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Celebrated as a masterpiece from its first publication, A Single Man is the story of George, an English professor in suburban California left heartbroken after the death of his lover, Jim. With devastating clarity and humour, Christopher Isherwood shows George's determination to carry on, evoking the unexpected pleasures of life as well as the soul's ability to triumph ove Celebrated as a masterpiece from its first publication, A Single Man is the story of George, an English professor in suburban California left heartbroken after the death of his lover, Jim. With devastating clarity and humour, Christopher Isherwood shows George's determination to carry on, evoking the unexpected pleasures of life as well as the soul's ability to triumph over loneliness and alienation.


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Celebrated as a masterpiece from its first publication, A Single Man is the story of George, an English professor in suburban California left heartbroken after the death of his lover, Jim. With devastating clarity and humour, Christopher Isherwood shows George's determination to carry on, evoking the unexpected pleasures of life as well as the soul's ability to triumph ove Celebrated as a masterpiece from its first publication, A Single Man is the story of George, an English professor in suburban California left heartbroken after the death of his lover, Jim. With devastating clarity and humour, Christopher Isherwood shows George's determination to carry on, evoking the unexpected pleasures of life as well as the soul's ability to triumph over loneliness and alienation.

30 review for A Single Man (Vintage Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    “A few times in my life I’ve had moments of absolute clarity. When for a few brief seconds the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think, and things seem so sharp and the world seems so fresh. It’s as though it had all just come into existence. I can never make these moments last. I cling to them, but like everything, they fade. I have lived my life on these moments. They pull me back to the present, and I realize that everything is exactly the way it was meant to be.” We all “A few times in my life I’ve had moments of absolute clarity. When for a few brief seconds the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think, and things seem so sharp and the world seems so fresh. It’s as though it had all just come into existence. I can never make these moments last. I cling to them, but like everything, they fade. I have lived my life on these moments. They pull me back to the present, and I realize that everything is exactly the way it was meant to be.” We all make plans, even sometimes we have moments when the future becomes crystal clear and we can feel brief contentment in the present. George is no different. He has made plans, many plans, beautiful plans, perfect plans that were scattered to the winds by seemingly random events. When we are with the right person our dreams can dovetail together and even the unachievable can seem so possible. An assembly of stars can be seen as mythological creatures and the future can be sketched outside the mind and achieve timbers, doors and windows. Those windows, if you peer out them from the corner of your eye, may even let you see further into your destiny. Jim died. Not some random Jim, not the Jim that was the friend of a friend or the Jim that sold newspapers at the local kiosk. He was the Jim of the past, the present, and the future. It was meant to be. Right? There are two Georges. The one that knows what to say, knows what to do, and the other George of the internal monologue. The truth embracer. The one brimming with hurt and pain. Sometimes he sneaks past the public persona and says exactly what he feels. “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.” Most of the time it is concealed. It is only when he is teaching at the local college that sometimes the discussion will trip the right buttons and the real George rippling with a chainmail of indignation will throw his voice up at the universe. “George smiles to himself, with entire self-satisfaction. Yes, I am crazy, he thinks. That is my secret; my strength.” He’s not crazy. He’s just bruised and battered. He’s angry and lost. Haunted by memories of what was and what could have been. “The perfect evening...lying down on the couch beside the bookcase and reading himself sleepy...Jim lying opposite him at the other end of the couch, also reading; the two of them absorbed in their books yet so completely aware of each other's presence.” George has moments when the two personas rally together and optimism that is hard to deny comes bubbling to the surface giving him surge of hope that there is time to still formulate a new future. “I am alive, he says to himself, I am alive! And life energy surges hotly through him, and delight, and appetite. How good to be in a body - even this old beat-up carcass - that still has warm blood and live semen and rich marrow and wholesome flesh!” And he still has books even though his relationship with them has changed. They don’t give him the solace that they used to, but they are still living entities that talk to him allbeit usually while on the porcelain throne. “These books have not made George nobler or better or more truly wise. It is just that he likes listening to their voices, the one or the other, according to his mood. He misuses them quite ruthlessly - despite the respectful way he has to talk about them in public - to put him to bed, to take his mind off the hands of the clock, to relax the nagging of his pyloric spasm, to gossip him out of his melancholy, to trigger the conditioned reflexes of his colon.” George still notices the beautiful youths walking around his campus. He even has visions about the local toughs standing on the street corners. ”The scowling youths on the corners see him as a dodderer, no doubt, or at best as a potential score. Yet he still claims a distant kinship with the strength of their young arms and shoulders and loins. For a few bucks he could get any one of them to climb into the car, ride back with him to his house, strip off butch leather jacket, skin-tight levis, shirt and cowboy boots and take part, a naked, sullen young athlete, in the wrestling bout of his pleasure.” But that isn’t what he wants anymore. ”I demand Jim.” We are all really two people. There is the person who speaks for us and there is the person who says what we are really thinking, a constant echo in our head as we puzzle over what we see. We are sometime rather brutal with the outside world, with people. If we are lucky we can keep it contained behind the facade, just keep playing the movie for an audience of one. The horrible thoughts we have, mostly just a bit of catty nonsense, but sometimes vindictively pessimistic give us sardonic pleasure. We smile and we say thank you or aren’t you sweet or we need to do this more often. Sometimes we do mean it, but sometimes the bruised soul within says something quite different from the version of ourselves we present to the world. We are all George. I also read and reviewed Christopher Isherwood's novel Mr. Norris Changes Trains. Click the link My Review of Mr. Norris Changes Trains If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  2. 5 out of 5

