Trust Exercise MOBI ß Hardcover


  • Hardcover
  • 257 pages
  • Trust Exercise
  • Susan Choi
  • English
  • 03 August 2016
  • 9781250309884

10 thoughts on “Trust Exercise

  1. says:

    ME to SUSAN CHOI “I did not enjoy this book”Susan “You did not enjoy this book”“I did not enjoy this book”“You did not enjoy this book”“I did not enjoy this book”“ You did not enjoy this book”“I did not enjoy this book”“You did not enjoy this book”You’ll get it after reading the Trust Exercise or maybe you won’t Which is exactly where I am after reading this book WHAT HAPPENED? I really need someone to tell me because I do not understand it I didn’t understand who was who who was telling the truth and what it meant to the whole story But maybe I’m not meant to understand it While Trust Exercise is written well I could care less about the characters And with the way it ended I did not enjoy this bookBUT I do think we’ll have an AMAZING book club discussion about it


  2. says:

    Trust Exercise is a novel about a performing arts high school in a sprawling southern city that for some reason is never named it's Houston The first half of it is told from the point of view of Sarah one of the students who goes through the usual issues with friends and boyfriends and parents although everything is ratcheted up to 11 here I guess to emphasize that performing arts schools can be a tad dramatic? Self important? Certainly the writing in the first half of the book would support this idea Sure everything feels like a big deal in high school but does it really feel like THIS BIG of a deal? Everything is overwrought Everything is overwritten Everything is like a tiny terrarium into which way too many lizards have been crammed The sides of the terrarium are steaming up Everyone is flushing pink and sweating literally; I got a little tired of learning how everyone smelled Who keeps reaching into the terrarium and poking the lizards? Why the illustrious drama teacher Mr Kingsley a man with such an inflated sense of the significance of himself and his theatre never theater god forbid department that he was only bearable if every time he appeared I imagined Jon Lovitz's voice in my head intoningHELLO I AM LLEWELLYN SINCLAIR Here’s Mr Kingsley’s oversize ego on display Here’s Mr Kingsley getting inappropriately involved in his students’ personal lives Honestly everything about this section annoyed me from the creepy adults to the creepy students to the eyerolling intensity HELLO I AM LLEWELLYN SINCLAIR of everything they did Houston was portrayed as a bunch of parking lots connected by multilane boulevards and highways which was probably accurate but horrible to have to spend time in Everything was yucky and gross and impossible to care about I wanted to give up so much but kept going because 1 I have liked Susan Choi’s work in the past so I was giving her the benefit of the doubt; and 2 I’d heard there was some kind of “twist” halfway through and I was curious about what it was I thought there was a chance the book could still be redeemed Then the “twist” happened Without really giving anything away the twist is that the second half of the book is told from the point of view of a character who is peripheral to the first half of the novel Peripheral Character is here to let you know that not everything Sarah told you is true Peripheral Character is also extremely boring and prone to parsing words listing their synonyms and how they can circle back around to words that don’t mean uite the same thing as the words they are supposed to be synonymous with The point of this seems to be that NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS The New Yorker review makes much of all this intoning that the first half “of the story serves one of its characters ie Sarah than the others” But isn’t this how it always is in fiction? The author chooses which characters to use to tell the story The other characters are there but don’t really get a say in what’s going on This is literally what happens in every piece of fiction Why is it uniue here? Is it because Choi switches to the point of view of a character who was peripheral in the first half? For me it just heightened the level of “Who cares?” about the whole thing Who cares about Peripheral Character? Who cares if Peripheral Character says not everything happened the way Sarah told it? Who cares what Peripheral Character’s experiences were? Peripheral Character sometimes switches back and forth between first and third person to remind us that she too is adding her own gloss on things but who cares?“Isn’t it all fiction anyway?” I kept asking myself This is the first time I can remember ever asking that about a novel I was reading Usually these issues of character reliability of point of view of plot matter to me I would ordinarily never say “Who cares? Isn’t it all fiction anyway?” The fact that I did it multiple times with Trust Exercise can mean only one thing This novel didn’t work for me at all And those endings An initial ending that was simultaneously preposterous and utterly predictable followed by another “twist” with an even higher “Who cares?” factor than the previous one that didn’t tell me anything I hadn’t already figured out long ago Trust Exercise made me think a lot about experimental fiction If you asked me I would say that I love experimental fiction I love having the rug pulled out from under me I love having to think about who to believe I love having to turn the whole thing over in my head and figure out how it works But Trust Exercise really brought home the idea that if your novel doesn’t have a solid foundation—credible characters good writing a plot that really works—an “experiment” turns into nothing than a cheap trick And that’s what we have hereAs I mentioned I’ve liked Susan Choi’s writing in the past I also once met her at a reading and she seemed like a great person For these reasons I almost gave this book 2 stars But the fact is for any other writer this would have been an obvious 1 star The fact that I know Susan Choi knows what she’s doing actually makes things worse not better She obviously thought what she was giving us in Trust Exercise was good enough For me it was not good enough This book was the worst kind of trust exercise I had faith that Susan Choi would catch me and instead she just let me hit the floor The headache I got is nothing compared to the disappointment I feel


