Heather, the Totality

Heather, the Totality

by Matthew Weiner


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The explosive debut novel - about family, power and privilege - from the creator of the award-winning Mad Men.

Named a Barnes & Noble Best Book of the Year

Mark and Karen Breakstone have constructed the idyllic life of wealth and status they always wanted, made complete by their beautiful and extraordinary daughter Heather. But they are still not quite at the top. When the new owners of the penthouse above them begin construction, an unstable stranger penetrates the security of their comfortable lives and threatens to destroy everything they've created.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316435321
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 06/12/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 467,329
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Acclaimed storyteller Matthew Weiner has been entertaining audiences for two decades, most recently as writer, creator, executive producer, and director of Mad Men, one of television's most honored series. He also worked as a writer and executive producer on The Sopranos, along with several comedy series, and made his feature film debut in 2014. Weiner studied at Wesleyan University and earned his MFA from the University of Southern California.

What People are Saying About This

author of Moonglow - Michael Chabon

"Heather, The Totality is a tour de force of control, tone and razor-slash insight. In its clear-eyed anatomist's gaze and its remarkable combination of empathy and pitilessness I hear echoes of Flaubert and Richard Yates, with a deeply twisted twist of Muriel Spark at her darkest. I could not put it down."

author of Carry Me Down - M.J Hyland

"A miraculous and fearless novel, Heather is unprecedented. As well as being smart, sharp and readable, it proves there are still fresh and exciting ways to write fiction."

author of His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

"Heather, The Totality gripped me at once and had me spellbound. It was partly the absolute certainty of the world he was describing, the sense that beyond these brilliantly chosen details there was a wealth of similarly truthful social and psychological perception unstated. And partly the slightly fastidious form, the sound of a voice a hair's breadth away from affectation, but so firmly where it was that there was no question of turning away and not hearing what was going to come next. Then there was the ice-cold mercilessness, of a kind that reminded me (oddly, I suppose, but there it was) of Evelyn Waugh."

Nick Cave

"I cringed and shuddered my way through this short, daring novel to its terrible inevitable end. Each neat, measured paragraph carpaccios its characters to get to the book's heart - one of Boschian self-cannibalising isolation. A stunning novel. Heather, The Totality blew me away."

author of L.A. Confidential and Perfidia - James Ellroy

"This short novel of upper-crust anomie and class-divide obsession is a scorcher! It's the classic noir construction: the short walk off the long ledge and the plummet to an indifferent Hell. Matthew Weiner demonically delivers the goods! Read this book in one gasping breath."

