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Becoming a Londoner: A Diary Hardcover – September 24, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (September 24, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1620401886
  • ISBN-13: 978-1620401880
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #408,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Novelist and memoirist Plante (The Pure Lover, 2009) was a 26-year-old American new to London when he fell in mutual love-at-first-sight with Greek expat Nikos Stangos. When Stangos told his older English lover about aspiring writer Plante, poet Stephen Spender graciously befriended Plante and introduced him to the likes of painter Francis Bacon and writer Christopher Isherwood. When Stangos, Plante’s partner until Stangos’ death in 2004, became the arts editor for Penguin Books, the couple found themselves at the center of London’s literary and art worlds. In this lapidary yet flowing volume, which runs from 1966 to 1986 and is charged with keen attentiveness and dazed astonishment, Plante meticulously records a perpetual carousel of luncheons, dinners, parties, and vacations punctuated by encounters with Bloomsbury artists Duncan Grant and Ben Nicholson, David Hockney, Edna O’Brien, Bruce Chatwin, and many others. Writing with supple exactitude, Plante sidesteps the diarist’s usual habit of obsessive self-analysis to create a living history of this artistically dynamic time and place. And to think, this is just one small part of Plante’s immense, half-century-spanning diary. More, please. --Donna Seaman

Review

“Entries take on the languid feel of the floating world…A seamlessly charming narrative both evocative and sensual.” —Publishers Weekly
 
“Love and life among literary lions . . . .[Plante is] a crafter of limpid prose, possessed of keen insight and sympathy. He also displays a rare gift for finely wrought characterization. . . . A richly detailed document of the London art scene of the ’60s and an affecting memoir of the artist as a young man.”—Kirkus Reviews
 
“In this lapidary yet flowing volume, which runs from 1966 to 1986 and is charged with keen attentiveness and dazed astonishment, Plante meticulously records a perpetual carousel of luncheons, dinners, parties, and vacations punctuated by encounters with Bloomsbury artists Duncan Grant and Ben Nicholson, David Hockney, Edna O’Brien, Bruce Chatwin, and many others. Writing with supple exactitude, Plante sidesteps the diarist’s usual habit of obsessive selfanalysis to create a living history of this artistically dynamic time and place. And to think, this is just one small part of Plante’s immense, half-century-spanning diary. More, please.” —Donna Seaman, Booklist
 
“Always elegant, Plante’s prose winds around and meanders…An engrossing look into the veteran writer’s younger existence… He makes the perfect narrator to decades in flux, blithely commenting about drinking cider in one entry, and mentioning friends of friends were arrested for their homosexual behavior in the next…Becoming a Londoner isn’t about transitions, it is about an evolution—from one thing to another, where there is no such thing as going back to older times, but rather starting currents and moving forward.” —Daily News

“In the hands of a true writer, a diary can be a miraculous thing… lyrical intelligence is ever on display… The London loved by any artist will inevitably be a fairytale for other, more jaundiced eyes. That is, after all, the magic of London—and the magic of Becoming a Londoner as well.”—New York Journal of Books


More About the Author

David Plante is the author of more than a dozen novels, including the Francoeur trilogy--The Family, The Woods, and The Country--as well as a work of nonfiction, Difficult Women: A Memoir of Three. His work has appeared in many periodicals, The New Yorker and The Paris Review among them, and has been nominated for a National Book Award. He teaches writing at Columbia University and lives in New York and London.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Heaven's Hound on October 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Review of David Plante's Becoming a Londoner, A Diary
By Robert Waldron
With the publication of Becoming a Londoner, A Diary (Bloomsbury, 532 pages), critically acclaimed novelist David Plante joins the pantheon of gifted modern diarists, one that includes Virginia Woolfe, Julian Green, Andre Gide, and James Lees-Milne, with a diary chronicling candidly and eloquently his first fifteen years of living in London, from the mid 60s to the early 80s.
Emulating his hero Henry James, Plante decides to abandon America where as a gay man he is not allowed to be himself in public; he also renounces his Catholic religion, one that dogmatically condemns homosexuality. He had inherited his faith from his Franco-Catholic family that had left Canada to settle in Rhode Island. Thus raised as a devout Catholic, he, of course, chose to attend Boston College where he was educated by Jesuits.
London, particularly in the 1960s and the 1970s was a cultural center whose influence spread throughout the world. The city allowed the young Plante to spread his wings. A fortunate man, he met the love of his life almost upon arrival, a beautiful young man two years older than Plante (then twenty-six) named Nikos Stangos. They both instantly fell in love with each other. The only problem was that Nikos was the lover of poet Stephen Spender, who was wisely understanding and generous when informed that Nikos had a new lover. Spender became very fond of Plante, and many years after their first meeting he said that he had come to view both Plante and Stangos as his sons, a comment that very much pleased Plante.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chris Bram on November 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Working with his diaries from the 1960s to the 1980s, David Plante tells two different stories here: the first is about his life with his Greek lover Nikos; the second follows their adventures in artistic and intellectual London. The book is full of fine, lively portraits: Stephen Spender, his wife Natasha, Francis Bacon, David Hockney, the historian Steven Runciman, and others. (The portrait of Spender hiding his gay friendships from his wife is first sad, then comic.) Excellent photos and paintings finish the stories told by the prose. This is a charming, engaging, memorable book, half culture history, half domestic love story. It is one of the best portraits of a happy gay marriage I've ever read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ernest O. Ellison on November 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Beautifully written account of the life of the Bloomsbury set. I have read many diaries, and this is a 10
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Anyone interested in the artistic and intellectual life of post-WWII London will love this gossipy yet insightful memoir of the lives of two young gay writers. It held my interest from beginning to end.
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