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Buenas Noches, Buenos Aires [Paperback]

Gilbert Adair
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: 6.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

3 Mar 2005
Gideon is a lonely, horny young Englishman who arrives in Paris to take up a teaching post in the local Berlitz, and becomes increasingly fascinated by the intoxicating atmosphere of erotic banter and bragging in the school's all-male and virtually all-gay common room. The moment has surely arrived for him, too, to overcome his own chronic timidity and actually do what he has only ever dared fantasize about. Yet Gideon has a secret - one he is prepared to share with nobody but the reader, a secret he is finally obliged to confront, with surprising results.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; New Ed edition (3 Mar 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571206115
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571206117
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 12.6 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,063,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"'It stands with Hemingway or Fitzgerald's depictions of the Jazz Age as a cool yet passionate testament to an age now vanished.' Scotland on Sunday; 'This is a disturbing, brave and very well written book.' Spectator; 'A stylistic tour de force... it is life, not death that this novel affirms.' Sunday Times; 'Adair is a writer of undoubted class and has the gift of sharp portraiture needed to make a picaresque novel sing.' Sunday Telegraph"

About the Author

Gilbert Adair has published novels, essays, translations, children's books and poetry. He has also written screenplays, including The Dreamers from his own novel for Bernardo Bertolucci.

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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars
3.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Having loved Adair's 'A closed book' I was excited to come across another one by him. But this is very much a different beast altogether. On the face of it, the story is about Gideon, a complex character (more on this in a moment) who escapes from Oxford to Paris and takes up a post teaching English at a Berlitz language school. Like him most of the other English language teachers are gay, and he works hard at engineering a role for himself in this group as they brag of their latest sexual conquests. Gideon is not a character that you immediately warm to and this is something that he freely admits he himself can understand (the book is very much written in a confessional autobiographical style).

Unlike 'A closed book' the narrative does not play as strong a role here. This is the story of a moment of recent history rather than that of an individual. Buenas Noches, Buenos Aires transports us back to the early 80s - a time when HIV and Aids were largely unknown and certainly misunderstood. It is hard for us to imagine that time now but it really is not that long ago that Aids was seen as 'the gay plague'. Yet we now live in a different world. It is to Adair's credit that he manages to breathe life into his characters and into this time so expertly.

There were a number of parts in this book that made me smile - particularly when the main character would relate some bon mot that was exchanged in the Berlitz staff room during break time. At times I did wonder if the author was just crowbaring them into the story when a good pun occured to him. But then I realised that relating amusing things that others have said as a way of reflecting positively on himself is something that the main character would be very likely to do.
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Only for the initiated, 21 Mar 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found Adair's latest offering ebmarrassingly self-indulgent and annoyingly whimsical. One shudders to think what the result might be if Bertolucci (to whom the book is dedicated) decided to film it.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love and Death - again 2 Jun 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is possible, I suppose, to miss the cleverness of Gilbert Adair's Buenas Noches Buenos Aires, and dismiss it as crude, banal and filled with unsympathetic characters. But the observant reader will note the clues which demand that we treat the narrator with suspicion, and cast doubt on everything he says, as early as page 2 when he tells us, impossibly, of placing a bookmark between pages 17 and 18 of a book (if you don't see why, try it yourself). Yes, we are in the realms of unreliable narrative and postmodernity, Adair's favourite twins.

As such this novel is his best since 1992's The Death of the Author, and indeed because the cleverness is so well subsumed into the surface story - which is attractive enough in itself - you get two books for the price of one. Adair is a whizz with a neat one-liner ("homosexuality," reflects the narrator, whose initials are also GA, on discussing the anonymous promiscuity and casual contact-making of his 1980s gay milieu, "the love that dare not speak its name, but is more than happy to leave its number") and the more erudite sort of pun (a ribald story is credited to "Onanymous"). Indeed the writing is so good that the content of the book becomes almost secondary.

But the story is interesting too, and unlike many almost-too-clever-by-half writers, Adair delineates his characters effectively and effortlessly. There is even a heartfelt mixture of real comedy and gripping tragedy in one scene, which begins with a tooth falling out and ends with a world, literally ("I use the word 'literally' figuratively, of course" as Adair's narrator would say), falling apart. If the end subject matter is not that surprising - gay life in the 1980s, what do you think is coming next? - then its delivery is: a black comedy, in fact, of a big disease with a little name. And that's before you even consider whether what we're being told is fictionally true, or fictionally false. Figuratively, I mean.
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5 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth a penny... 18 Jan 2006
Mr Adair portrays the less than original English character of Gideon who takes a teaching post at a Berlitz school in Paris in the 1980s. After getting to know the gay scene, Gideon witnesses his acquaintances fall under the spell if the first Aids wave as the result of their wild fornication and libertine banter.
Readers will find very little compassion for any of the characters. The language is crude, the tale banal. Had Mr Adair published his novel 15 years ago, it may have been of interest but unfortunately today, what the author presents as "a true story" in page 1 is completely devoid of originality.
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2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars KILLINGLY FUNNY 4 May 2004
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