- Hardcover: 448 pages
- Publisher: William Heinemann Ltd (6 April 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0434011142
- ISBN-13: 978-0434011148
- Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 3.7 x 22.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,061,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Perfect Man Hardcover – 6 Apr 2006
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Like most good novels The Perfect Man succeeds because its so impeccably well written. Murrs characterisations are often elegantly succinct -- Lionel Shriver, Financial Times, April 24, 2006
Murr reveals a small-town legacy of brutality, passion and vulnerability that lingers in the mind like an obsession -- Laurence Wareing, The Glasgow Herald, 25 March 2006
"The Perfect Man" explores the power - both destructive and liberating - of what is not told, of the secrets that can shape us more profoundly than everything we believe to be true. Rajiv Travers, the child of an Indian mother and English father, is abandoned first to relatives in London and later to the care of his uncle's mistress, Ruth Winters, who lives in a small American town. Beginning with Ruth, a remote figure who writes romance novels filled with perfect men, this town turns out to be as exotic and strange to Rajiv as he is to its inhabitants. But Rajiv, though always an outsider, finds love when he is befriended by four of the town's children. As the children grow older, their friendship becomes increasingly intense, and is complicated not only by desire and shifting loyalties, but also by the personal failings - and secrets - of the adults around them. One secret in particular is masked by silence: the mystery surrounding the death, years before Rajiv's arrival, of an autistic child. When the silence breaks, the violence, anger, and madness that erupts costs one of Rajiv's friends the chance for any real future.As Rajiv tries to establish his place in a town besieged by what cannot be spoken, some of the people he encounters fail utterly in their humanity, bringing about horrific consequences. Others, like Ruth - and Rajiv himself - though hardly perfect, at least struggle to understand and accept not only what love gives, but what it exacts. See all Product description
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I loved the way in which the author made all his characters so alive and real , it might be a slight pity that so many of them are, to say the least, weird.There's Salvatore, a cowardly and foul-mouthed Italian shopkeeper, his bored and depressed Polish wife and their lovely daughter Annie,who has to bear more than her fair share of trouble,there's frightening reverend Hewitt ,his unloved and sour wife and their mentally disturbed son,there's Nora 's father as creepy as can be, pouncing on his mature-looking growing daughter whenever he has a chance to see her naked and many more variations. It is undeniably cleverly crafted and grips you until the end. It is also very cruel and sometimes unsettling.
The story follows the life of Raj, a boy born in the early 1940s, who has an Indian mother and an English father. Raj is deposited by his emotionally useless father first with his paternal uncle's family in England, and later entrusted to the care of the girlfriend of another paternal uncle in a small town in the USA. Much of the novel is taken up with Raj's childhood and friendships, and this part is an engrossing and delightful account of growing up in that era, written with perception and sensitivity. It sweeps the reader up into the achingly real milestones of life and holds them transfixed through the gamut of passions, tragedies and achievements that define any childhood. Raj has to deal with the petty prejudices of some of the small minded residents around him, but the story never becomes bogged down by the issue of race, and Raj is as unchippy and charming a child as you could hope to read about.
The evocation of small town life in the 1950s is saved from becoming cloyingly sweet by the undercurrents of sinister occurrences that are present in tandem with the easy community and unlocked doors in any parochial setting. A group of redneck residents swagger with macho bravado in the background. An unexplained murder years before Raj's arrival remains unsolved. Ostensibly chirpy nuclear families have their own troubles and secrets. As with life, the strong survive while some of the vulnerable crack.
Murr is a versatile writer; he can bring characters to life with a few choice words and can also conjure up the paradoxical feelings that can coexist in people: his characters are complex and sometimes inexplicable, the echos of their past experiences partly explaining their idiosyncrasies, just as in real life.
I give this book an unequivocal and would say that anyone who loved Black Swan Green by David Mitchell or The Little Friend by Donna Tartt will be blown away by The Perfect Man.
Pisgah, Missouri, provides a Southern Gothic setting in which author Naeem Murr explores the essence of selfhood. The sense of isolation, the difficulties (or, sometimes, impossibilities) of communication, the role of sex, and issues of power and control, perennial problems for the teenagers, are also problems for the adults in Pisgah as well. Everyone has secrets, some of them secrets which are guaranteed to be kept because they include evil activities in which an entire group has participated.
Murr, who has previously focused on dark psychological aberrations in his novel The Boy, creates a cauldron of activity here in which the adolescents try to survive the perils they face on a daily basis. The characters, while darker and, in many cases, more damaged than what we usually call "normal," come to life as their individual backgrounds and the backgrounds of their families are revealed. Rajiv, the main character, has no past in Pisgah, and his reactions to what he is seeing, hearing, feeling, and guessing guide the reader to an understanding of Murr's themes.
As the narrative switches back and forth in time, horrors unfold and mysteries get solved. Pisgah reveals itself to be a microcosm of life's trials, almost on a par with Dante's nine circles of hell. Filled with mystery and the traumas of adolescence, the book has a broader focus than a mere coming-of-age. In a sense all of humanity is on trial in Pisgah. Remarkably, some of the teenagers manage to put their lives in order and triumph, despite having faced seemingly insuperable odds, and the book is ultimately a celebration of the human spirit. Mary Whipple
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