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A Single Man: A Novel (Picador Modern Classics) Paperback – June 11, 2013
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"Devoted" by Dean Koontz
For the first time in paperback, from Dean Koontz, the master of suspense, comes an epic thriller about a terrifying killer and the singular compassion it will take to defeat him. | Learn more
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“An absolutely devastating, unnerving, brilliant book.” ―Stephen Spender
“Isherwood's A Single Man, published in 1964, is one of the first and best novels of the modern gay liberation movement.” ―Edmund White
“A testimony to Isherwood's undiminished brilliance as a novelist.” ―Anthony Burgess
About the Author
- Item Weight : 5.9 ounces
- Paperback : 192 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0374533873
- ISBN-13 : 978-0374533878
- Product Dimensions : 5.55 x 0.54 x 8.3 inches
- Publisher : Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reprint Edition (June 11, 2013)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #62,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Now, there are two sides to George. One side is the outer George, the one who dresses impeccably each day, teaches his students, and makes polite small talk with the neighbors. The other is the internal George, the one who longs for an escape from the monotony of day to day life and contemplates the loaded pistol that's never too far from reach. It is this internal/external dichotomy that fuels the pages of Isherwood's novel.
A Single Man is a tremendous novel. It is the kind of work that should be required reading, but it usually gets passed over for more standard works. Within less than 200 pages, Isherwood writes about love, loss, acceptance, and grief in a way that is as profound as it is engrossing. In George, Isherwood captures the essence of any person labeled 'other' from the crowd, and creates a timeless message of accepting the uniqueness of each individual and living each day as if it is your last. I was completely blown away by this novel.
He gets up. He goes to work. He visits his best friend Charlotte for dinner, and finishes out the day with a surprising encounter with one of his students. The entire slim novel takes place over the course of this one day.
Though the middle parts of this book are notably less poignant than the beginning and end, there is such profound elegance in the opening pages and final third that I feel awed by it as a whole.
Isherwood digs deep into the tender heart of existential loneliness with a character who longs for meaning and connection amid the cruel indifference of the world.
A Single Man is a deeply moving novel, life-affirming in its own melancholy way.
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.
Top reviews from other countries
In the documentary'Chris & Don: A Love Story', filmed in the house Isherwood shared with his younger lover for over 30 years, amid his numerous paintings and drawings of Isherwood, Bachardy reveals that this story was written during one of their 'difficult' years when Bachardy in an extra-marital relationship thought about leaving, and Isherwood tried to imagine what life would be like without him. The pain that comes from that contemplation is transmuted to this impressive novel that celebrates the beauty of life as well as mourning loss. As a further connective pleasure, the subsequent film by Tom Ford featuring an elegantly clad Colin Firth beautifully captures the tone, mood and spirit of Isherwood's original.
Isherwood manages to stitch you into following one, very ordinary day of the very ordinary George's life. Through this we learn his memories, his thoughts and innermost feelings. George's dry sense of humour is riddled through the book in all its beauty and sadness.
It is one of the shortest books I've read at only 152 pages but it's so deep and clever, riddled with subtlety that makes you want to read it again.
You leave the book feeling as if you've known George forever.
Simply one of the best books I have ever read.
`This is a tightly planned little house. He often feels protected by its smallness; there is hardly room enough here to feel lonely'