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An Available Man: A Novel by Hilma Wolitzer

An Available Man: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Hilma Wolitzer

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3086754,292 (3.67)38
Title:An Available Man: A Novel
Authors:Hilma Wolitzer
Info:Ballantine Books (2012), Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library

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An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer


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Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
I read this in preparation for interviewing Meg Wolitzer about her new novel. I'd never read any of her mother's adult fiction. This is a lovely and funny novel about a man entering back into dating after his wife passes away. Not stickily sweet, but lots of charm and humour. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Feb 19, 2018 |
In this short novel, private-school science teacher Edward Schuyler loses wife Bea to pancreatic cancer. When his stepchildren decide he should move on with life, they place a personal ad on his behalf in the New York Review of Books, and he starts dating in a desultory way.

This sounds like a funny premise, but it isn't played for laughs, or if it is, it didn't make me laugh. It is inoffensive, and for me dull as dishwater. The plot is barely there, and only someone who has never read a love story or seen a rom-com movie would not foresee which of the various romantic candidates Edward would end up with, from the first introduction of the character. I didn't find the examination of bereavement deep or interesting. I was annoyed with the author's complete lack of interest in her characters' class privilege. This private-school teacher lives in an expensive town and vacations on Marth's Vineyard. I was curious how he could afford such a lifestyle, but it wasn't even examined. ( )
  CasualFriday | Mar 29, 2015 |
I am 64 years old and happily married, just like Edward Schuyler was before Pancreatic Cancer took his wife, Bee. Although I don't share the grief the widower experiences, I can imagine the horror of facing life alone after years of sharing it with the person you love. But the fact that Edward's situation scares me, didn't stop me from enjoying An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer. It didn't hurt that an important scene took place at the Cloisters, one of my favorite places in New York.

This book is about grief, but with a focus on Edward's recovery from the tragedy. Bee is gone before the novel starts. Here are the first two paragraphs:

Edward Schuyler was ironing his oldest blue oxford shirt in the living room on a Saturday afternoon when the first telephone call came. He'd taken up ironing a few months before, not long after his wife, Bee, had died. That happened in early summer, when school was out, and he couldn't concentrate on anything besides his grief and longing. He had thought of it then as a way of reconnecting with her when she was so irrevocably gone, when he couldn't even will her into his dreams.

And she did come back in a rush of disordered memories as he stood at the ironing board. But he had no control over what he remembered, sometimes seeing her when they first met, or years later in her flowered chintz chair across the room, talking on the telephone and kneading the dog's belly with her bare feet – Bee called it multitasking – or in the last days of her life, pausing so long between breaths that he found himself holding his own breath until she began again.

Edward's step children place a personal ad for him, in the New York Review of Books. The ad changes his life as he starts to meet eligible women.

This novel has been called humorous by some reviewers, and there were parts that made me laugh out loud, but for most of the book I simply smiled. It's about relationships and the way people of both genders think with their hearts and their genitals as well as their minds. It's about step children and friends of a deceased partner. But mostly its about moving forward after life deals you a horrible blow.

Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions ( )
  SteveLindahl | Nov 8, 2014 |
This is definitely not my usual reading fare, and in fact I am not sure why I chose this book. Maybe it had something to do with having just had a root canal and needing something very light to read on a holiday weekend. Plus I think Amazon offered it as a Kindle special when I picked it up. It wasn't bad, just not particularly memorable. It's the story of Edward Schulyer, a recent widower, and his reintroduction into and resistance towards dating. As "an available man," it's not long before the sixtyish Edward starts getting calls from women he doesn't even know and his friends start trying to set him up. His stepchildren even place a personal ad in the New York Review of Books ("SCIENCE GUY. Balding but still handsome . . . "). The rest of the story is pretty much what you might expect. Edward initially resists dating any of the women who have responded to the ad but, lonely and curious, ends up giving in, with disastrous results. The one compatible woman he meets on his own . . . well, that ends up not working out well either. Then there is the former fiancee who left him at the alter decades ago. But never fear, love wins out in the end (of course). I will give Wolitzer credit for creating a sympathetic, likable character in Edward and for giving us what would seem to be a pretty good portrait of widowhood from a man's point of view. ( )
1 vote Cariola | Jul 4, 2014 |
Hilma Wolitzer has written a charming book about middle aged love and loss from the male point of view. Edward Schuyler is down-to-earth, average man character who is easy to root for. His story is told realistically with humor, sadness, hopefulness, and melancholy. This is an enjoyable read, and I recommend it. ( )
  JoStARs | Jun 15, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
In the opening lines of Hilma Wolitzer’s wonderful new novel, the recently widowed Edward Schuyler stands in his living room, ironing, when the telephone rings. He picks it up to hear the clamorous, intrusive voice of a female suitor, attempting to break in on his grief. But he’d rather iron the blouses of his deceased wife, Bee, “as a way of reconnecting with her when she was so irrevocably gone” than date any of the women now scurrying in his direction. Bee, on her deathbed, had predicted this fate: “Look at you. They’ll be crawling out of the woodwork.”.... As dark as this material might sound, it isn’t. Wolitzer’s vision of the world, for all its sorrow, is often hilarious and always compassionate. Her novels are social comedies: they may feature jiltings, separations and bereavement, but they tend to have happy endings.
As she has demonstrated in earlier books like Summer Reading and The Doctor's Daughter, Wolitzer is a champ at the closely observed, droll novel of manners, while also recognizing that — for both her characters and her readers — there's more at stake than laughs in the situations she depicts. An Available Man chronicles Edward's clumsy adventures in, as one character puts it, "Dating After Death"; but it also goes further emotionally, evoking the swampy stages of grief and the raw loneliness that haunts Edward, as well as all those women circling him.

