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A Single Man Paperback – April, 2001
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"George wakes and Christopher's celebrated camera eye follows him. What Isherwood has caught with extreme brilliance is the texture of life itself in George's person... Wry, suddenly manic, constantly funny, surprisingly sad, this short novel perfects exactly those techniques which made for Isherwood his early reputation." -- Alan Pryce-Jones, Book Week --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is a tale of grieving and redemption.
This is a day in the life of George, a British English schoolteacher at San Tomas Sate College in Southern California, who is mourning the loss of his life partner, Jim. We see him get out of bed, perform his daily routine, and try to cope with his terrible loss.
Jim died at a car accident in Mexico when he was traveling with his mistress, Doris. Doris survived the accident but she's in a vegetative state. George visits her once a week - mostly because is the only thing left that is purely Jim.
Charlotte is George's best friend. Also a British, Charlotte is mourning her failed marriage with Buddy and an empty nest - as her son, Fred has finally left her to live with his girlfriend.
But redemption comes to George, Kenny Potter, one of his students, follows George to his favorite bar - a dive where he and Jim met. Kenny flirts with George and because they are so drunk, they end up together. Although George knows that this will probably be a one time thing, the redemption comes with the knowledge that George is helping Kenny deal with his homosexuality.
Beautifully told from an universal point of view, the story deals with the loss of a loved one, even one who clearly broke the trust between a couple. George clearly blames Doris for Jim's death, yet one wonders if he had lost Jim irregardless.
Isherwood is clearly aware that gays are being persecuted and presents a clear perspective of the gay man in the 1960's: "A minority has its own kind of aggression. It absolutely dares the majority to attack it. It hates the majority - not without a cause, I grant you. It even hates the other minorities, because all minorities are in competition: each one proclaims that its sufferings are the worst and its wrongs are the blackest. And the more they all hate, and the more they're all persecuted, the nastier they become! Do you think it makes people nasty to be loved? You know it doesn't! Then why should it make them nice to be loathed? While you're being persecuted, you hate what's happening to you, you hate the people who are making it happen; you're in a world of hate. Why, you wouldn't recognize love if you met it! You'd suspect love! You'd think there was something behind it - some motive - some trick...."
I wonder if the book would had a different ending, now that gays are more accepted by society....
A Single Man all takes place in a day, some time after George's lover has died. Isherwood describes everything very honestly, making no attempt to romanticize anything, and presents everything with blunt accuracy. Though the novel is short, there is a lot that happens during this one day with George, even if most of it is in his mind. Personally I'm very interested in how the movie is going to be done because so much of the novel is the thoughts of George, and there aren't a lot of scenes per se. Every written word is brilliant and beautiful, however. If you are in college, teach college, or have been in college you will relish the detailed descriptions as George teaches his class and goes about the campus. Like I said, this is a very intellectual novel, and if you are only interested in sweeping romance or blockbuster scenes, this isn't the book for you. It is smart, but not hard to read, though, so even if you are one of those people, I think it'd be hard not to enjoy the heartbreaking honesty. It is about love, it's about life, it's about hardship, it's about society.. I really can't justify how good it is in a review, except that I assure: you will gain something from reading this book. Whether you are gay or straight, male or female, or anyone in the world, it is powerful and you will feel moved by it.
- I love that the novel takes place in a 24 hour period; so much happens and is addressed in just one day! Politics, education, age, sexuality...
- Isherwood was groundbreaking- credit must be given for his decision to address a topic that was for more taboo than it is today.
- Isherwood's control of language is exquisite without being over-the-top.
- The stage of grief George is at is captured so well; the point where one is trying to forget but is still definitely mourning.
- The only real aspect of this book that I thought was a bit trying was that with Charlotte; I understand the parallels and contrasts being made between she and George, but it just didn't seem to necessarily mirror the significance of the other events during his day. Personal preference, I think.
Great, quick read.