    Toby

    Christopher Isherwood has written a book that makes me hate him. Or maybe I hate myself? The main theme of this book is loss; loss of a lover, loss of youth, loss of identity, loss of direction, it's all there in beautifully phrased observations and it tickled that spot in my mind, the spot where I hide all of my fears, until I could no longer ignore the fact that I am and I continue to lose these things myself until one day the devastating and unthinkable will happen and I will lose that which Christopher Isherwood has written a book that makes me hate him. Or maybe I hate myself? The main theme of this book is loss; loss of a lover, loss of youth, loss of identity, loss of direction, it's all there in beautifully phrased observations and it tickled that spot in my mind, the spot where I hide all of my fears, until I could no longer ignore the fact that I am and I continue to lose these things myself until one day the devastating and unthinkable will happen and I will lose that which I hold most important. It's not my hair, for once. “The perfect evening...lying down on the couch beside the bookcase and reading himself sleepy...Jim lying opposite him at the other end of the couch, also reading; the two of them absorbed in their books yet so completely aware of each other's presence.” Isherwood's novel demonstrates how repressed my fears are, and so does my natural reaction of making a silly joke about my hair. This book does this to me and whilst I love that I am seen reading such wonderful literature on a train when either side of me are people with the latest mega bestsellers with no words bigger than two syllables and all the feeling of my hand after I've slept on it all night, I'm not sure I am mature enough (or willing) to deal with the consequences. “Think of two people, living together day after day, year after year, in this small space, standing elbow to elbow cooking at the same small stove, squeezing past each other on the narrow stairs, shaving in front of the same small bathroom mirror, constantly jogging, jostling, bumping against each other’s bodies by mistake or on purpose, sensually, aggressively, awkwardly, impatiently, in rage or in love – think what deep though invisible tracks they must leave, everywhere, behind them!” I didn't really want to discuss the fact that Christopher Isherwood was a gay man and that his protagonist is a gay man but it seems that a lot of people can't get past that fact. Top shelves = GLBT etc. and perhaps when this was written it really was unique to write about a gay man AS IF HE WAS A NORMAL HUMAN BEING but to me George is not defined by his sexuality, he is defined by his humanity and as such that should really be the end of it. This is not a great piece of gay literature, this is a great piece of literature full stop. If that offends you I shall not apologise. “No one ever hates without a cause....” I feel that to discuss this book any further would be to ruin it for you, it is 152 pages of quite large font, all you need to know beyond this is that it's also an incredibly uplifting and life affirming day-in-the-life narrative.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Luca Ambrosino

    English (A Single Man)/ Italiano George, a middle-aged professor, has an ordinary life, but now he must relate to loneliness because of the untimely passing of his partner. Glimmers of light thanks to few daily joys can be seen in his gray days: a female friend who invites him to dinner to distract him, but awkwardily ends up kissing him, ignoring his homosexuality and pretending more than what George can offer her. Or a college student who spends the night at George's house, giving him a few hou English (A Single Man)/ Italiano George, a middle-aged professor, has an ordinary life, but now he must relate to loneliness because of the untimely passing of his partner. Glimmers of light thanks to few daily joys can be seen in his gray days: a female friend who invites him to dinner to distract him, but awkwardily ends up kissing him, ignoring his homosexuality and pretending more than what George can offer her. Or a college student who spends the night at George's house, giving him a few hours of company and a renewed desire, which maybe it is too late to pander to. However, they are only momentary flashes: light and dark.I admit that I did not know Christopher Isherwood. First-class language, essential and sharp prose.Vote: 7,5 Una vita ordinaria quella di George, un professore di mezza età che deve relazionarsi con la solitudine a causa della scomparsa prematura del compagno. Spiragli di luce dati da piccole gioie quotidiane si intravedono nelle sue giornate grigie: un amica che lo invita a cena e lo distrae, ma goffamente finisce per baciarlo ignorando la sua omosessualità e pretendendo più di quello che George può offrirle. Oppure uno studente universitario che passa la notte a casa sua, donandogli qualche ora di compagnia e un desiderio riacceso ma che forse è troppo tardi per assecondare. Sono però solo intermittenze, luce e buio.Ammetto che non conoscevo Christopher Isherwood. Linguaggio sopraffino, prosa essenziale e tagliente.Voto: 7,5

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jean-Luke

    Oh, Colin Firth (sir), you are just perfect in every (single) way, and Julianne, can I become you in this film? With that eyeliner an inch thick. Let's all get drunk and dance to 'Green Onions' together. What a name for a song, right? And I don't even dance. Is that Don Draper on the phone? Ask to speak to Betty! And Mary's husband, long before Downton Abbey, with Nicholas Hoult and his Justin Bieber hair. (Can we please start calling it Kenny/Nicholas Hoult hair?) And that sweater! Where do I g Oh, Colin Firth (sir), you are just perfect in every (single) way, and Julianne, can I become you in this film? With that eyeliner an inch thick. Let's all get drunk and dance to 'Green Onions' together. What a name for a song, right? And I don't even dance. Is that Don Draper on the phone? Ask to speak to Betty! And Mary's husband, long before Downton Abbey, with Nicholas Hoult and his Justin Bieber hair. (Can we please start calling it Kenny/Nicholas Hoult hair?) And that sweater! Where do I get one? A Nicholas Hoult, I mean, but I'd settle for a sweater, I guess. Let's not forget the scene with John Kortajarena and Janet Leigh--absolute perfection--wait, this isn't IMDB, is it? Of course you must read the book--it'll your heart to shreds, but you'll turn the last page knowing that two/three years down the line you'll offer your heart on a silver platter so that the author can rip it to pieces once again. Doris? Doris, who? I don't remember seeing her in the film--seriously, read the book. And then see the film. And at some point in the future (Kenny says the past doesn't really matter to most kids his age anyway) do it all over again.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    Even though there are positive reviews aplenty I still had concerns this would turn out to be an overly melodramatic letdown, but needn't have worried as what we have here is a compressed work of utter brilliance from a vastly undervalued writer who does not waste a single word making the reading experience flawless. There are two thing in particular to highlight that nailed it for me, firstly I do not believe Isherwood set out with the intention of writing a story wholly about about homosexuali Even though there are positive reviews aplenty I still had concerns this would turn out to be an overly melodramatic letdown, but needn't have worried as what we have here is a compressed work of utter brilliance from a vastly undervalued writer who does not waste a single word making the reading experience flawless. There are two thing in particular to highlight that nailed it for me, firstly I do not believe Isherwood set out with the intention of writing a story wholly about about homosexuality but to create a universal character in George Falconer who comes across just like everybody else meaning he is easy to relate to. Secondly although deeply shattering in it's portrayal of a man grieving for his partner there is something almost life affirming in how George's bereavement is told that not only showcases how to do sad without being depressing, but also what love and affection means in it's truest sense regardless of the sex of a partner. A phenomenal small novel written with total heart and soul.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    An astounding piece of work; a day in the life of novel. The day belongs to George Falconer; an English professor in his 50s (English by nationality as well) teaching in southern California. It is set in the early 1960s. George’s lover Jim has recently died suddenly and he is alone again. The novel takes us from waking to breakfast, to travelling to work and so on. This doesn’t have the grandiosity of Joyce; it is much more straightforward and focuses living each day because of life’s brevity. T An astounding piece of work; a day in the life of novel. The day belongs to George Falconer; an English professor in his 50s (English by nationality as well) teaching in southern California. It is set in the early 1960s. George’s lover Jim has recently died suddenly and he is alone again. The novel takes us from waking to breakfast, to travelling to work and so on. This doesn’t have the grandiosity of Joyce; it is much more straightforward and focuses living each day because of life’s brevity. The novel is about loss, but it is also about being an outsider (in this case gay, a foreigner, middle-aged, alone); most of all it is about being human and we share George’s day, his hopes and fears. The interactions with Charlotte and Kenny are wonderfully poignant (and very funny). The prose is beautiful. Some stream of consciousness novels can be hard work, but this one just flows; it could so easily have become sentimental because of the focus on loss, but it does not. The everyday occurrences are well described; dinner with a friend, teaching class (George’s interior monologue is wonderful), a flirtation, swimming in the sea (admittedly only everyday if you live near it!) and the normal activities of all our lives; even driving a car. Isherwood is really asking “How do we live?” “How do we get through life?” There are no answers but the ending is truly great and you will you a long way to find a better one in literature. Isherwood not only describes being alone well, he also captures being in a relationship with another; “The perfect evening...lying down on the couch beside the bookcase and reading himself sleepy...Jim lying opposite him at the other end of the couch, also reading; the two of them absorbed in their books yet so completely aware of each other's presence.” The descriptions of the physical geography of the house, as it is lived in alone and the contrast with two people living in the same small space is just brilliant. This is just a great novel and I would urge everyone to read it. There is a certain level of melancholy, but there is warmth, hope and great humanity.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Julio Genao

