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Now & Then Paperback – February 1, 2000

45 customer reviews

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Paperback, February 1, 2000
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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The novel of remembrance--most often of love lost--is one of the most common of pre-Stonewall gay male literary themes. While it was enthusiastically replaced by the ever-popular theme of "come out and have sex," it has not completely passed into oblivion. William Corlett's enchanting and elucidating Now and Then has a decidedly pre-Stonewall feel to it, a tone of melancholia and nostalgia both surprising and comforting. Christopher Metcalf is a book editor at midlife who, upon returning home for his father's funeral, is faced with the painful memory of a love he lost at the age of 15 when he was betrayed by an older schoolmate whom he adored. Christopher's memories and his slow recognition of how he has squandered his emotional life over the years are moving, even startling. Corlett's language has a touch of classical elegance to it, yet resonates with contemporary idiom and briskness. The most astonishing aspect of Now and Then, however, is its refusal to become sentimental or present tough emotions in an easy or baleful manner. In this, it transforms a pre-Stonewall theme into a decidedly post-Stonewall novel. --Michael Bronski

Review

Beautifully written and very moving. MIDWEEK Captures with sublime ease the tense bickering of a middle-class suburban family...Corlett describes their frenzied quandary beautifully. Independent on Sunday --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Alyson Books (February 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555834248
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555834241
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #957,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
From the onset of his story, William Cortlett brings us into the heart of his main character, Christopher Metcalfe. While summoned home upon the death of his father, the rather detached Chris returns home to deal with lost innocence and the disallusionment of a wasted life. Finding among his fathers belongings a box containing memorabilia from Chris' own days at boarding school. This prompts a moving detail of Chris' romance with an older boy at school. The author brings us the intensity of adolescent love and sexual desire, with all the abandon given to it at that age. Never once do we doubt Chris' reasons for his love, his desire is felt by the reader, as is his confusion as to it's demise. While the focus being Chris' romance with Stephen at school, the chapters of Chris' life at present brings much to the reader as well. His mother's sense of loss is not nearly as profound as one might have expected, and her life parallel's her sons in many ways. These two characters both must deal with lives wasted on denial of one's true being, following safe roads, forsaking the heart by taking the safer and more constant way through life, only to have regrets later on. There are other characters in the Now part of the story who also show us what a treacherous road are hearts can lead us to. There is also much to be said of Stephen, Chris' object of desire while in school. Stephen, for all his classic British Upper Middle classman ship, has chosen to follow his libido through life, beleiving in his own pleasure first, a direct dichotomy to Chris and his Mother. I was left with a feeling of exhilaration after reading this book. I wanted to seize the moments of my life and live each day fully and honestly, wanting no regrets at the days end. I wish to follow the intuitive heart, the sensual path, and beleive I need not worry what sort of impression I'm giving others, but what a life fully recognized has to offer.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By YottieGuy on December 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read this book in a day, I was so absorbed and horrified with the similarities between the narrators life and my own. I was brought up in Sevenoaks and went to a minor public school 50 miles away (never got molested once - and I demand my money back!). He absolutely captures the English middle-class attitudes and denial of emotions as well as the horrific nature (for many) of English public-school life. The alternate past and present format for each chapter works extremely well. His description of the thoughts and emotions of the young Chris, and suppressed emotions of the older version are heart-wrenchingly accurate.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 15, 1998
Format: Paperback
As a reader who speaks English as a second language, I had to keep my dictionary while reading the book to the end. From the first day I started to read the book, I couldn't stop thinking of Kit's life and his love towards Stephen. His deep, poignant and still moving love made me shiver all the time. I even felt the turbulance of his inner state while he first started to think of Stephen when he sorted out things which his father had kept in his study and encountered his past looking at the photos of his schooldays. I sometimes think that it may be my future when I get fortysomething. Even though I was not in passionate love which Chris was in. I read the book six times in order to understand completely by looking up all the difficult words in the dictionary. I cried and shared all the sadness with Chris. Hope Chris will find his true happiness and let his poinant memories behind. This novel was simply magnificient, beautifully written and moving.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bernard on January 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
Cortlett writes with confidence on a difficult subject : an adult's reflection on young love lost in a gay context. The novel is filled with themes like the thrills and disappointment of first love, the affair that was doomed from the start, the aging homosexual who has harboured the pain for 30 years, a closeted and insular life, social manners of the middle class British family, etc. All these are handled with care and aplomb by Cortlett without suggesting any foolproof answers. Some passages in the "Then" sections come across as amateurish and naive but are believeable if taken as expressions and thoughts of a immature 15 year-old schoolboy. Cortlett is more successful in the "Now" chapters, displaying a very sensitive touch in the relationship between the family members and playing off the tensions extremely well. It's a heartbreaking tale of love lost and a lifetime of sacrifices and compromises, ending with a question: is it too late? Highly recommended to all readers.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. on July 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
...Wow! What a wonderful story. The book is slow to start, and it has an unusual gimmick. The story is a narrative told by Chris (Kit) Metcalfe from two of his points of view. The first is NOW, as he is a gay man approaching middle age, and THEN, remembering his days at a Brittish prep school and his first love, Stephen Walker.
Let me say this, while at first I hated the narrator, I grew to love and understand him. This is a story of a broken heart and the damage first love, here gay, wrecks on the heart and the mind. Stephen uses Chris, and isn't until 30 years later that Chris learns the truth of the relationship, and see the other man who may be his true love.
There are many twists that will make you stand up and cheer. This is about a journey that many gay men are on, and how we often hide our feelings from ourselves, even though they may be obvious to those closest to us.
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