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A Changed Man: A Novel Paperback – February 28, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
What I didn't find so compelling: the ending was pretty contrived, in a way that tried to be too meta- about being contrived. I also was not really clear about Vincent's motivations until pretty far into the book.
On the other hand, let's face it, I've read a lot of "summer reading" crap this year and it's miles better than that stuff. So it's worth a look.
Vincent Nolan is the repentant skinhead, a good-looking (despite the tattoos) young man in his early thirties, fresh from camping on his cousin Ray's couch. Meyer Maslow, the celebrated, aging activist who directs a non-profit aimed at freeing dissidents and righting wrongs all over the world, has been expecting someone like him, all the more reason for Bonnie, his adoring assistant, to marvel at his prescience. Bonnie has channeled her feelings of rejection from the breakup of her marriage into intense belief in the rightness of Maslow's mission.
When Meyer suggests that Vincent stay with her --- after all, he can't go back to his neo-Nazi cousin's couch, can he? --- she agrees with only a shiver of concern for her two young teenaged sons. Vincent talks a good game, and Bonnie wants to trust him, but she's a worrier by nature. She doesn't need the aggravation and feels guilty about it. And by that time, the reader knows that Vincent's duffel contains more in the way of dirty laundry than simply clothes: it also has a hefty supply of Vicodin, and $1,500 of drug money taken from Ray and his buddies.
There are two main sources of tension in this accomplished novel by the prolific Ms. Prose. One comes from wondering whether Vincent really is a changed man, and Vincent, it seems, is as much in suspense as we are.Read more ›
I can't quite put my finger on it but her writing is kind of `in a hurry.' Not stripped and raw like a Hemmingway novel but more jerky and always moving, like you're always running. The technique works well, though, to keep the story moving, and to keep you in the middle of the confusion surrounding the protagonist. And confusion is in the middle of most of the story: confusion about motive, about relationships, and about telling yourself the truth. In the end, like a made for TV movie, the confusion falls away and everyone finds their place in the world. It's a bit formulaic but works. Ironically I don't really think anyone in the book `changed.' Certainly not the protagonist. His foray into the Aryan Nation was mostly a trade for breakfast and a place to sleep. None of the other characters change, either, except that they all seemed to come a bit more to grips with their innate wants.
Still, it's an excellent read that I really enjoyed.
Since reading Ms. Prose's masterful Reading Like a Writer several years ago, I've been on the lookout for one of her novels; A CHANGED MAN fell into my lap unexpectedly, and I bought it based purely on recognition of the author's name. It is the story of a young man who has drifted into a cultural lifestyle (Neo-Nazism) that he has no great ideological attachment to, and has adopted more as a way of gaining room and board than anything else. Intimidated by the retribution his fellow skinheads may visit on him should he leave the fold, he seeks asylum with an international human rights aid organization, headed by a Holocaust survivor. In return for their shelter, he promises that he can help them to "save guys like me from becoming guys like me".
That's Vincent Nolan's pitch, made more in the way of a plea bargain than with any real conviction behind it, though over the course of the novel he comes to see things differently; or at least I think he does. It's difficult to understand exactly how Vincent changes. He is one of those fellows who exist by letting others take care him - just charming, pitiable or vulnerable enough that other people's parental instincts kick in. If Vincent does change, it may be better termed 'growing up'.
A CHANGED MAN isn't a bad novel - it's slightly comic, sometimes slyly so, though it isn't dangerous enough to make any pointed statements. It seems more like a gentle chiding than a pin-sticking. If the theme behind the novel is tolerance toward the 'other', then it basically treads water; there's no risk.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I thought the characters were not what I had expected and a waste of my time.Published 13 months ago by zelma lavin
I would rank this book high in cleverness and good writing. The comedy is commendable, too. The problem I have with it is that some of the main characters are far from... Read morePublished on August 1, 2009 by Mary E. Sibley
So much said already - but in the end: It's a great book (at least in the audio-edition), one that continues to resonate after it's finished (snippets of dialogue or inner... Read morePublished on September 25, 2008 by U. Klehe
"A Changed Man" is the sixth Francine Prose novel I've read, and although I obviously like the author alot (otherwise, why read six of her books? Read morePublished on December 17, 2007 by trainreader
This is the first book of Francine Prose's that I've read; I heard her interviewed on NPR after it was released and decided to read it based on that. Read morePublished on June 19, 2007 by A. Wood
Ms. Prose deserves a wider following. She has a scalpel for an eye and can dissect and lay open suburban and metropolitan pretense in a crisp phrase. Read morePublished on January 25, 2007 by D. C. Carrad
"A Changed Man" is not a book I would have read without a recommendation from my daughter. The plot line just did not sound very promising: a member of a neo-Nazi movement... Read morePublished on June 22, 2006 by algo41
Francine Prose's satire "A Changed Man" addresses the issues of changing for the better, the power of the media, raising kids as a single mother and the necessary need of... Read morePublished on June 13, 2006 by Bohdan Kot