  3. says:

    Wow this one didn't work for me at all Given how much I read I guess it's surprising that it doesn't happen oftenSusan Choi's newest book Trust Exercise is a marvel of language and imagery but on the whole I found it confusing a bit meandering and once Choi flipped the script on the plot I wondered whether what I was reading was actually happening or if it was a figment of the characters' imaginationThe book took place in the early 1980s at the Citywide Academy for the Performing Arts The first year students are ready to being learning Stagecraft Shakespeare the Sight Reading of Music and of course acting where their charismatic teacher Mr Kingsley puts them through a variety of trust exercises challenging their sensory perceptions and awakening their emotionsTwo students Sarah and David fall for each other and begin a passionate yet mercurial relationship in full view of their fellow students But neither of them are ready for the ramifications of a relationship and they're not prepared for the manipulations of their peers—or Mr Kingsley for that matter In an effort to drown out the pressures of everyday life Sarah makes a decision which has major ramifications ramifications that ripple long into the futureAnd then Choi speeds up the timeline and sets the book in the future and the whole narrative goes hazy so you're not sure if what you read actually happened or if Choi simply wants you to uestion the storyline But that's not her only gimmick as she throws yet another twist into the plot that once again left me shaking my headSusan Choi has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and certainly there's no doubt about her writing ability But unfortunately Trust Exercise never worked for me I have seen some really positive reviews however so it may work for someone elseNetGalley and Henry Holt Company provided me a copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review Thanks for making this available See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoriablogspotcom or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at


  4. says:

    One lurks in every high school a charismatic teacher who cultivates a cliue of acolytes Miss Jean Brodie aside this teacher is typically a man in his prime parceling out the precious gift of his intimacy to a select group No matter how many years have passed you can probably still recall his name at your own school the droll iconoclast who always seemed at odds with the administration the cool teacher who made thrillingly inappropriate asides Amid rumors of some past glory he radiated an air of long suffering superiority as though his willingness to teach mere high school students were another example of his largesseIn fact as you realize later he could thrive nowhere else but in that moist terrarium of adolescent desire He was a vampire thirsty for the fervor of teenage boys and girlsThat immortal figure rises up at the center of Susan Choi’s “Trust Exercise” the latest of her startling novels about academic life Mr Kingsley is a theater teacher at Citywide Academy for the Performing Arts an elite institution “intended to cream off the most talented” students and prepare them for “their exceptional lives” Mr Kingsley is exotic by the standards of this unnamed Southern town in the early 1980s He once lived in New York He refers to Broadway star Joel Grey as Joel He owns a “bizarre human size doll that was supposed to be called a ‘soft sculpture’” To the theater students desperate for his attention “Mr Kingsley was impossibly witty and sometimes impossibly cutting; the prospect of talking with him was terrifying and galvanizing; one longed to live up to his brilliance and eually feared that it couldn’t be done”This is the most precise skewering of a magnetic teacher since Muriel Spark’s 1961 classic Choi’s voice blends an adolescent’s awe with an adult’s irony It’s a letter perfect satire of the special strain of egotism and obsession that can fester in academic settings Choi is particularly attentive to Mr Kingsley’s inane maxims which his adoring students polish into sacred To read the rest of this review go to The Washington Posthttpswwwwashingtonpostcomentert


