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4.1 out of 5 stars42
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 4 September 2006
I bought this book by chance, interested in the content and by Toibin's reputation. I never expected to be moved to tears. I read the book in three sittings, something I have never done before, simply because I could not put it down. I think I almost fell in love with Richard Garay and I have only ever once before cried when reaching the end of a novel. The subject matter in the final chapter is particularly close to my heart and I will never forget the emotional journery either in my own life or in the chacters depected here. Thank you for writing this book and portraying real gay characters, not simply laughable, camp shallow characters, and for portraying so poiniantly how two men can fall in love so deeply, the difficulties they can sometimes face coming to terms with their sexuality and the isolation that it can bring. I want to dive back into their lives and share it with them all over again. I am profoundly moved.
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on 17 March 2006
I found this quite by chance and probably wouldn't have bought it if I'd been aware of the content. It deals with the coming of age of a young gay man in the Argentina of the generals in the 1980's.
From the very beginning I was absolutely gripped by Toibin's wonderfully straight-forward and honest narrative. I absolutely love the way his characters say real things, are realistically unable to express outwardly whats going on inside them, though Toibin manages to convey their inner lives to the reader. One thing I've found in all of Toibin's novels that I've subsequently read, is that its impossible to dislike ANY of his characters, because he observes them with a marvelously humane dispassion. I love this writer, he's totally incapable of writing a bad novel.
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on 23 May 2008
Richard/Ricardo discovers his identity at a time of great unrest in Argentina during the reign of the Generals and the Falklands war and before the AIDS crisis.

Following the death of his staunchly patriotic English mother, Richard finds himself alone and finding solace with men he encounters on streets and in saunas. After quitting his job as an English teacher, his Anglo-Argentinean language skills come in useful as he is introduced into the world of Americans, politics, business men and corruption. This leads him to meet the elusive but alluring Pablo, brother of Jorge - Richard's friend and English student.

Erotic but never vulgar, the story that ensues is predictable but written in a succinct and realistic style, efficiently portraying the fear and desolation that many gay men must have felt during the 80's.

It is important to bear in mind that this title was first published in 1997 so is a relatively old book and, for some, may not have the same impact that it did at the time.

The group was divided with its appraisal but, worryingly, everyone agreed the middle third of the book could have been omitted with little detriment to the overall story! This read may be best suited to someone new to gay fiction who can keep up with the history lesson too.
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on 30 July 2009
this book is really incredibly beautiful and i never knew where it was going next. Toibin writes in a very sparse emotionally muted prose. at first this seems to be quite distancing but as the novel increases in emotional complexity and depth it allows the full depth of the emotions to come through - when one of his characters professes love for another those words resound with all the unspoken meanings of love. in places i was reminded of Graham Greene and his ability to effortlessly tell a story whilst encompassing profound human truths within it.

it is a novel with a very broad scope bringing in life in Argentina in the 80's, Capitalism and Dictatorship. what resonated for me the most though was the telling of a gay man's story in a prose that is so unfussy it gives that life an incredible dignity. there are no apologies or explanations or justifications. instead there is a simple bearing witness and this is where Toibin excels. he does not judge, he simply bears witness to experience and emotion. there were so many parts of Garay's experience that resonated with my own and i felt Toibin had got it spot on. he demonstrates how gay love is often built up in an uncertain situation and the fragility of the characters and their strength is explored with great humanity.

as the novel progressed i found myself really caring for the characters and becoming worried as to how Toibin would treat them. i needn't have worried. the ending is extraordinary - completely rooted in difficult reality and a testament to the wonder that lies in us all.

this story of a human who moves from a withdrawn state to an opening of who he is is what, in the end, makes this novel so satisfying.