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Hilma Wolitzerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Braun, AnneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Henry Dunow, a most available agent and friend
First words
Edward Schuyler was ironing his oldest blue oxford shirt in the living room on a Saturday afternoon when the first telephone call came.
You wear your genitals on the outside and your feelings on the inside – the exact opposite of women.
The recently dead were such a social menace. Their absence was as aggressive as the loudest voice in a room. You could not speak of them without sorrow, or ignore them without shame and even trepidation. They ruined the natural flow of conversation and the pleasurable balance of coupledom.
…reading seemed to him like the last stronghold of privacy in a group-crazed society.
It’s just that you should choose someone to spend your life with who’s likely to wear well, someone kind and with a sense of humor.
Edward was glad he’d left the bottle in the car. He’d be damned if he’d break out good champagne for a French poodle.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345527542, Hardcover)

Mary Gordon Reviews An Available Man

Mary Gordon is the author of six previous novels, two memoirs, a short-story collection, and Reading Jesus, a work of nonfiction. She has received many honors, among them a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an O. Henry Award, an Academy Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Story Prize. She is the State Writer of New York. Gordon teaches at Barnard College and lives in New York City.

A widower in his sixties: healthy, solvent, with almost all his hair. Potentially a subject for satire or impatient, knowing ironies. But Edward Schuyler doesn't get this harsh treatment from Hilma Wolitzer. An Available Man is a triumph of tender observation: wry, compassionate, literate, and often very very funny.

Edward Schuyler, a devoted high school science teacher, finds himself radically bereft when his beloved wife, Bee, dies after a painful illness. With great delicacy, Wolitzer limns the outlines of the paralyzing grief that accompanies the loss of a great love.

But the world has a limited appetite for extended grief. Everyone urges him to move on--and by moving on they mean dating. His step-children, who are devoted to him, place an ad in the New York Review of Books. The results of this ad are the occasion for Wolitzer’s most delicious observations. "'Sensual, smart, stunning, sensitive.' Oh, why do they always resort to alliteration...This one's a music lover? Well, who doesn't like music, besides the Taliban? 'Searching for that special someone to share Bach, Brecht, and breakfast.' When they’ll probably eat bagels, bacon, and brussels sprouts."

Some of the book's most searingly poignant moments trace the darker side of mature matchmaking (maybe alliteration's catching.) There is the grieving widow whose house is a shrine to her dead husband...and whose life is a living mausoleum. There is the seventy-something plastic surgery addict who confesses to a desperate search for an impossibly vanished youth. And then there is Edward's former love, who left him at the altar, who turns out to be...well, still crazy after all these years.

The richness of the book can be accounted for in no small part, however, by Wolitzer's evocation of the mixture of emptiness and fullness that is Edward's life. He has his students, he's a birder, he has friends, he's a devoted stepfather...and the owner of an increasingly ailing, aging dog.

We never fail to root for Edward, and we and he are both rewarded by a sweet and satisfying end: a well earned coda to a novel that sheds a lovely, sometimes bittersweet, but finally hopeful light on one of the important ways we live now.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:33 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

When Edward Schuyler, a modest and bookish sixty-two-year-old science teacher, is widowed, he finds himself ambushed by female attention. There are plenty of unattached women around, but a healthy, handsome, available man is a rare and desirable creature. Edward receives phone calls from widows seeking love, or at least lunch, while well-meaning friends try to set him up at dinner parties. Even an attractive married neighbor offers herself to him. The problem is that Edward doesn't feel available. He's still mourning his beloved wife, Bee, and prefers solitude and the familiar routine of work, gardening, and bird-watching. But then his stepchildren surprise him by placing a personal ad in The New York Review of Books on his behalf."--Provided by publisher. flood in, and Edward is torn between his loyalty to Bee's… (more)

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