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Love and Death on Long Island [Paperback]

Gilbert Adair
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 1997
A wealthy and renowned author in his middle fifties becomes obsessed with a young American star. One afternoon, a series of seemingly unrelated and insignificant irritants contrives to destroy his cool, Olympian existence and he is forced to confront a long dormant truth about his nature.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Minerva; New edition edition (April 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0749336366
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749336363
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 460,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and disturbing. 27 Feb 2010
By Steve
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is indeed 'Death in Venice' revisited. A late middle-aged widower, a respected author of elite fiction, makes an unprecedented visit to a cinema, goes to see the wrong film and is immediately captivated by one of the film's young American actors. Captivated and, increasingly, obsessed: secretly buying teen movie magazines and reading and re-reading the bland articles, cutting out photographs, kissing them - and more. Eventually, his obsession takes him to America and a meeting with the actor, and a pathetically awful denouement.
This is an uncomfortable book. It is written in the first person and brilliantly portrays the pedantic, solitary life of the narrator, the self-aware subterfuge by which he begins his quest for his hero and the final unravelling in which all self-awareness has disappeared.
The happy picture portrayed on the cover is a far cry from the reality of this dark book in which the path to humiliating tragedy is all too clear from the first.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tremendous - very clever & pretty poignant... 7 Jun 2001
Format:Paperback
Very hard to say anything without giving a lot away. Imagine a first-person Death in Venice, updated to Long Island, and you're along the right lines. A real pleasure to read a profound, believable and really intelligent "gay" novel, which is also deeply moving.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Love in a Life 1 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback
Gilbert Adair, Love and Death on Long Island

This fictional memoir of a love affair between a defunct ageing writer and Ronnie Bostock, a handsome young actor is an engaging study of an obsession bordering on madness. The reader soon realises that the sophisticated and highly articulate narrator has nothing in common with the rising star, a young pin-up whose image appears on sundry teen magazines as a role model. In fact Ronnie's picture on the stills outside a Hampstead cinema becomes the seed of a monstrous passion that drives the narrator to fly to Long Island to meet his love object.

This short novel is beautifully paced, as the narrator intellectualises his physical yearning for the boy: `Was I alone in tracing beneath the conventional surface a timeless and universal ideal, an almost supernatural radiance of pure heart, of innocent spirit and of sun-inflamed flesh?' The details about the youth's ripe redness of the lower lip, the way he wiped sweat from his brow and even `the inside cup of his elbow' show how far the obsession has gone, but we are as yet only a third of the way through the book; the pair have yet to meet, and, although Ronnie knows nothing of his latest fan, a meeting is inevitable.

The style Adair adopts is deliberately pedantic and meticulous. In some sentences the distance between subject and eventual object can exceed 50 words. Precision and accuracy are essential to the narrator's fidelity to his feelings. He is the archetypal dilettante, with a sublime contempt for the world around him; the fake and tawdry trappings of the entertainment industry, for instance, allow him ample opportunity for invective, as do the clichés of the press.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Bites 24 April 2012
By Mr. D. James - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Gilbert Adair, Love and Death on Long Island

This fictional memoir of a love affair between a defunct ageing writer and Ronnie Bostock, a handsome young actor is an engaging study of an obsession bordering on madness. The reader soon realises that the sophisticated and highly articulate narrator has nothing in common with the rising star, a young pin-up whose image appears on sundry teen magazines as a role model. In fact Ronnie's picture on the stills outside a Hampstead cinema becomes the seed of a monstrous passion that drives the narrator to fly to Long Island to meet his love object.

This short novel is beautifully paced, as the narrator intellectualises his physical yearning for the boy: `Was I alone in tracing beneath the conventional surface a timeless and universal ideal, an almost supernatural radiance of pure heart, of innocent spirit and of sun-inflamed flesh?' The details about the youth's ripe redness of the lower lip, the way he wiped sweat from his brow and even `the inside cup of his elbow' show how far the obsession has gone, but we are as yet only a third of the way through the book; the pair have yet to meet, and, although Ronnie knows nothing of his latest fan, a meeting is inevitable.

The style Adair adopts is deliberately pedantic and meticulous. In some sentences the distance between subject and eventual object can exceed 50 words. Precision and accuracy are essential to the narrator's fidelity to his feelings. He is the archetypal dilettante, with a sublime contempt for the world around him; the fake and tawdry trappings of the entertainment industry, for instance, allow him ample opportunity for invective, as do the clichés of the press. Yet when the banalities of gossip columnists are lavished on Ronnie, the lover is delighted: `that he would kiss a girl on their first date "only if she made it clear she wanted me to" and that his greatest ambition was to play in a movie opposite Madonna. `Had he ever been in love? "Who hasn't?" Pet hate? `Designer stubble.' And his secret unspoken fantasy? `To go to bat for the Mets.'

Embracing the mandarin style of a Henry James and the self-referential qualities of a Marcel Proust, Love and Death on Long Island is a classical display of fine writing in miniature format. Overall it's a haunting account of romantic love, the supreme idiocy that flesh is heir to.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine novel by an equally fine critic 24 Jan 2000
By James Palmer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Superb novel, parodying everything from Mann to teen B-movies, but with a tender affection for its main character, sardonic and infatuated novelist Giles De'Ath. Quite different from the (extremely good) movie, with much more time spent on Giles' life in England and less on his adventures in the US. Marvellous over-elaborated style, too.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant 23 July 2000
By tamara thompson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A brilliantly witty and beautifully written short novel. Comparable to the prose stylings of a personal favorite, Graham Greene, his prose is eloquent and romantic. Adair proves himself as a wordsmith of the highest order, possessing an encyclopedic knowledge of the english language. I only wonder why a writer of his caliber lacks the publicity and popularity of his more noted literary confreres.
3.0 out of 5 stars NOT FOR ALL TASTES 21 May 2012
By David Schauweker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The main character, Giles De'Ath, reminds me of the prissy, rich uncle played by Clifton Webb in the original film version of W. Somerset Maugham's "The Razor's Edge": hilarious on short acquaintence, but likely to prove tiresome in the long, as De'ath proved to be, at least to my mind. I'm adding isolated eccentrics to my list of those, like drunks and crazy people, whom I feel make uninteresting protagonists.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never mind the width, feel the quality 30 Jun 2000
By Bevan Lee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
What a small gem! Only 137 pages, but a rich and full journey into the mind of a closeted academic as he works his way through an infatuation with vacuous teen idol Ronny Bostock. Gilbert De'Ath's encounters with the modern world in the form of multiplex cinemas, teenage fanzines, video recorders, pulp cinema and Pakistani newsagents is both hilarious and touching. A vast improvement on the somewhat lacklustre screen treatment.
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