the only question for me is why Toibin isn't so well known in the gay community as, i feel, he stands head and shoulders above the other more celebrated authors. he really deserves more recognition and thanks.
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on 22 December 2005
A superb novel - the author's style is so pared-down as to be almost minimalist, but he paints vivid pictures and characters through very controlled structures. I found it to be a very erotic novel, in the deepest sense of that word's meaning, and also rather sinister. The last chapter, with its portrayal of tenderness and love, moved me to tears. Definitely not a paperback to throw away - this is one I shall keep and re-read in a year or so's time.
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on 16 December 2008
I have never written a review before , so perhaps the fact I have made the effort says all there is to be said.
Like for others who have read this book, it was almost impossible to put down, and I read it in a day. The narrative is so honest and fresh , so unpretentious . I shall keep my copy safely. I don't think I will ever be able to forget this book ( not a bad thing ! )It was like getting up after an incredible film and feeling affected by it , not being able to get it out of your mind. !!
Colm has a talent so very few writers can match . More please !
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on 11 January 2010
I'm gutted I didn't discover Toibin sooner - this was an amazing book, with incredible characters and a story that pulled me right in from the start. I felt these to be some of the most believable gay characters I've ever encountered in a novel, yet at the same time the fact that they were gay seemed almost secondary to their personalities, their failings and the way things eventually play out. This is true of the setting of 1980s Argentina as well. Although it definitely does colour the plot, as with the characters themselves the humanness of the story would have been equally gripping even in a less interesting backdrop. As I neared the end I found myself hoping beyond reason for a particular outcome that seemed less and less likely, almost as one would for actual living friends or family.

Highly recommended.
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on 5 November 2008
I really don't know what I can add in review of this book, which hasn't already been said by the other reviewers - I was caught up in this wonderful novel from the outset, feeling somehow that the character of Richard got inside my head and I needed to - simply must - find out where he was going.

The story sweeps along through the Falklands war and the economic fallout which effected Argentina, through the changing 80's and ultimately leads to loss, as HIV & AIDS comes to the fore of the gay community.

The book was strange in the fact that nothing really happened and, only the final third of the story, picked up any pace. The rest of the book was told slowly, as if uncoiling. Nothing really happened and, yet, I couldn't stop reading.

The character of Richard is both gentle and yet powerful, his relationship with his mother develops further meaning the deeper you read and his partnership with Pablo touching and real, moving from initial lust through to genuine kinship.

I cannot rate this book highly enough - its definately 'a keeper' (ie. one to keep on the shelf and look forward to enjoying again in the future). This will not disappoint!
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on 1 November 2009
I borrowed The Story of the Night from a friend, having previously read Blackwater Lightship and Heather Blazing by Colm Toibin. I wasn't aware that the book had a gay theme, but I found myself hooked from the first page. The narrative, set in Argentina in the 1980s and following the life of a gay man, Richard Garay, has such a ring of truth about it that it's difficult to believe it wasn't born of personal experience. I just can't grasp how something so vividly alive and true-to-life could be the product of someone's imagination. The central characters, Richard and Pablo, are very three-dimensional and I found that I cared more and more about them and their fate as the story progressed. I confess I shed a tear as I finished reading - something I haven't done in a long time!

To my mind, Toibin is a genius - I've ordered a hardback copy from Amazon and I know I will revisit The Story of the Night in the months and years ahead. Do read this book, it's completely compelling - I guarantee you wont easily forget it.
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on 9 January 2012
I had received this book as a gift, but had put off reading it for a number of months. I thought it looked dreary, and the synopsis sounded a bit done-to-death. Gay man lives alone with his Mother and has trouble coming out, is unhappy in his job... Yawn. I begrudgingly picked it up, and read it in less than a week. I could not put it down and now feel that I can hardly survive without having it to look forward to read.
I have not been so interested in, and eager to follow the exploits of a protagonist since reading The Catcher in the Rye back when I was doing my GCSE English many years ago.
I found this book so easy to read, constantly gripping - inducing anxiety, constantly surprising. I loved following Richard around, and catching up with all the things he was doing in his life. I was particularly interested in his approach to fitting in and how effortlessly he seemed to adapt to being a gay man in a world where homosexuality was not so openly expressed in day to day life.
I was so thrilled when he got together with the gentleman in the third part of the book, and think this made me as happy as it did him. It was at around 80 pages to go that I remembered that the book would have to end, and that there was a high probability that things would begin to decline for my hero. However, as endings go, I think I was spared the full potential of terrible tragedy, and managed to find some relief that there was a little if not dulled silver lining to the cloudy end.
This book has given me a great deal of pleasure and I recommend it to anyone interested in giving it a go.
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