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A Single Man Paperback – April 1, 2001

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 186 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press; Reprint edition (April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816638624
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816638628
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,510 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Isherwood's resurrected classic—now a feature film—takes us to Southern California in the 1960s and into one day in the life of George, a gay, middle-aged English professor, struggling to cope with his young lover's tragic death. Simon Prebble's voice is a perfect conduit for Isherwood's lyricism, and he assumes the role of George so naturally and with such raw feeling that listeners will feel as if they are hearing the words straight from the protagonist himself, so beautifully does Prebble create George's reserve behind which surge tides of grief, rage, and bitter loneliness. A University of Minnesota paperback. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.


“An absolutely devastating, unnerving, brilliant book.” —Stephen Spender


“Isherwood’s A Single Man, published in 1964, is one of the first and best novels of the modern gay liberation movement.” — Edmund White


“A testimony to Isherwood’s undiminished brilliance as a novelist.” — Anthony Burgess

  --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

More About the Author

Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986) was one of the most prominent writers of his generation. He is the author of many works of fiction, including All the Conspirators, The Memorial, Mr. Norris Changes Trains, and Goodbye to Berlin, on which the musical Cabaret was based, as well as works of nonfiction and biography.

Customer Reviews

Every written word is brilliant and beautiful, however.
Some readers see this book as "depressing" and a "downer" I see it as a all-too-ultra-real tale of a modern day gay male.
Michael S. Waren
Mr. Isherwood is genius when it comes to his style of writing.
T. J. VanEtten

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

113 of 117 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Schmitz on April 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
First of all: Good concept. A day in the life. Isherwood's stream of consciousness is more readable than James Joyce's, whom I love for a different set of reasons. Second of all: A believable blend of the mundane and the transcendent. We catch the lead character George eating poached eggs for breakfast and masturbating in order to sleep at night. Before our eyes, he farts, fantasizes, converses with friends and co-workers, and generally just goes through his work day as an English professor at a state college in Los Angeles and his evening as a man seeking company.
If he's seeking company with special ardor, it's because he's lost his male companion, Jim, to an auto accident, something the dreary late autumn approach to Christmas makes even harder to bear. The ghost of Jim flits in and out of so many of the novel's passages. George makes connections throughout his day, but we see one by one how they fall short of the intimacy he shared with Jim. His best friend Charlotte "Charley" and he have the kind of witty, boozy conversation longtime pals might have, but Charley's efforts to turn things romantic crash into George's homosexuality. George has friends on his school's faculty who kibbitz with him over lunch about their shared left-leaning politics, but these are hardly deep bonds. Also, George has a sickening feeling that, despite his oratorial brilliance as a teacher, he's not really reaching his students.
George visits a dying woman, also involved in the Ohio car crash that killed Jim. Once upon a time, Doris was a rival for Jim's affection. George's ambivalent reaction to her sad condition, somewhere between grieving and vanquishing a foe, testifies to the unflinching honesty of this portrait.
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful By H. F. Corbin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
This was my fourth reading of this brilliantly perfect novel. I am deeply moved each time I reach this book; I cannot imagine how it would have affected me had I read it in 1964 when it was first published. This novel covers one day in the life of George, an English professor at a nondiscript college in California. The time is just before the Christmas season, that time in America dreaded by many of us who live alone. His lover Jim has recently died in a traffic accident. George is an outsider on many levels. He is British living in America, he is gay living in a heterosexual world, he is brillliant among mostly dull, uninteresting and uninterested college students, he is a man of good taste surrounded by tasteless neighbors.
Isherwood makes brillilant observations about people: that straight women friends often refuse to give up on making their gay male friends. "Do women ever stop trying? No. But, because they never stop, they learn to be good losers." And George says what I have been saying for years, that all too often minorities hate all other minorites. Another observation is that middle-aged gay men look better than their straight counterparts: "What's wrong with them [straight men] is their fatalistic acceptance of middle age, their ignoble resignation to grandfatherhood, impending retirement and golf. George is different from them because. . . he hasn't given up." Finally, Isherwood describes poignantly the unawareness of friends: "How many times, when Jim and I had been quarreling and came to visit you--sullking, avoiding each other's eyes, talking to each other only through you [haven't we all been in that awkward position]-- did you somehow bring us together again by the sheer power of your unawareness that anything was wrong?
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
"A Single Man" is one of the dozen or so genuine masterworks to appear in English since World War II. A quiet, unassuming story about a quiet, unassuming man (who bears a strong resemblance to the book's author), its painful and profound emotional undercurrents may escape the careless reader. This is writing so precise and clear that the characters -- George, Kenny, Charlotte -- come to exist in your mind almost as vividly as people in your own life. The book is partly modelled on "Ulysses," and so will be of extraordinary interest to students of Joyce, but I hasten to add that the novel is brief and easy-to-read. Indeed, I have read "A Single Man" countless times and will read it countless times more. Isherwood will always be best known for his "Berlin Stories" (and that largely because the musical and movie "Cabaret" was based on one of them), but this unforgettable short novel is his masterpiece.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By gac1003 on October 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
This short novel follows one day in the life of George, a 58-year-old English professor at San Tomas State College in Los Angeles, CA. From the moment he wakes up and shuffles to the bathroom, we are immediately thrust into his perception of life both as a gay man in the 1960s, and without his partner Jim who died in a car accident. His views are based upon both of these events, sometimes viewing the world as a big, happy joke, and other times as a very hostile place.
It's a great character study into something I think we don't read about too often: the life of a gay man in his fifties. Too often, gay books deal with men in their twenties and thirties, and if someone older than that appears, he's a caricature or stereotype of the dirty old man. George is very human and is presented in a very realistic manner.
Beautifully written. Definitely worth reading.
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