  5. says:

    Incredibly ambitious structurally with a shape that is organically interesting than ASYMMETRY which it is uite similar to Reminds me a bit of SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS but loses its connection to the fun teen drama that propels the first 100 pages of the novel A very very fun book to talk about and think about I'm just not sure the ambiguity about what is true at the end of the novel is a slight misstep I would have liked this a touch better if toward the end there had been answers I love withholding novels but I'm not uite sure if the math of this structure uite adds up


  6. says:

    Curiosity got the best of meI knew I wasn’t going to buy this bookbut when the library had it available as an ebook on Overdrive I thought I’d check out what all fuss was about I saw 1 star reviews from friends that I’d never seen rate ‘any’ book lower than 3 stars But thenLots of 5 stars followed It didn’t take a rocket scientist to know there was some kind of controversy over this book Well yeah the author is a Pulitzer Prize finalist Made me wonder how bad could the book be? Reactions from readers are strong for it or against it Curiosity was over for me at 8% I fall into the 1 star group too I simply did not care for the writing Pulitzer finalist skills or notJust one of manyexcerpts I found dull and exhausting “This city like vines with no trellis sprawled out thinly and nonsensically its lack or organization it’s sole unifying aspect Gracious neighborhoods of live oak and chunky brick mansions where David lived lay cheek by jowl with wastes of gravel or US Postal Service facilities resembling US Army bases or Coca Cola bottling plants resembling wastewater treatment facilities And chintzy labyrinth apartment complexes of many hundreds of two story brick boxes strewn about scores of algae stained in ground swimming pools such as the complex in which Sarah lived might exhaust themselves at their easternmost edge on the wide boulevard lined with tattered palm trees which on its opposite side washed the gates of the city’s most prestigious club for Jews” My favorite uote by the reviewer Bibliophile was the sound advice given to readers “My suggestion follow your instinct If you don’t like it after the first few several pages stop reading” I took the advice Other readers said they kept reading looking hoping for some redeeming uality They never found any I believe them Page after page were long winded paragraphs that I found completely boring over written and pretentious So between Bibliophile suggestion other low rating reviews and my own experienceI tossed it


  7. says:

    NO SPOILERSUpdate 112219 Trust Exercise has won the National Book Award What were they smoking?Full disclosure Book abandoned on page 61 out of 257 pagesIt's so important to care about characters really care to be invested in what happens in a story I couldn't care less about those in Susan Choi's Trust Exercise In part one the story is about high school freshmen David and Sarah studying drama in the early 1980s as they develop a romantic relationship I couldn’t get a solid grasp of just who these young teens are; they’re just names on a page not characters brought to life I attribute this to Choi's love of narrative summary There's little action and dialogue in Trust Exercise that would have allowed me to draw my own conclusions about David and Sarah and the peripheral characters Instead in large blocks of text Choi told me all about them their history their thoughts and feelings what they think of various other characters everything It's dispassionate storytelling In no time I was bored As for David and Sarah's relationship it begins with a groping where the consent is uestionable but that Choi presented as acceptable From there the relationship is defined mostly by overly detailed sex which left a sour taste in my mouth Yes many teens have sex but there's something repellent about reading every detail of their encounters A fade to black would have worked just fine As someone who loves stories set in academia I looked very forward to reading Trust Exercise but it's firmly set in the world of drama students I haven't studied drama extensively which would be a non factor if Choi hadn't described the classes in a way that only drama students could appreciate For pages she described each aspect of a trust exercise between David and Sarah from the small to the big as if making very clear that she has a background in drama I can only assume There’s supposed to be tension in this scene but owing to superficial characterization and Choi's failure to establish high stakes it's instead tedious David and Sarah aren't compellingThe literati will probably adore Trust Exercise Choi was a Pulitzer Prize nominee for a previous work and Trust Exercise is written in that introspective artistic and sometimes hilariously overwrought style that makes snobby intellectuals feel smart for appreciating As a literature lover who wants and expects the full package in a story skilled writing organized plotting and full bodied characters I contend that Trust Exercise is simply bad The literati can have it; all other readers should look elsewhereNOTE I received this as an Advance Reader Copy from LibraryThing in January 2019


  8. says:

    This is a book that has some structural tricks up its sleeve similar to books like FATES FURIES and ASYMMETRY So you need to proceed with caution when reading anything about it Just saying it plays with structure feels like a bit of a spoiler but in this case like both the books I mentioned before I think it's good to know because some may find the first section of the book grating enough to uit not knowing what they are losing by bailing early Like the other two books I'd recommend you get at least halfway through before you decide to jump ship Now that I've said all that I have the tricky job of trying to tell you all the ways this book thrilled me without being able to actually tell you about the book TRUST EXERCISE feels like it's in conversation with Choi's last novel MY EDUCATION It feels like there are ideas around the power dynamics between men and women between teachers and students that she is not done working out It feels like the right time to do that the book is timely in a way that makes me worry about seeing too many reviews with hashtag metoo attached to it but it really does feel like it's of this particular moment It is about the narratives women give themselves about the relationships and encounters with men that can leave them with scars of all sizes It's about the intensity of being a teenager the depth of feeling and experience that happens without a full understanding of what it means and who you are There is some particular joy in this book for theater kids who will recognize the tight knit community theater kids form that includes its own dramas and jealousies It is also a book about the way writers process and change the world and does so in a way that feels fresh and not just another writer writing about writers retread I noted in my review of MY EDUCATION how very sharp and amazing Choi's prose and observations are and I noticed it once again here Sometimes she has a sentence that makes you gasp from the truth and perfection of it The style of the prose overall can be a bit confounding It's purposeful this is a book that makes the reader work a book that is always aware of just how much it knows that you don't It can take a little time to get your head straight sometimes and an entire section switches pronouns just to remind you of its little trick in a way that some may find infuriating but that I adored I have a feeling there is a decent number of people who will find the entire book infuriating but I will continue to passionately love and defend it I love this exact kind of difficult bookI am seriously considering re reading this entire book After finishing I immediately reread the final section which was 100% the right decision Even better I am considering re reading MY EDUCATION and then re reading this book I have a tendency to race when I enjoy a book I can't let myself slow down and feel it and this time I would like to savor every biteUpdate I reread MY EDUCATION and then reread TRUST EXERCISE and it was fantastic highly recommended TRUST EXERCISE is a book that can leave you feeling like the floor has been pulled out from under you and not all readers like that This kind of structure can also mean the book doesn't hold up upon subseuent readings But this one absolutely does In fact I had even joy the second time through knowing what the pieces were and seeing how Choi brings them together And seeing the ways in which she leaves uestions still open I am fascinated by the ways in which we process the same experiences differently and this book dives into that so hard I just loved it I loved how the narrative tricks of the book aren't just there to trick you they're there to tell you something specific about who these people are and why they are telling this specific story I particularly love the shifting voice and acerbic tone of the second section it was so incredibly gratifying


  9. says:

    Now Winner of the National Book Award 2019 This experimental novel discusses consent by shifting timelines and perspectives thus forcing the reader to uestion and re adjust which characters to trust and it's no spoiler to state that in the end no one will turn out to be who you thought they'd be Choi starts with a high school drama that then turns into a meta fictional revenge tale only to end in an even disturbing coda and I just love how she defies expectations and disrupts narrative conventions There's a certain brutality in the ever shifting reading experience and the novel also reuires some detective work in oder to find out what is actually going on so there's all the stuff I enjoy in experimental fiction In the first part of the book there are no chapters or other indicators you have to unlock the story which takes place in the early 80s we meet Sarah and David who are students at a renowned arts high school in an unnamed big city in the southern part of the United States In an environment full of aspiring artists who dream of taking the big stage dynamics of power and dependency unfold The enigmatic theater teacher uses his position to manipulate students and he submits them under so called trust exercises where they have to look at each other repeat each other's sentences or openly reveal all kinds of hidden thoughts When David and Sarah fall in love their relationship uickly turns sour and Sarah ends up having an affair with a much older theater teacher who visits the school with his own students from England I will certainly NOT tell you what happens next because it would ruin the reading experience for you but let me say that after reading the whole novel you will give a very different account regarding what happens in the book than I just did Choi negotiates power in sexual relationships responsibility victimhood and awareness and she does it in a very clever challenging way Other reviewers compared this book to Asymmetry and there is some truth to that but Choi uses her narrative shifts to constantly re write part one thus illustrating the effects of framing scope perspective and also empathy Here the asymmetry is brought about by the point of view and above all the judgement passed by different characters I applaud Susan Choi for this daring feat of a book it's engaging surprising and intelligent I hope she'll get nominated for some awards because this novel deserves attention


