she’s not trained to teach “test prep”; Americans believe that they need to prepare for college entrance exams by memorizing vocabulary lists rather than getting a library card and using it to read booksElizabeth¬–we only find out her name late in the book—is in her mid 30s and lives with her husband and nameless children they are called “the two year old” and “the four year old” in Brooklyn where she gets up early to run across the bridge several miles to work We learn that she ran track in high school in Florida Her parents are “attorneys” that’s middle class vernacular for lawyers and Elizabeth and her husband are definitely downwardly mobile She got a doctorate probably from Columba after graduating from Harvard specializing in forgotten twentieth century women novelists though I wasn’t aware that Anita Brookner had been forgotten Her husband worked in the financial sector till the fall of Lehmann Brothers and now is a carpenter specializing in fine woodwork for up scale clients We never really discover how this couple found themselves with their precarious finances living in a very expensive city producing what are essentially luxury goods for the wealthy classes At one point Elizabeth’s husband is offered 20000 dollars to be a sperm donor for the wife of a client We are so involved in the minutiae of their frantic life instead I imagine that like many of us Elizabeth decided to become an English major because she liked reading books though I am surprised she completed a doctorate a program likely to eradicate whatever pleasure one derives from reading In my own case I was fortunate to find I liked doing scholarship though I mostly abandoned reading and writing for recreation till I retired from the university Elizabeth has no scholarly projects but she clearly cares for teaching at least at the college level Unfortunately chatting about books like crafting fine furniture ironically at the end they find themselves assembling Ikea cases for their books is unlikely to provide adeuate sustenance in the current extreme economic climate even without children It had already been clear that the traditional academic model of tenured professorship would go extinct and the Covid 19 virus and Zoom online teaching may well finish it off Like so many things I look back on with nostalgia from my lifetime I am so glad to have had to good fortune to get paid to enjoy the lost world of leisure and scholarship

  6. Paris (parisperusing) Paris (parisperusing) says:

    All that talking years of reading There was a time I thought that all language might contain something of value but most of life is flat and boring and the things we say are too Or maybe it's that most of life is so much stranger than language is able to make room for so we say the same dead things and hope maybe the who and how of what is said can make it into what we meanLynn Steger Strong's latest novel Want opens in 2000 with a doting memory of our heroine Elizabeth at age 16 and how she's tethered her love to her dear friend Sasha a year ahead of her Like all beautiful people Sasha is alluring magnetic an unfailing reminder of the innumerable ways Elizabeth places second to her Seventeen years later Elizabeth is 34 struggling to uphold her family of four as the brood's breadwinner and barely making ends meet as an adjunct professor at underprivileged schools following the misadventures of her self employed husband and the demands of their young daughters She has in so many ways been broken by the trajectory of her life She is not aloneWhile finding transient joy in being a confidant to her students doing morning runs and leaving work unannounced to read books in cafes at the limited leisure of her “magic credit card” she scrolls through the wasteland of social media feeds to find Sasha — married and approaching motherhood again — with whom she yearns to reconcile after her descent to drugs and miscarriage years ago Burned by the backhanded affection of her parents whose abuse lingers long after she escapes Florida for an unaffordable life in New York Elizabeth like so many other women must grapple with wanting so much from a world that does not always want her Who must keep her hands on the steering wheel at all times and must pull herself together at all times even when it seems the very fabric of her life continues to unravel around herWith Want Strong pens an exhilarating evocation of the ways women overcome the hurdles of motherhood the distress of being undesired and the painful severance of once beloved friendships If you liked my review feel free to follow me parisperusing on Instagram

  7. ʚϊɞ Shelley& ʚϊɞ Shelley& says:

    25 StarsThis is a well written story but there was just something about it that I couldn’t connect to It felt like there was so much internalization and many things felt unresolved I really really struggled with the writing style on this one Some great books come from this publisher so I didn’t hesitate to check out this new to me author but the extremely internalized subdued writing felt forced That combined with a lackluster plot and a couple of frustrating elements have me dropping this rating lower than I normally go There were parts of it that I liked but they were far outweighed by the things I took issue with This story has a lot of potential but I feel like it only scratched the surfaceThat cover is absolutely stunning Thank you NetGalley Gallery Books and Lynn Steger Strong for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own#Want #NetGalley

  8. madison madison says:

    SpoilersI feel like an asshole for not liking this book I'm really tired of and not interested in reading books that showcase privileged middle class NYC straightmarried white women with rich parents perspectives I kept hoping this would turn into a lesbians reunited love story with Sasha but despite the narrator regularly describing Sasha in underwear this never came to pass BummerThis may have been to convey the narrator's depression but whew boy reading this book felt like staring at a metronome for three hours I kept grasping for a hint of heart and soul but rarely found it The story seems to go nowhere and ultimately goes nowhere I didn't care about the narrator Elizabeth or her family As a result the points where I assume the author meant to land a gut punch for readers didn't land for me Because we know that Elizabeth grew up in a rich family I think she claims to have grown up middle class??? In what world?? we know that none of the problems she thinks are real are going to go unresolvedTo the narrator most people don't have names but rather ages or nationalities Elizabeth condescendingly refers to her colleagues as the twenty three year old or the twenty five year old Her two Black colleagues are simply referred to as her two Black colleagues Okay My personal favorite of her no name friends and colleagues is her uadrilingual friend who she mentions multiple times Well all right Good on her broOh god and the Chilean writer who also doesn't warrant a name The Chilean writer felt like a foil for the narrator to further expound her woes on readers rather than an actual character The Chilean writer exists as the receptacle for this privileged white woman's pain The conversations are almost always one sided I liked the lost friendship storyline with Sasha best Kept hoping Sasha would fly in in her underwear preferably and steal Elizabeth away from her boring husband and her boring life Ah wellMany thanks to #NetGalley and Henry Holt Company for providing an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review

