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The Great Man Paperback – May 13, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

The Great Man is as unexpectedly generous as it is entertaining. . . . Wise and expansive. . . . Christensen is a witty observer of the art universe.” —The New York Times “Christensen's writing is clear-eyed, muscular, bitingly funny, and supremely caustic about the niceties of social relations, contemporary American culture, and sexual politics.” —O, The Oprah Magazine “These characters are wonderfully developed and break the stereotype of the aging female protagonist. Christensen . . . boldly has raised the bar.” —USA Today "Nimble, witty and discerning, Kate Christensen is single-handedly reinvigorating the comedy of manners with her smart and disemboweling novels of misanthropes, cultural and aesthetic divides, private angst, social ambition and appetites run amok." —Chicago Tribune

About the Author

Kate Christensen is also the author of the novels In the Drink, Jeremy Thrane, and The Epicure's Lament. Her essays and articles have appeared in various publications including Salon, Mademoiselle, The Hartford Courant, Elle, and the best-selling anthology The Bitch in the House. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (May 13, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307277348
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307277343
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #974,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. K. Johnson VINE VOICE on October 4, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The style of this novel is very unique and hooks you from the start. I couldn't put it down. The four women who loved this (not-so) great man are so sensitively crafted by the author that you both, at once, admire them and question their devotion to such a hollow person as Oscar. The book also asks some important questions, such as what constitutes "great" art, who gets to decide, what role do women play in the art world, and how are we, as viewers, implicated in the social construction of the artistic genius.

Additionally, the inclusion of the two men writing separate biographies of the great man add tremendously to the story. The obituary and the two reviews at the end act as book ends to the story and add to its unique style. Bravo Ms. Christenson.
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Format: Paperback
Great idea for a book. The famous painter dies and his close lovers, admirers and daughters come in together due to the fact that at least two biographers are on the prowl. All this results in digging out well buried emotions and past deeds to light of the day. That is the basic plot, but what sets this novel apart is very direct and concise use of English. The author appears almost transparent, as she does not add un-plausible elements to enhance the prose. Personages in the book, mostly woman, seem to come to life, not in details of environment, but in their psychological exposure by the author. None appear flat and unremarkable, or one sided on good vs. bad scale and yet very different. One notable achievement of the book is how well mental states of participants of social interactions are shown. We are given a glimpse of how woman pick up non verbal cues and judge their partners. This is all done without any hint of author trying to be cute, which would have reduced it to a typical chick lit.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book a couple of years ago and could not get into it at first but on a recent trip, I couldn't put it down. I'm so glad I gave it a second chance.

When two biographers set out to capture the essence of Oscar Feldman, the theme of this book is immediately apparent; the impossibility of truly capturing the essence of a life. Often the finished work reveals more about the observer than the subject. Oscar and his art are chosen and Christensen does not shy away from exploring reasons and processes that determine how one artist's work becomes elevated over another.

This is an unlikely tale that explores who loves what, why and how. Oscar, the celebrated painter and ostensible center of the universe turns out to be far less fascinating than the many women who adore him. The women are complex, intriguing and old, which is interesting in itself. Some even have the temerity to actually enjoy sex, something I find refreshing, although at least one reviewer disagrees, reflecting society's distaste for the aging - especially women.

Christensen's sense of fun shows in her stylish prose, as does her obvious familiarity with the art scene. Her love of food and detailed settings provide the perfect backdrop for this many charactered, and complex tale. Somehow she manages to keep all these balls in the air, yet I never had to go back to situate myself. I'm looking forward to reading more of her work.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It was an ok read, not a great read but not an absolute waste of time either. It was primarily a character study and some of the characters were interesting. I enjoyed that it was written about and from the perspective of older women. Women who at the ends of their lives finally laid claim to their lives. It was fairly well written but every once in a while something discordant would be thrown in, leaving one with a kind of '...??er... what was that?' feeling. It was a decent book club book as it provided good fodder for discussion but not a stand out classic by any means.
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Format: Paperback
The Great Man is a great book with great characters and a great flow of dialogue, drama, and spicy romance--all guaranteed to give great pleasure to the reader! I was reluctant to complete this great short novel because I knew if the story ended I would no longer be able to share in the bittersweet adventures of several great women whose lives I had become intimately involved in. I just wanted to read more and more.

In The Great Man the great Ms. Christensen creates characters who remind us of elderly women and men we have known in real life who have endeared themselves to us in spite of their idiosyncrasies, or perhaps because of them! Ms. Christensen`s characters come alive through a seamless sequence of encounters with each other, as well as intriguing minor characters, all of whom, for one reason or another, are forced to focus on "The Great Man" five years after he has died. Each has his or her own view on the amount of greatness this man possessed while alive.

I was reading this book as I was touring alone in Canada, looking forward to communing with the characters each evening before going to sleep. After finishing the book I began to feel suddenly lonely in my travels, and I finally realized it was because my extraordinary companions were no longer part of my trip! They were now packed away in my luggage, only cherished memories, along with those from Quebec City and Montreal.
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