    I aspire. It's listed as being 192 pages long, but I swear it's because the edition I read had fifty words a page with three inch margins an every side. It's so economical it is more or less mind-blowing. If my desire to express whimsy came from Terry Pratchett and P.G. Wodehouse, and my inclination to be daring and irreverent came from David Foster Wallace and Stephen King— If my unruly imagination came from Bill Watterson, and my eye for alienation from Susan Cooper— If my lust for scale came from I aspire. It's listed as being 192 pages long, but I swear it's because the edition I read had fifty words a page with three inch margins an every side. It's so economical it is more or less mind-blowing. If my desire to express whimsy came from Terry Pratchett and P.G. Wodehouse, and my inclination to be daring and irreverent came from David Foster Wallace and Stephen King— If my unruly imagination came from Bill Watterson, and my eye for alienation from Susan Cooper— If my lust for scale came from J.R.R. Tolkien, and James Clavell and Robert Jordan— And if my visions of other worlds came from Isaac Asimov, and Ray Bradbury, and Robert A. Heinlein— Then my taste for lyrical, emotive, yet still ecumenical prose came from Christopher Isherwood. Every line a honed blade. With every word the keen edge, effortlessly slicing, slicing, slicing, until the ribbons of you it leaves behind reveal the images and the feelings and the insight he'd woven into his words from the beginning. Oh, how I aspire. How I try so very hard to come close to what he's done in this novel. To how he's done it. An entire day in the life of a human man. A single man, during which his life and all that it means and all it has come to spreads open for you like a night bloom, a secret between you and the moon, to look upon it and see what's inside. He wrote it in something like two weeks. And it's wonderful, and heartbreaking, and now a passenger in my body—a lens over my eyes, the better for me to compare my labors against his. For me to remember how he created so much with so little. Probably the greatest influence on my writing, and the bar against which I measure all literature, not just LGBT lit. Flawless. (view spoiler)[As is the film by former chief designer of house Gucci, Tom Ford. It is transcendent, and its beauty is matched only by its grief. (hide spoiler)]

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    This witty, acerbic, elegant little novel should not be confused with the soggy, self-pitying movie of the same name.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    Ever feel lonely? Ever lose someone irreplaceable? Feel like their absence is the lion's share of what you're carrying around in that body of yours, and the only way you can drag that collection of cells through life is by putting on a face, an act, a show? Christopher Isherwood captured that painful status in this small, marvellous book. George has lost Jim. And now George is bewilderingly alone - not melodramatically so, but the opposite. Mundanely alone. Sitting-on-the-toilet kind of alone. He Ever feel lonely? Ever lose someone irreplaceable? Feel like their absence is the lion's share of what you're carrying around in that body of yours, and the only way you can drag that collection of cells through life is by putting on a face, an act, a show? Christopher Isherwood captured that painful status in this small, marvellous book. George has lost Jim. And now George is bewilderingly alone - not melodramatically so, but the opposite. Mundanely alone. Sitting-on-the-toilet kind of alone. He's alienated - a British guy in America, a gay man in 1960s suburbia, knocking around his house, which is small, yes, but feels cavernous now with no Jim. So in these pages is the account of one day in the life of George. Taking his collection of cells to work, to the outer world, trying to make his puzzle piece fit, even though it is misshapen by grief. It's miraculous how relatable it is, how any reader can recognize that void George feels, that play-acting at living he forces himself to do. And it's not going to depress you in the way you might think. Because it's so damn beautiful - it's about loss, yes, but it's just as much about life, and picking yourself up, and running into the ocean naked at night with someone you barely know - while you still can. Plus, if you're lucky enough to have seen the film (which is excellent), it brings to mind George on the big screen, and that's never a bad thing:

  10. 4 out of 5

    Evan

    This book is a truly beautiful thing; a completely exquisite experience. Page after page it spoke to me, as eloquently and profoundly as any book I've ever read. It was sad and funny and wise and observant without ever becoming sentimental or maudlin. In 186 pages of concentrated, yet langorous, stream-of-consciousness prose Isherwood gets to the heart of what it means to be a middle-aged man, a loner, a fish out of water, an expatriate on several levels -- as a Britisher in a new land, a gay man This book is a truly beautiful thing; a completely exquisite experience. Page after page it spoke to me, as eloquently and profoundly as any book I've ever read. It was sad and funny and wise and observant without ever becoming sentimental or maudlin. In 186 pages of concentrated, yet langorous, stream-of-consciousness prose Isherwood gets to the heart of what it means to be a middle-aged man, a loner, a fish out of water, an expatriate on several levels -- as a Britisher in a new land, a gay man in mid-century America, a man who thinks of himself as an outsider and a social animal at the same time; as a human, temporarily privileged to be in the land of the living. Death is always on his mind, which makes his yearning to live all the more powerful and poignant. The book has no plot, per se. It is one day in the life of George, a British professor of English lit teaching at a small college near LA. It begins with him waking up in bed and his realization of the process of becoming conscious, of being alive, of being here and now. It proceeds through memories of his life, and the recent death of his partner, Jim. It takes us through his day, teaching his seemingly oblivious young charges and privileges us with his sly, wry and oddly generous observations on American social mores, customs and materialism of the 1950s-early 1960s. It shows us his distanced relations with his neighbors, his platonic and touching relationship with fellow expat, Charlotte, his journeys to the grocery and to a bar, and his fledgling potential love relationship with a young student. The book is clearly meant to be read as a first-person POV narrative, yet is told from the omniscient standpoint, referring to George as "he." It's in keeping with George's own tendency to step back and look at himself within the big picture. Despite the tinge of sadness throughout, the book is often wickedly funny, and always full of magnificent insight. Finding a Holy Grail book like this is what readers live for. I'm quite floored by it, and very grateful to have found it. A new favorite. ([email protected] 2016; very slightly amended) (2016: As of this date I still have not seen the film version, which I possess in my film collection. I'm actually not eager to see it because the book was so fulfilling.)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Fabian {Councillor}

    He pictures the evening he might have spent, snugly at home, fixing the food he has bought, then lying down on the couch beside the bookcase and reading himself slowly sleepy. At first glance, this is an absolutely convincing and charming scene of domestic contentment. Only after a few instances does George notice the omission which makes it meaningless. What is left out of the picture is Jim, lying opposite him at the other end of the couch, also reading; the two of them absorbed in the He pictures the evening he might have spent, snugly at home, fixing the food he has bought, then lying down on the couch beside the bookcase and reading himself slowly sleepy. At first glance, this is an absolutely convincing and charming scene of domestic contentment. Only after a few instances does George notice the omission which makes it meaningless. What is left out of the picture is Jim, lying opposite him at the other end of the couch, also reading; the two of them absorbed in their books yet so completely aware of each other's presence. Christopher Isherwood's "A Single Man" is a relatable and convincing study of the loss of a beloved person in your life and the aftereffects of dealing with the empty void left behind. We are introduced to our protagonist George, a middle-aged man who has been attached to a man, Jim, who has recently died in an accident. The status of his relationship with Jim is never clearly stated, though it is heavily implied they shared a sexual relationship and were a couple until Jim's untimely death. Exploring the theme of homosexuality, Isherwood never ponders about the usual subjects authors can write about when developing gay or lesbian characters: George's relationship with Jim and the other men in his life is depicted as something entirely normal, which is exactly the way it should be done. George is a college lecturer who tells his students things like "a minority is only thought of as a minority when it constitutes some kind of threat to the majority, real or imaginary. And no threat is ever quite imaginary... minorities are people; people, not angels." His homosexuality is never clearly defined; Isherwood refuses to even once use terms such as gay or homosexual, though the overall subject of the novel is clearly implied in the context and the underlying tone of the narrative. I'm like a book you have to read. A book can't read itself to you. It doesn't even know what it's about. I don't know what I'm about. This is a book about clinging to the past, about the importance of forgetting in order to start living again, about how to be truly happy. Philosophical in his novel's depth, yet never exaggeratedly philosophical in his style, Isherwood confronts his readers with a number of important questions about life itself, the importance of past, present and future and how to deal with what lies behind and what lies ahead of you. The writing style requires some time to get used to. When I first started reading the book a short time after watching the movie starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore, I was thrown back by the writing. Between the most notable parts of the text, Isherwood likes to ramble on and on about the daily life of our protagonist, and as important as it may be for setting the mood, I personally found it difficult to keep my attention on the prose. However, especially in the second half of the novel, the dominance of those parts is more and more reduced, until we come to the ending, an ending which I am likely not going to forget because it simply was so surprisingly well-written. "A Single Man" is clearly not a novel for everyone, considering that hardly anything is ever happening in this novel and we mostly only get insight on the characters' thoughts and the process of his character development - the latter, by the way, being an aspect which Isherwood understood to embody very believably. It took some time for me to get accustomed to the novel's style and to get the images from the movie out of my head in order to appreciate the book for what it is and to judge it separately from the on-screen adaptation. It's a great book which touches many interesting and important subjects without referring to stereotypical methods to convey them, though in my opinion it's also a book which is hard to recommend to anybody. In "99 Novels: The Best in English Since 1939", Anthony Burgess calls this novel "a fine piece of plain writing which haunts the memory", and I couldn't agree more.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    For astronauts that had returned from walking on the moon, I imagine that the worst part of their experience was having to live out the rest of their lives. Every other event would be "after the moon"; all experiences would be measured by that yardstick; old and new relationships would orbit around that event. This then makes me think about retired professional athletes, former world-stage politicians, etc. - do they also live out the remainder of their lives reflecting on the halcyon days of yes For astronauts that had returned from walking on the moon, I imagine that the worst part of their experience was having to live out the rest of their lives. Every other event would be "after the moon"; all experiences would be measured by that yardstick; old and new relationships would orbit around that event. This then makes me think about retired professional athletes, former world-stage politicians, etc. - do they also live out the remainder of their lives reflecting on the halcyon days of yesteryear? Here's the genius of this book: Isherwood writes a fantastic story that reminds the reader that if we live long enough, we will all have an "after-the-moon" chapter in our life. The protagonist George is living through the post-trauma haze of life after the sudden death of his partner Jim. And though the narrative moves through George's mind and eyes, we recognize that it isn't just George that is having to experience this fog. His neighborly female friend Charley is experiencing the same burden of living after her own defining event. We read, and if we relate viscerally, we are in that stage of life. If not, it hasn't happened to us yet. Isherwood doesn't answer the question of "How do we get through this?" His reflection on this theme on the last page of the novel is one of the best endings I've read in a long while. Highly recommended.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Fabian

    Day in the Life of Gay. In the 1960s! Artifact indeed--more valuable because it is truly a piece of Isherwood's heart, it is semi autobiographic; our hero George is an Englishman living in L.A.! But he is depressed, he is experienced... this day, like Clarissa Dalloway's, will be special. Personally, I really admired the way White Privilege is portrayed and dissected in this novel. George is an outsider, but not un-White, not un-learned. He fights for his rightful place... as an Outsider! Day in the Life of Gay. In the 1960s! Artifact indeed--more valuable because it is truly a piece of Isherwood's heart, it is semi autobiographic; our hero George is an Englishman living in L.A.! But he is depressed, he is experienced... this day, like Clarissa Dalloway's, will be special. Personally, I really admired the way White Privilege is portrayed and dissected in this novel. George is an outsider, but not un-White, not un-learned. He fights for his rightful place... as an Outsider!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Overmark

