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Be Near Me Paperback – 5 Apr 2007

32 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (5 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571216048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571216048
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 175,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"'One of the few truly essential works of fiction to emerge from this country during the past 20 years or more.' John Burnside, Daily Telegraph"

Book Description

Longlisted for the Booker Prize, Andrew O'Hagan's Be Near Me is a brilliantly moving story of art and politics, love and change, and the way we live now.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Jimmy on 16 Aug. 2006
Format: Hardcover
I've liked O'Hagan's writing ever since The Missing and have followed his progress with interest. This new book, which I read in two sittings, is less brutal and 'Scottish' than Our Fathers (I suppose it's more 'accessible,' whatever that means), is - at first glance - less pyrotechnical than Personality, and is by far his best work. There isn't a word out of place. The narrative is like a tightned string. The language and imagery are stunning - one review I read called him a prose poet, and I think that's right. But above all, the generosity of the writing, and the refusal to judge or condemn, are something that will stay with me for a long time. I haven't thought so much about a book for years: is O'Hagan's central character a sort of holy innocent, or deeply flawed, or a narcisstic monster, or just careless? I think he is probably all four. One of the strengths of the book is that it causes you to think deeply about subjects to which it is easy to have a knee-jerk response.

Be Near Me is about a priest, Father David, and about his relationships, including one with a 15-year-old boy. But that's to simplify things - really it's about the nature of love, faith, beauty, and morality. I couldn't recommend it highly enough. It is a stunning achievement.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Young Offender on 18 Sept. 2006
Format: Hardcover
This year's Booker shortlist must be pretty stunning it if could afford to ignore a novel this good. Then again, it seems that the criteria may have changed - Chair of the Judges, Hermione Lee, explained that 'names' like O'Hagan were absent because 'they don't need us'. Hang on - so this is no longer a prize for the best novel (wherever its place in an author's career), just a patronizing leg-up for the unfamilar? John Banville and Alan Hollinghurst hardly 'needed' the prize in that sense.

Anyway, this is a very fine piece of work. It grapples with 'ideas' (particularly the failure of socialist principles), but it's the emotional core of the book that hooks. Father David's incremental, unwitting seduction (by Mark? of Mark?) is painfully believable, snared by beauty and passion in a place where there is precious little of either. That's not to say that the intellectual drive of the novel is something quite separate: I take O'Hagan to be suggesting (a bit like Conrad) that in a world where so much is hopelessly 'irremediable', it's only at the most microscopic level - the offering of friendship - that one can hope to do good. This is not a failure of courage or ambition. O'Hagan is a master of character - even the most minor players are given full life in the space of a few lines of dialogue - and his writing has both dazzle and depth. I had him down for a journalist who wrote fiction on the side, but this puts him right up there with the best British novelists.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mingo Bingo VINE VOICE on 5 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
O'Hagan's Booker listed novel follows the downfall of Father David Anderton. Haunted by a tragic relationship at university he takes over a parish in a remote Ayrshire post-industrial town.

Although born in Scotland Anderton spent much of his life in England and his pompous manner and lack of accent causes distrust amongst the locals. Cared for by his busybody housekeeper Mrs Poole, Anderton listens to music, reads books and in the opinion of his flock neglects his duties.

When teaching a the local school he makes friends with a young couple and sees it as his duty to save/educate them. And it is here that the novel loses some of it's credibility. Anderton is seduced by their rough and ready nature, but this seems at odds with his own character and when he ends up taking ecstacy with the young boy he mistakes friendship for something else and kisses him,

What happens next is right out of News of the World; the disgraced priest is abandoned by the church, insults are painted on his door and the town predictably turns against him.

While the writing is excellent the characterisation is less so. The children are one dimensional chavs and the back story that is intended to explain Anderton's action doesn't quite work. Much of Anderton's actions are against the character that has been created for him by O'Hagan and the reader is left with a feeling that Anderton has brought it all on himself. This could be read as someone tragically falling on his sword, but it just doesn't seem right. Anderton's refusal to admit that he has done any wrong feels inexplicable given his past and as a reader I just felt confused by his motives.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Dwight Braxton on 3 Oct. 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this to be a book of three parts. In the first, O'Hagan introduces us to the main character and narrator, Fr David Anderton, and provides an introduction to his background, his childhood, and his coming to Scotland - including a very real account of the religious bigotry experienced by Fr David at first hand. So far so good, with the narrative building well and the characters taking shape. The middle third, however, was spoiled for me simply because I found that the events depicted - a scholarly and cultured English priest aged 57 running around in the middle of the night in stolen cars, popping Es and drinking cider with a group of juvenile delinquents - were just not credible. The young people themselves also came across as one-dimensional caricatures introduced to prop up a lame narrative, almost like escapees from something by Irvine Welsh. By all means, O'Hagan could have produced a fine novel centred on a priest who falls for a young man and suffers the consequences - but I felt that this could have been treated by a more slow-burn approach involving something more believable, rather than the way the story actually plays out. And then the final third, dealing with topics of death, rebirth, and self-recognition, is exquisite and beautifully narrated.

I was disappointed by this book - a writer as gifted as O'Hagan should have done better and I think he spoiled it (and his MAN Booker chances) by creating a middle section which simply stretches credibility. And one other thing - I didn't think that the feelings recounted by the narrator reflected what a real gay man would have said - I'd be fascinated to hear what someone like Colm Toibin would make of this. Worth a read, all the same.
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