  9. Matthew Matthew says:

    45 starsGerman philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once proclaimed that “Everything that lives suffers There you have the essence of existence Why this suffering? Because there is WANT to live is to want to want is to suffer If there is a curse on man it is that”While I don’t agree with his statement as a whole – particularly the “essence of existence” which in my opinion is a bit of a melodramatic overreach – it’s difficult not to find merit within the crux of his argument To live is to want whether it be basic necessities or superfluous luxuries To want is to suffer or accurately endure – which is to say acuiring what we want in life results in repercussions in some way shape or form Taken at face value this makes sense After all there is so much we want from the world Problem is it only has so much to give After a while it can become something of a one sided relationship one that’s neither fair nor reciprocal For life is a series of obstacles each designed to challenge our wantsMany of us – myself included – want above all else fulfillment To satisfy whatever’s lacking To fill voids And yet oftentimes these holes are never sealed We take on new ones thinking they’ll counter the balance compensate our emptiness But what happens when we overextend ourselves in an attempt to course correct? When the unfilled voids accumulate and begin to outweigh the fulfillments? When the world refuses to give back what we so desperately want?High school was many things for me but if I were to choose a single word that described my experience it would be “disingenuous” I spent much of it in a shell unsure of how to get out so fearful I was of expressing my true self To be fair I didn’t know what that “true self” consisted of; I was too preoccupied with playing a role that had been unofficially assigned the moment I stepped through the doors of Grosse Pointe North High School Sure a little bit of my identity would establish itself with time But to say I’m nothing like the person I was 25 years ago would be an understatement I know I’m not alone in saying this In fact I’m likely part of the majority Suffice to say I like many entered college with several voids that needed filling many of which I hadn’t been aware even existed If anything they would reveal themselves shortly after I’d fill another particular emptiness; it was an endless cycle In retrospect that’s just how life works but I’ll be damned if I knew that then It was simply easier to dismiss certain voids or at the very least diminish their importance If the conseuences weren’t immediate extreme or obvious they went all but ignored I was after all living; by extension I was also wanting out of lifeLittle did I know it had the potential to lead to suffering When you’re young you’re alive with energy practically invincible Exhaustion is a myth Our thresholds for pain higher than our collective BAC’s And then life catches up throws voids at you many of which aren’t so easy to fill We fall back on our old routines to try and keep up Except we rarely if ever canThe narrator in Lynn Steger Strong’s profound emotional roller coaster Want is a prime example of an individual rife with voids one who’s too overextended and subseuently too exhausted to keep up with their fulfillment She’s the definition of “when it rains it pours” fractured relationship with her domineering parents; multiple concurrent jobs to compensate for her husband’s abrupt career shift; a recent filing for bankruptcy; a lifetime’s worth of psychological issues She’s highly intelligent Ivy educated with a PhD to show for it yet seems barely capable of much of anything other than lengthy runs and sporadic fits of crying Her own only solace comes in the form of her longtime friend Sasha Yet even their relationship is inconsistent; throughout Want Steger’s narrator – who we later learn is named Elizabeth – describes her relationship with Sasha with eual parts passion and disconnect Like many long standing friendships theirs has been through its share of rocky patches with each individual teetering its balance You wonder are they even really friends? Or once friends who make their relationship out to be than it is? At first it feels like the latter Having not spoken for some time Elizabeth reaches out to Sasha; the act is both an olive branch and a Hail Mary attempt at gaining some normalcy in her increasingly chaotic life Historically erratic Sasha remains true to form responding to Elizabeth every so often; in turn Elizabeth assumes it’s just Sasha being Sasha and all but forgives her for it Soon enough however Elizabeth learns that it isn’t just Sasha being Sasha and that her old friend is going through her own tumultuous period Can they fill one another’s emptiness? Not entirely for their respective voids range further and deeper than most Elizabeth struggles to fulfill her role as a mother a wife a provider a daughter; if anything Sasha helps to provide a temporary fulfilling of Elizabeth’s role as a friend Conversely Sasha’s own issues cause her to fall back on the friend she’d once taken for granted It’s messy yes but oftentimes relationships both romantic and plutonic are messy But then again so is life While unpredictable in behavior Elizabeth is steadfast in her self awareness Towards the conclusion of Want she confesses “I no longer believe that there’s such a thing as everybody getting what they want and no one paying for it later” She recognizes the concept of conseuence that living isn’t just wanting – it’s also suffering It isn’t until we come to grips with this realization that we can truly evolve With Want Lynn Steger Strong presents a fearless portrayal of a modern woman in perpetual fear of herself of her connection to others of the world which surrounds her Through Elizabeth Strong fluidly ping pongs from past to present and vice versa offering us as readers a first hand glimpse into the mind of a woman riddled with holes than the Titanic post iceberg with the uestion always being will she sink? Or will she plug enough of the holes to get to shore safely? Either way the result is a suffering synonymous with want And while it may not be the essence of our existence it most certainly plays a major part in it Is it a curse as Schopenhauer proclaimed? Nah It's just how life how is

  10. Heather Heather says:

    A mostly nameless narrator talks about her wants She’s unhappy in her job and she and her husband have filed for bankruptcy They have no money to do much of anything She does seem to like spending time with her children though who she refers to as the 2 year old and the 4 year old Long blocks of text go by in which she refers to others as “she” which made it very difficult for me to remember who she was talking about I guess this is the new avant garde style of writing where hardly anyone has a name I prefer names that I can associate with characters in a book That makes it easier for me to follow the author’s train of thoughtTo me the unnamed narrator who we find out near the end is Elizabeth whined way too much And virtually did nothing to change her circumstances for the better That is my opinion and it doesn’t align with what other reviewers have said If you don’t mind dwelling on depression for 300 pages this may be a great read for you

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