    We never meet Jim in person. This is George after Jim. A middle-aged man caught between daydreams and nightmares, adhering to the conformity of life in the daytime, drowning his sorrows - well knowing that the little devils can swim - in alcohol at night. Taking exercise, working hard, and allowing himself daydreaming a little once again, ´cause there MUST be a life after Jim, except there isn´t. How do you cope when your lover is gone, killed in a car crash, a lover you even can´t admit the lov We never meet Jim in person. This is George after Jim. A middle-aged man caught between daydreams and nightmares, adhering to the conformity of life in the daytime, drowning his sorrows - well knowing that the little devils can swim - in alcohol at night. Taking exercise, working hard, and allowing himself daydreaming a little once again, ´cause there MUST be a life after Jim, except there isn´t. How do you cope when your lover is gone, killed in a car crash, a lover you even can´t admit the love to openly? Is “living on” denouncing the love and life you shared? George don’t know, or can’t decide for himself. He just goes on, not hoping that time will heal, for it will never. Being lonely though surrounded be people is George´s new identity, the one he slowly and often with a slight hang-over puts on every morning, George without Jim. To have loved and lost. The pain George feels is unfolded expertly and with such empathy to the reader, that it is hard not the shed a tear. The novel is often claimed to be Christopher Isherwood’s masterpiece, and I can only support that.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    Confident and masterly. A simple story brilliantly told, over the course of a single day. Head over heels, here. I had found the movie breathtaking, back then; only now am I getting around to reading the source material and sure enough, it delivers. Funny to find out just how much the character of Charlotte benefited from Julianne Moore’s sex appeal and Tom Ford’s expert taste, when eventually made into a part. Didn’t quite expect the original Charlotte but easily embraced her, like all the rest Confident and masterly. A simple story brilliantly told, over the course of a single day. Head over heels, here. I had found the movie breathtaking, back then; only now am I getting around to reading the source material and sure enough, it delivers. Funny to find out just how much the character of Charlotte benefited from Julianne Moore’s sex appeal and Tom Ford’s expert taste, when eventually made into a part. Didn’t quite expect the original Charlotte but easily embraced her, like all the rest.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jack Edwards

    I couldn't put this book down and found it absolutely fascinating to study in the context of both feminism (in the depiction of Charley) and queer theory (George and his perceptions of homosocial, and homosexual, relationships). Definitely a contender for my dissertation!!! I couldn't put this book down and found it absolutely fascinating to study in the context of both feminism (in the depiction of Charley) and queer theory (George and his perceptions of homosocial, and homosexual, relationships). Definitely a contender for my dissertation!!!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Constantine

    Rating: 4.0/5.0 Genre: Classic Book Structure: This book is around 152 pages with no chapters. The first half of the book is more focused on narration and the second half there is more dialogue than the first half. "I'm like a book you have to read. A book can't read itself to you. It doesn't even know what it's about. I don't know what I'm about." I have watched the movie adaptation when it was released in 2009 and I loved it a lot but never read this book. I wanted to rewatch that movie again but t Rating: 4.0/5.0 Genre: Classic Book Structure: This book is around 152 pages with no chapters. The first half of the book is more focused on narration and the second half there is more dialogue than the first half. "I'm like a book you have to read. A book can't read itself to you. It doesn't even know what it's about. I don't know what I'm about." I have watched the movie adaptation when it was released in 2009 and I loved it a lot but never read this book. I wanted to rewatch that movie again but this time I promised myself to read the book first before watching the movie. First thing I have to say is that the writing of Christopher Isherwood is so beautiful, very poetic and has so much depth to it. His words make you feel like you are in the middle of the ocean unaware where the waves will take you. This is one of those stories that we call as a slice of life. We follow the main character George an English professor who lost his partner Jim in an accident. We get to know one day of his life, but as you read you will understand how George is grieving and how he is playing a double life. In that one day we get to know some characters he meets and the way he interacts with them and what do they mean to him. One thing you have to keep in mind that the story depends a lot on the stream of consciousness. The book hardly has any plot but the reader gets a glimpse of each character's little story and George's opinion about them. Characters like Doris, Charlotte, and Kenney play an important role in that one day. To me, it felt that this one day of George's life was an important one the way he forgave Doris without explicitly expressing it to her and his meeting with Charlotte and their exchange of opinions & grief regarding those who are not in their life. That day comes to an end in a poetic way that leaves a strong impact on the reader. I give A Single Man 4.0 beautiful stars out of 5.0

  18. 5 out of 5

    Pedro

    A single man. One day. One life. “Staring and staring into the mirror, it sees many faces within his face—the face of the child, the boy, the young man, the not-so-young man—all present still, preserved like fossils on super-imposed layers, and, like fossils, dead.” Loneliness. “What are they afraid of? They are afraid of what they know is somewhere in the darkness around them, of what may at any moment emerge into the undeniable light of their flash-lamps, nevermore to be ignored, explained away.” T A single man. One day. One life. “Staring and staring into the mirror, it sees many faces within his face—the face of the child, the boy, the young man, the not-so-young man—all present still, preserved like fossils on super-imposed layers, and, like fossils, dead.” Loneliness. “What are they afraid of? They are afraid of what they know is somewhere in the darkness around them, of what may at any moment emerge into the undeniable light of their flash-lamps, nevermore to be ignored, explained away.” This is a quiet and exquisite little wonder of a novel that asks for an introspective kind of reader. There’s no fuss, no wasted words and unnecessary drama (or any hot sex scenes). It all happens in a beautiful dream-like kind of way. It all happens in the reader’s mind. “To say time is evil because evil happens in time is like saying the ocean is a fish because fish happen in the ocean.” There is a lot packed in these pages but at the same time everything’s so simple and straightforward that I really don’t want to give too much away. Just read it. You’ll not regret it. One life. One day. A single man. “The point is, do you want to go? If you want to go, you should go. Never mind anybody else.”