Customer Reviews

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Heather, the Totality 1.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such nonsense. Wish I could have my money back
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wish I had read the reviews. I was shocked to pay $11.99 for a 78 page book! I'm hoping to get a refund from B&N.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Waste of time and money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not worth the hype.....very disappointing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book end abruptly! So short !
anrobe More than 1 year ago
I am really struggling with this review. There were things that I liked about this one and things that didn't quite work for me. Since finishing, I've heard several interviews with the author and that has given me a bit more of a positive perspective than I had when I initially finished. I know much of the buzz for this one came from the fact that the author is well known for his work with Mad Men. After hearing him talk about this book and his intention in writing it, I definitely had a better feeling about the book as a whole. I suspect this is due to the fact that this book covers some topics that aren't easy to read. I also heard someone say something very negative about this novel before reading it so I'm wondering if my initial reactions may have been tied to that initial impression that I had from their negative remark. This is more of a novella than a novel (130 pages) - it's a very quick read and isn't a difficult read in any way, shape or form. There is an odd structure to this one - it's told in a very detached 3rd person narrative. The writing is very clear and realistic - nothing flowery here. It didn't bother me but I know many reviewers have mentioned that it's structure was discombobulating for other readers. The structure gave the story the feeling of a script in some way which may be tied to his being a screenwriter. The story itself is where I think many people became a little frustrated with the novel. It is an interwoven narrative that tells the stories of a well off family and a construction worker. The author goes into great detail about the family - the parents, in particular. We learn a great deal about them and their innermost thoughts. Some of these thoughts are disturbing and feel icky. And the construction worker's story is all around disturbing. How Matthew Weiner pulls these two narratives together is interesting. I feel of two minds about it ... one one hand, I see where he's going and find it fascinating and yet, I also understand why it's been so frustrating to many readers. I can't say too much without ruining the book for you so if I sound cagey, that is why. I found the story of the construction worker to be the most fascinating of the two narratives but that goes well with my own personal interests around nature versus nurture. His perspective was disturbing but compelling. In fact, I'd almost have loved to have read a whole book about him and his life. That story line stayed with me. The overall themes of obsession and choice really resonated with me. The exploration of nature versus nurture. The contemplation about parenting and freedom. The idea of moral ambiguity just permeates this book in such a great way. And so ... that was all good. And yet, the book also left me feeling uncomfortable ... almost leaving a bad taste in my mouth or something. I liked it ... but I didn't love it. I completely understand the critical reviews. I get it completely. But, I liked it more than I expected based on the reviews I'd read and the feedback I'd heard before reading it. I have a hard time recommending this one because it is such a decisive book. If the synopsis sounds interesting and the themes are interesting to you, I think you should give this one a shot. If not, you may want to skip it.
Myndia More than 1 year ago
To begin with, this book is entirely too short to be considered a novel, and too long to be a short story, so…a novella it is. And to summarize, well, the title makes it kind of obvious. It’s about Heather. From the early pre-Heather days in her parent’s relationship to the day when, as a teenager, her life sits on a dangerous precipice, unbeknownst to her. At first, it seems to be a character study of Heather, and it definitely is that. It isn’t especially dramatic, no real deep dive emotionally, and as fiction goes, not a lot happens. Two people become a couple. Then they have a child and she is their everything. The child grows and connects and changes and learns and grows and changes more. Her relationship with each parent develops differently as she becomes more and more herself. As she moves into adolescence, her close relationship with her mother dissolves while she grows closer to her father, who becomes aware of how grown up she is becoming, and he knows that he is not the only man who is noticing. So, he pays attention. He notices when someone undesirable seems to be paying too much attention to her movements, and knowing things about how men can be, he worries for her safety. He watches and protects, while Heather unknowingly flirts with danger. Good Dad. Typical teenage daughter. So, like I said, not much happens. Or, at least, I can see how other people would see it that way. Just a different version of a story so many of us have already lived, right? But to me, that’s what’s interesting. It’s a reflection on the repetiveness and ordinariness of life, how we change as people, as a couple, as a parent, as a child, as a family; how what we think we know and understand about each other can be true but temporary or an image constructed for us by those we love; how we can’t force our children to be what we want them to be. It’s a reminder of how none of us has all the information in any given situation, how our perception of a situation or person is influenced by our experiences (or lack thereof), that people can and do change. So yeah, it’s a character study and not much happens. But then again, everything happens. When I started this book, I didn’t have any real expectations. At the end of it, I had to think on it awhile to determine what, if anything, I took away from it. Because it wasn’t entertaining, there were no thrills, no tears. But since I didn’t hate it (I quite liked it!), there had to be a reason. I’ve done my best to tease out those reasons here. It was thoughtful and succinct and worth a read. And that’s all I have to say about that. ;) Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.
SheTreadsSoftly More than 1 year ago
Heather, the Totality by Matthew Weiner is a short so-so debut novel. Mark and Karen Breakstone live a very comfortable life in Manhattan and have an adored daughter, Heather. Heather is beautiful, intelligent and empathetic. After Heather is born, Karen devotes all her time and attention to her, leaving Mark out. Mark resents Karen's over-protectiveness and feels he has to compete in order to spend a small amount of time with Heather. Tensions between Mark and Karen escalate. Heather grows up and is aware of their strained relationship. In stark contrast to the lives of the Breakstones, Bobby Klasky grew up in an unstable home, living in poverty with a drug addicted mother and her series of boyfriends. He grows up with a cruel, violent streak, and exhibits the traits of a psychopath. After he spends some time in prison, Bobby joins the work crew that is remodeling the penthouse in the Breakstone's building. He notices Heather and becomes obsessed with her. Heather, the Totality has some underlying potential that make me believe it could have been a much better novel if Weiner had chosen to broaden his plot development and flesh-out his characters. The truncated length, almost a novella, and attenuated plot made it a fast read, but not particularly a compelling one. The narrative is written in third person with no dialogue, which doesn't help. While reading I found little reason to care about these people. This is not a psychological thriller or even a dark look at the class divide. Yes, there are people from two different socioeconomic levels depicted, but, uh, one is a psychopath. Class differences do not definitively correlate to a destructive personality disorder that could be found in people from any background. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Little, Brown, and Company via Netgalley.