  10. says:

    Once you're old enough to recognize a hole in yourself it's too late for the hole to be filled p 185I found this disturbing and lacking of a plot and full of contradictionsI should have been able to relate to this being from a big town in the South the nameless location ressembles the flat urban sprawl of Miami and being a teen in the 1982 but about 3 years younger than the protagonists Maybe I have an exceptionally puritanical background but I don’t recall all the girls around me at 14 or 15 having had sex with many partners including many older men I am not saying that I didn’t know any but they were exceptional and the stories I only heard decades later Of course I wasn’t in theatre so maybe the promiscuousness was endemic to that crowd? Maybe some other CGHS or SMHS alumni will chime inTrust Exercise is the intense acting workshop by “Mr Kingsley” at which the lives of the protagonists Sarah Karen and David intersect and to which a visiting English class injects a certain amount of chaos and debauchery The kids are all 1415 and have all had sex with each other it seems encouraged by their gay teacher who abuses one of them the one hispanic Manuel This act is hardly condemned in the book a point which disturbed me That and if my assumption is correct about this being in Miami the anachronism of only having one latin kid because after the Boatlift in 1979 Miami and all of Southern Florida was already swarming with Cuban students In terms of plot there is not much consistency as we read Sarah’s account of her junior year although most kids were 1516 when I was a junior rather than 1415 in the first chapter which is discounted by Karen’s version in the second chapter which is written 15 years later There is a sort of climax but uite predictable at the end of Chapter 2 and then a short unsatisfying denouement in Chapter 3There is some punishment for the bad guys but it felt like an anti climax The writing is sort of a poor pastiche on DFW’s style with heavy descriptions like in KOK but with far less humor or even humanity The characters felt stiff and hardly self aware sort of worked over cardboard figures Karen’s obsession with language seems almost out of character and I felt like the author was beating me over the head with a dictionary justifying her word choices every other sentence; it was aggravating I hesitated between 2 and 3 stars and went for 3 because there are some interesting passages and insights such as the uote with which I started this review However despite being on some Pulitzer lists I think this book is second or third tier despite the author’s credentials Not sure I will delve further into her writingMy List of 2020 Pulitzer Candidates blog about the 2020 Pulitzer


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Trust Exercise[PDF / EPUB] Trust Exercise Pulitzer Finalist Susan Choi's narrative upending novel about what happens when a first love between high school students is interrupted by the attentions of a charismatic teacherIn an American suburb Pulitzer Finalist Susan Choi's narrative upending novel about what happens when a first love between high school students is interrupted by the attentions of a charismatic teacherIn an American suburb in the early s students at a highly competitive performing arts high school struggle and thrive in a rarified bubble ambitiously pursuing music movement Shakespeare and particularly their acting classes When within this striving “Brotherhood of the Arts” two freshmen David and Sarah fall headlong into love their passion does not go unnoticed—or untoyed with—by anyone especially not by their charismatic acting teacher Mr KingsleyThe outside world of family life and economic status of academic pressure and of their future adult lives fails to penetrate this school’s walls—until it does in a shocking spiral of events that catapults the action forward in time and flips the premise upside down What the reader believes to have happened to David and Sarah and their friends is not entirely true—though it’s not false either It takes until the book’s stunning coda for the final piece of the puzzle to fall into place—revealing truths that will resonate long after the final sentenceAs captivating and tender as it is surprising Trust Exercise will incite heated conversations about fiction and truth friendships and loyalties and will leave readers with wiser understandings of the true capacities of adolescents and of the powers and responsibilities of adults.


About the Author: Susan Choi

Susan Choi was born in South Bend Indiana and was raised there and in Houston Texas She studied literature at Yale and writing at Cornell and worked for several years as a fact checker for The New YorkerHer latest novel Trust Exercise was the winner of the National Book Award for Fiction and was a national bestseller Trust Exercise was also named a best book of by The Washington.