  19. 4 out of 5

    Netta

    I wouldn’t dare to write anything about someone’s absence and how it bares you, as it is already there, tightly packed into this mesmerizing little book. We never truly experience what absence is till it’s too late, don’t we? That’s why we are never prepared. A Single Man, to me, is a novel about Jim-less George and his pain which feels too real to absorb - palpable and ugly, physical and raw, at times almost disgusting. What’s more important (and what I discovered reading this book for the seco I wouldn’t dare to write anything about someone’s absence and how it bares you, as it is already there, tightly packed into this mesmerizing little book. We never truly experience what absence is till it’s too late, don’t we? That’s why we are never prepared. A Single Man, to me, is a novel about Jim-less George and his pain which feels too real to absorb - palpable and ugly, physical and raw, at times almost disgusting. What’s more important (and what I discovered reading this book for the second time) is that this novel tells you how much of what you had thought was your truest self is lost in the transition between someone’s presence and absence in your life. It’s not about learning to live without someone, it’s about learning to live with yourself once again, on your own.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Barry Pierce

    Probably the greatest and saddest ending to a book I have ever read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986) was an English novelist who pioneered the writing of novels with gay themes in English literature. He was openly gay, lived with and befriended fellow gay men some of them were famous also like W. H. Auden and Truman Capote. At some points in his life, he also became friends and was mentored by E. M. Forster. In turn, when he met Ray Bradbury in a chance encounter in a bookstore, he wrote a glowing review for his The Martian Chronicles that helped launch the lat Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986) was an English novelist who pioneered the writing of novels with gay themes in English literature. He was openly gay, lived with and befriended fellow gay men some of them were famous also like W. H. Auden and Truman Capote. At some points in his life, he also became friends and was mentored by E. M. Forster. In turn, when he met Ray Bradbury in a chance encounter in a bookstore, he wrote a glowing review for his The Martian Chronicles that helped launch the latter's career as a novelist. They too, became close friends. A couple of years ago, I read Isherwood's The Berlin Stories which was actually composed of two novels: Mr. Norris Changes Trains (1935) and Goodbye to Berlin (1939). Both of these works were published in Berlin at the time when Hitler was coming or in power and being gay was not tolerated. This probably explains the subtle treatment that Isherwood used in depicting gayness in these novels. The gay theme has to be deduced from closely reading the lines. Very much unlike this book, said to be his best work, A Single Man (1964). Very thin plot. Almost not a plot at all. It's about a day in the life of a George, 58-y/o literature professor in a suburb school in Southern California. George has recently lost his lover, Jim who died in an vehicular accident while visiting his parent in his hometown in Ohio. At the time of Jim's death they have been living together as a couple for 28 years. The narration starts from the time George wakes up up to the time when he was sleeping after a day in his life. It was just a day but Isherwood was able to incorporate almost everything there is to know about George from his being alone and sad in the morning, his snooping neighbors whose sons they did not want to go near George's house, his life at school: his students - one of them watching him for his gayness - as well as a fellow professor who he shares his room with in the faculty department. His visit at the gym that he describes to be the most honest place on earth [that's a bit different from my view since most guys in the gym I visit are gays, loud gays]. His friendship with Charley a single, separated 45-y/o lady friend who fancies George. His drinking spree with one of his students, Kenny and swimming naked with him later before retiring back to bed that night. The rest I will not tell you because that for me is the highlight of this novel. It almost does not have a plot yet it is textured, full and taut. Most of the narratives are first person and his use of stream-of-consciousness is one of the best I've read. Clear, concise, no pretensions. Well, the book got me more interested because I have been wondering what goes on in the mind of a middle-aged gay guys. Most of my gay friends are younger than me so sometimes I wonder what if I were a gay man: how would my life's been different from what I have now. Judging from Wiki's entries about Isherwood's life, this novel seems to be semi-autobiographical so it feels sincere, truthful, honest. And these are brilliantly reflected in this book. A very memorable read. A fitting book to cap my whole reading experience for 2011 when I read the most number of books in my 47 years of existence on earth. Thank you, Goodreads! Happy New Year, everyone!

  22. 4 out of 5

    BrokenTune

    Waking up begins with saying am and now. That which has awoken then lies for a while staring up at the ceiling and down into itself until it has recognised I, and therefrom deduced I am, I am now. Here comes next, and is at least negatively reassuring; because here, this morning, is where it had expected to find itself; what’s called at home. But now isn’t simply now. Now is also a cold reminder; one whole day later than yesterday, one year later than last year. Every now is labelled with its date Waking up begins with saying am and now. That which has awoken then lies for a while staring up at the ceiling and down into itself until it has recognised I, and therefrom deduced I am, I am now. Here comes next, and is at least negatively reassuring; because here, this morning, is where it had expected to find itself; what’s called at home. But now isn’t simply now. Now is also a cold reminder; one whole day later than yesterday, one year later than last year. Every now is labelled with its date, rendering all past nows obsolete, until – later or sooner – perhaps – no, not perhaps – quite certainly: It will come. For its brevity, this book is packed with ideas and story. It's such a fine example of an author making every word count. Making things count is also on the mind of George, our MC, who is trying to come to grips with life after the death of his partner, Jim. Right from the start of the book, he is looking for a way to emerge from his loss and live again as a single man. But in a setting where he cannot be openly himself, where he even feels like his best friend does not understand him, it is difficult for him to express himself and to be acknowledged. Instead, he feels invisible. ‘You’re going to walk home like that? Are you crazy? They’d call the cops!’ Kenny shrugs his shoulders good-humouredly. ‘Nobody would have seen us. We’re invisible – didn’t you know?’ Invisibility is a theme in that run through the book from George's bathroom window a few pages from the start to the invisible inner workings of his heart at the end of the book. It's an invisibility that is heartbreaking: George's expression of shock and grief at learning of Jim's death gets mistaken for ambivalence, and even when he breaks down at his friend Charlotte's it happens under the cloak of darkness. No one sees him. No one sees Jim. Christopher Isherwood is one of the writers that I would like to read more of. I had mostly thought of him as the creator of Sally Bowles and the Berlin novels that inform so much of our pop culture view of the 1920s, but this 1960s novel of his makes me really want to revisit the Berlin novels from the point of looking at his writing. I really loved how much he could make happen in a such a concise way. But is all of George altogether present here? Up the coast a few miles north, in a lava reef under the cliffs, there are a lot of rock pools. You can visit them when the tide is out. Each pool is separate and different, and you can, if you are fanciful, give them names – such as George, Charlotte, Kenny, Mrs Strunk. Just as George and the others are thought of, for convenience, as individual entities, so you may think of a rock pool as an entity; though, of course, it is not. The waters of its consciousness – so to speak – are swarming with hunted anxieties, grim-jawed greeds, dartingly vivid intuitions, old crusty-shelled rock-gripping obstinacies, deep-down sparkling undiscovered secrets, ominous protean organisms motioning mysteriously, perhaps warningly, toward the surface light. How can such a variety of creatures coexist at all? Because they have to. The rocks of the pool hold their world together. And, throughout the day of the ebb tide, they know no other.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Appleton

