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Single Man Paperback – 30 May 2001

4.5 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 186 pages
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press; 1st University of Minnesota Press Ed edition (30 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816638624
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816638628
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.5 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,824,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"The best prose writer in English" (Gore Vidal)

"A virtuoso piece of work...courageous...powerful" (Sunday Times)

"His key post-war work. A quarter-century ahead of its time in its portrayal of a quotidian homosexual life, it inspired a generation of gay writers in Britain and the US" (Independent)

"Lyrical and intensely moving" (Daily Telegraph)

"A testimony to Isherwood's undiminished brilliance as a novelist" (Anthony Burgess) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

His key postwar work. A quarter-century ahead of its time in its portrayal of a quotidian homosexual life, it inspired a generation of gay writers in Britain and the US - Independent This mix of humour and stoicism in the face of pent-up grief is essential Isherwood --Guardian

His own highly personal form of fiction [is one] in which simple sentences strike a note of great intimacy with the reader as if to a close personal friend, and a sense of total honesty is sought. This style, witty, observant, nostalgic, exact, was Isherwood's great contribution to modern literature --Financial Times

He had dazzling talents as a writer. His literary production was pre-eminent for its wit, humour, charm of style and narrative skill... A Single Man can be almost considered as his masterpiece --Guardian, John Lehmann

Very sad and yet at times wildly funny --The Daily Telegraph

An absolutely devastating, unnerving, brilliant book --Stephen Spender

Lyrical and intensely moving --Daily Telegraph --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Isherwood's writing had as many ups and downs as a rollercoaster, which he would have been the first to admit, but this is (I think) the rose amongst the thorns that were his 'middle' books - a sensitive, heart warming and tender depiction of the life of a middle aged, gay male in mid-century America. This was the first of his books I read, and lead me to read all the others.
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By schumann_bg TOP 50 REVIEWER on 25 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback
A Single Man gives as much pleasure as you can get from a novel, I think, as the central figure is engaging - but not too 'nice' to be convincing - and the writing is unfailingly communicative as can only suggest quite a lot of common ground between George and Isherwood himself, even if we know Isherwood didn't lose his lover. The happy gay relationship - again not over-idealised - is here a thing of the past after a fatal accident, and the question the book poses is, how does one find meaning in life in middle-age in these circumstances? The book takes the form of different episodes in his day which have a much more mixed flavour than the Tom Ford film - and there are more of them. He visits a woman dying in hospital, for instance, and goes to a gay-friendly gym. He is also a good ten years older than Colin Firth who played him in the film - Firth was excellent, but the character is again brought closer to an ideal, as is his friend Charlotte. You might say the film is a kind of fantasy where the book is rooted very much in real life, even if the events follow a similar outline, with the marvellous swim in the night sea, drunk, with his student Kenny, followed by a rather less glossed continuation at his house. Another major difference is that there is no mention of suicide in the book - a facet of the film that weakened it somewhat, perhaps tapping into the mood of The Hours ... Where the novel really comes into its own is in the sense of being buoyed up by Isherwood's amazing narrative voice. The opening and close of the book are among the best I have ever read - the latter has a perfectly pitched ambiguity that I couldn't give away, but it taps into the same feeling as the opening and brings full circle a narrative thread that carries infinite humanity on the long fragile line that is any work of prose, even one as great as this, and as succinct at just over 150 pages.
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Format: Audio CD
If you have not read Christopher Isherwood you have missed the work of a brilliant author. This particular book was praised by the NY Times as "...a sad, sly report on the predicament of the human animal." Isherwood's prose is spare, mesmerizing; his words well chosen, succinct, meaningful. Most importantly, his writings are true.

When first published about a half century ago A SINGLE MAN was considered shocking as it portrayed for the first time the life of a gay man, George, who was recently bereaved and trying to adjust to life without his partner. George is a college professor, careful, thoughtful. The all too brief story covers just 24 hours from the moment he awakens in the morning and remembers that he has lost his partner to his studied, sometimes painful navigation of the day.

We are privy not only to his actions but to his thoughts, thus we share his predicament, a very human one. George is an Englishman living in southern California, a place a bit inhospitable to a middle-aged scholar yet he perseveres by observing routine. Haven't many of us found ourselves left with that as our one means of coping? For this reader/listener that is the beauty of Isherwood as A SINGLE MAN is not solely a drama of gay life but of all humanity.

Reader Simon Prebble gives voice to George with understanding, and skillful narration. British born his voice is perfectly suited for this role.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the hugely successful movie version of A SINGLE MAN by Tom Ford - don't miss this. And hearty recommendations also for Isherwood's Christopher and His Kind and Prater Violet also found on audio from HighBridge.

- Gail Cooke
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I told a friend about this book, I said "it's very well written" and she said "Well, der! Isherwood!" and I laughed. But then I've only read Goodbye to Berlin and I was very young then, and didn't know good from bad.

It's possibly one of the most perfect little books I've read, absorbing from the first page and written in such a way that it feels like first person but it's actually written in third, astoundingly clever to my eyes. You get as easily into George's head as if it were first person.

Set over 24 hours, it simply covers his thought processes as he moves through the day and you learn a lot about him and the world in which he lives. From the first section he touches your heart as - as anyone who has suffered bereavement will understand - he wakes up and remembers again that his lover is dead. But he's not pessimistic about his outlook - he doesn't like the way that conservatism is encroaching upon the once bohemian area where he lives - once where there was artists and poets and easy sexual values, families are moving in, with more straight-laced ideals, but in juxtaposition to this, he loves youth.

He teaches at the University and the scenes with the Gidget-era youth are rather sweet and truly give a window into a lost American world. He does watch the athletes for his own enjoyment which was a nice touch.

I loved his optimism, despite how much he missed Jim, and the way that he finds the light and the dark in his life. He interacts with many people throughout the day, he's not at all an isolated person, but I was left feeling that he was spinning on the spot, lonely despite all the people who know and care from him. Without the one intimate friend he needed.
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