    Well. I picked this up earlier to move into the 'reading-next' pile and, on the way to the pile, thought to myself, let's read the first page and see what it's like. And now I've finished reading it the same day. As I make my way through the top 100 list I am looking for the books I call 'masterpieces', which is my favourite word when referring to literature, as it holds so much weight, honour and power. Books are masterpieces for different reasons and this, I would have to say, is a masterpiece. Well. I picked this up earlier to move into the 'reading-next' pile and, on the way to the pile, thought to myself, let's read the first page and see what it's like. And now I've finished reading it the same day. As I make my way through the top 100 list I am looking for the books I call 'masterpieces', which is my favourite word when referring to literature, as it holds so much weight, honour and power. Books are masterpieces for different reasons and this, I would have to say, is a masterpiece. Thoughtful, sensitive and moving.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    A Single Man is a day in the life (quaint naturalist device, that) of a middle-aged Englishman and English professor grieving in a numbed, autopilot kinda way after the recent death of his partner. I remember Don Bachardy saying in the film Chris and Don: A Love Story that Isherwood wrote this novel during one of their trial separations; the intensity of George’s sense of loss was therefore underwritten by Isherwood’s own dreadful imagination of life without Don. I loved George’s morning, and hi A Single Man is a day in the life (quaint naturalist device, that) of a middle-aged Englishman and English professor grieving in a numbed, autopilot kinda way after the recent death of his partner. I remember Don Bachardy saying in the film Chris and Don: A Love Story that Isherwood wrote this novel during one of their trial separations; the intensity of George’s sense of loss was therefore underwritten by Isherwood’s own dreadful imagination of life without Don. I loved George’s morning, and his Huxley class (doesn’t that date the novel!), but I’ll admit Isherwood lost me for awhile after that, maybe as far as the dinner with Charley; George's small-hours drunken cruise through old beachfront haunts, however, put me back on board. George was drawn and held to Southern California by the shabby 1930s beach bohemianism and the wartime and immediately postwar “Hey Sailor!” fuckfest. He’s a respectable but somewhat incongruous remnant, now that “the cottages that used to reek of bathtub gin and reverberate with the poetry of Hart Crane had fallen to the occupying army of Coke-drinking television watchers”; now that the sexually opportunistic hitchhiking serviceman (his partner Jim was one) has given way to the button-pushing technocrat who freeway commutes between rocket base and Rancho Suburbia. How fitting, really, that A Single Man is dedicated to Gore Vidal, for in addition to the slightly creepy, pre-war America First isolationism, the milieu whose passing Vidal most often mourns is the wartime and immediately postwar “Hey Sailor” fuckfest. Sorry, I needed to type that just one more time. The ending really moved me. I love how the mystical New Age-y Isherwood creeps up on you under a covering fire of knowing, sardonic humor. Whenever I don’t feel like reading what I’m reading, I stop by for extended visits at one of four books: Nabokov’s The Gift and Speak, Memory, Merrill's A Different Person, or Isherwood’s Diaries: 1939-1960, in which I’m still in the early 1940s, when Isherwood was trying to holistically reconcile swami-directed meditation with what he deplored as his incorrigibly perverse and bitchy personality. Judging by ending of A Single Man, he seems to have worked it out just fine by the early 1960s. ------------------------ Colin Firth looks sexy--Don Draper is a country boy--but WOW the movie sucked! But not any more than most adaptations: overblown, exaggerated, glammed-up, marred by inexplicable additions, distortions and omissions; oh, and there’s weeping violins, because without them how would we know that George is sad? To mangle a novel as clean and tidy as this one really takes imagination. Tom Ford should be congratulated, though, for his instinctive sureness when it came to vulgarizing Isherwood’s story to the needs of this particular entertainment moment: you see, A Single Man was written in the early 1960s, is set in the early 1960s, so basically it’s a gay Mad Men (Jon Hamm even has a cameo!) with zany Almodovarisms and the unironic deployment of perfume commercial slo-mo; and weeping violins. I feel sorry for people who don’t read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Leslie D.

    This is a gem of a book. The style of writing is quite lyrical in a sense and beautiful itself, let alone having a great story line! I finished it quickly and highly recommend the Audiobook version. Narration is stunning & adds a lot to it in my opinion!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Catie

    I am not sure if I am just ignorant of what the humor was like in the 60’s, or if Christopher Isherwood was way ahead of his time, but this book definitely has what I would call a modern sense of humor. It’s that special blend of bittersweet heartbreak, self-deprecation, and sardonic wit. I am very familiar with this type of humor from my favorite movies and television shows, but I am pleasantly surprised to find it here, in this brilliant little book that, on the surface, appears to be about de I am not sure if I am just ignorant of what the humor was like in the 60’s, or if Christopher Isherwood was way ahead of his time, but this book definitely has what I would call a modern sense of humor. It’s that special blend of bittersweet heartbreak, self-deprecation, and sardonic wit. I am very familiar with this type of humor from my favorite movies and television shows, but I am pleasantly surprised to find it here, in this brilliant little book that, on the surface, appears to be about death and grief. This book is a very intimate portrait of George, a 58 year old man who has just lost the love of his life. Because he is gay, and this is the 1960’s, he can’t truly share his grief with anyone. His whole life is a tremendous performance – at his job, where he is an English professor; in his small family oriented neighborhood, where he is the pitied outcast; and even with his “best friend.” He is meticulous in his performances, but he can’t help but let his internal feelings occasionally erupt in small outbursts. We the readers are allowed into his vast, fully formed internal life. He struggles with the hatred that blooms in response to the world’s treatment of him, and the tides of loneliness that consume him now that Jim is gone. But he also feels vital; he appreciates beauty around him and he can’t hold back the strong will to live and move on. He laughs at himself. Although it is the practice of his life to assume different roles, this is a man who we slowly realize is supremely comfortable in his own skin. The ending of this book is one of those, “No, he wouldn’t…oh yes he would!” type of moments. It completely gutted me. I have not seen the film version, but I can’t wait to see what they did with it (Plus, Colin Firth…). This beautiful, sad, funny book is going on my favorites shelf.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I noticed when I liked someone else's review that I didn't have this one marked. How could that be? I've read it at least twice. Stellar book. I noticed when I liked someone else's review that I didn't have this one marked. How could that be? I've read it at least twice. Stellar book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    James

    I went into this anticipating a well-written but somewhat dated glimpse at what life was like for white gay men in the early 1960's. I knew it was first published in 1964 and considered an early gay classic for its candid, boldly sympathetic depiction of a homosexual man. What I did not anticipate, however, was for this to be as timeless and transcendent as it is, traversing the distance of decades to resonate deeply with me as a middle-aged, “out” gay man in the 21st century. Sure, there are re I went into this anticipating a well-written but somewhat dated glimpse at what life was like for white gay men in the early 1960's. I knew it was first published in 1964 and considered an early gay classic for its candid, boldly sympathetic depiction of a homosexual man. What I did not anticipate, however, was for this to be as timeless and transcendent as it is, traversing the distance of decades to resonate deeply with me as a middle-aged, “out” gay man in the 21st century. Sure, there are references to Cuba, the Cold War, "Negroes," the rise of the suburbs, the stigmatization and even criminalization of homosexuality in American society, etc., that situate this in a very specific time and place. But this slim volume (I read it in one night) tells a much more profound and universal story about the pain and loneliness of feeling like an outsider, a performer, an imposter in a world where one's true self isn't welcomed or fully understood. This short novel spans a day in the life of George, a gay, middle-aged, semi-closeted English professor still grieving the recent tragic death of his partner. We follow George throughout every ordinary, routine part of his day: taking a morning shit, making breakfast, driving to work, teaching class, visiting the gym, getting drunk with his best female friend, etc. Think James Joyce's Ulysses, had Leopold Bloom been a single gay man living in Southern California in the early 1960's. Just simpler, shorter, and far more accessible! 😉 We become the most intimate of confidantes for George, learning his deepest emotions and darkest fears. Every bittersweet memory; every cruel, selfish impulse; all of the humor, rage, lust, grief, despair, and unexpected, defiant joy he encounters throughout the course of this ordinary day. George isn't always the easiest or most pleasant company to keep, and some chapters are more compelling than others. The section where he teaches his college class, for example, drags on way too long and gets bogged down in tedious academic minutiae. But then I suppose the tedium is part of the point! This is one of those books that sneaks up on you when you're not looking. And what emerges by the end of the day is a mesmerizing, melancholy, quietly devastating meditation on loneliness, loss, aging, desire, and how one navigates and survives in a world where one never truly fits or completely belongs. (That scene on the beach near the end is one of the most beautiful and haunting passages I've read all year).

  29. 5 out of 5

    El

    If you watched the 2009 movie version of this story starring Colin Firth before reading this book, be aware that the movie takes the story in... a different direction. Kinda sorta? It's different. For all of its similarities, it's different. I saw the movie first because I requested both from the library and the movie came in before the book, and the movies are only borrowable for a week, and who knew when the book was coming in, so I just sucked it up and did it. These are both good stories. But If you watched the 2009 movie version of this story starring Colin Firth before reading this book, be aware that the movie takes the story in... a different direction. Kinda sorta? It's different. For all of its similarities, it's different. I saw the movie first because I requested both from the library and the movie came in before the book, and the movies are only borrowable for a week, and who knew when the book was coming in, so I just sucked it up and did it. These are both good stories. But they're different. They both tell the story of George, a 50+-year-old professor who has suddenly lost his lover, Jim. They both tell the story across the span of one day, from waking in the morning to going to sleep at night. They both have some of the same scenes and mostly the same characters. But there are also differences that I'm not even sure were necessary in the movie; though perhaps the book didn't have enough je ne sais quois to be an interesting enough movie. Now, forget the movie. Just shut up about Colin Firth already, all you Colin Firth-lovers out there. This is a good book. Isherwood takes love and loss to the most heartbreaking level imaginable. The concept of loving and losing and growing older with that loss and without that love just makes me want to curl up in bed and not get out for a while. And in the span of one day, so much happiness, sadness, alienation, connection, life, grief, and experience can occur - it makes you wonder how it is we, as humans, don't just explode from all the emotions and feelings we juggle every single day. For those who grieve the loss of a loved one, take that previous statement and multiply it by about a gazillion. Life is a truly amazing and funny experience, that how-do-we-do-it? of it all. This story takes place, as previously stated, in the course of one day. It's a short book, and it reads quickly. But it is so jam-packed full of beauty that I will find it hard to forget this one. Sometimes it's all just about a cheap plastic pencil sharpener.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kimley

    Masks - we all wear them. We've got our work masks and our family masks and our friend masks. Then, try adding to that being a gay man living in the netherworld of not pretending to be straight but also not able to be fully out (the early 1960s). That's a lot of freakin' masks! And it's exhausting. And our hero, George, is tired, tired of the bullshit and hypocrisy. Thankfully, he still has a biting sense of humor and beware if you're on the receiving end of his satirical skewer. But George is a Masks - we all wear them. We've got our work masks and our family masks and our friend masks. Then, try adding to that being a gay man living in the netherworld of not pretending to be straight but also not able to be fully out (the early 1960s). That's a lot of freakin' masks! And it's exhausting. And our hero, George, is tired, tired of the bullshit and hypocrisy. Thankfully, he still has a biting sense of humor and beware if you're on the receiving end of his satirical skewer. But George is also incredibly humane and well aware that we all do things worthy of some serious satirical skewering. There's a sweetness to his bite and I instantly fell in love with George. The story is surprisingly revelatory considering it takes place in only a single 24 hour period in George's life. It's a remarkably rich portrait of a man who has recently lost his lover in an accident and who isn't truly able to grieve because not everyone knows that he is gay and that that hunky man living with him was not , in fact, a "roommate". Through it all George maintains his dignity even while reading Ruskin on the crapper, cursing the neighborhood brats or daydreaming about cute boys on the tennis court while a colleague is trying to have a discussion with him. And even with the masks, George is always essentially true to himself, on guard perhaps but always true. A single man, yes, but also an admirable man.

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