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OXYGEN by Andrew Miller

OXYGEN (original 2001; edition 2001)

by Andrew Miller

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380None28,195 (3.18)6
Authors:Andrew Miller
Info:Harcourt, Inc., New York (2001), Edition: First edition., Hardcover
Collections:Your library

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Oxygen by Andrew Miller (2001)



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Miller effortlessly writes some of the most aesthetic descriptions I've read in a while without bogging down the narrative. ( )
  David_Berlin | Apr 27, 2011 |
This literary novel was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and it’s easy to see why. Four interrelated characters, each facing a personal transition, struggles to find his or her way. Through separate first-person narratives, we come to know each one and the subtle and interesting ways that they know each other and the people closest to them. Alice is facing death as her grown but rootless sons struggle to understand who is the Loser and who the Winner in the family circle. Far away in Paris, a Hungarian artist struggles to free himself from the guilt of his wartime past. Each character is beautifully and sensitively drawn, and each journey is ultimately hopeful, but best of all, these people are capable of surprising themselves, their loved ones and the reader. ( )
  kambrogi | Nov 18, 2010 |
Alice is dying and her two sons come to stay. One son is a faded Hollywood success, the other is struggling to work on a translation of a play. These characters are separate and lonely within the family. This story is linked to that of Lazlo, a Hungarian playwright. All the characters are looking for redemption. ( )
  Tifi | Jun 25, 2010 |
Andrew Miller, I think, is less assured in this contemporary setting. Although I enjoyed Oxygen, it doesn't quite reach the heights of his two historical novels - Ingenious Pain and Casanova. The oxygen of the title is recurring theme - Alice is dying and dependent on her oxygen supply, her son Alec is translating a play called Oxygen written by an Hungarian called Lazlo Lasar. Larry, her other son is a failed soap star returned from America. Each character is struggling to assert themselves - starved of oxygen. This is still a good read but I would recommend going to Miller's other books first. ( )
  dylanwolf | Apr 4, 2010 |
A matriarch succumbs slowly to cancer, providing a focal point for a family crisis. Miller's account of disparate lives, and how we're all bound by life and tragedy, is coolly dispassionate and well-written, but I found the Hungarian section not very engaging. ( )
  GerhardH | Mar 3, 2010 |
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The Dream Catcher, an artifact made on the reservations of Native Americans and sold to the souvenir shops there for little money, was a circle the size of a man's palm, formed from some pliant wood and then banded with a leather thong.
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Book description
In the summer of 1997, four people reach a turning point: Alice Valentine, who lies gravely ill in her West Country home; her two sons, one still searching for a sense of direction, the other fighting to keep his acting career and marriage afloat; and Laszlo Lazar, who leads a comfortable life in Paris yet is plagued by his memories of the 1956 Hungarian uprising. For each, the time has come to assess what matters in life, and all will be forced to take part in an act of liberation - though not necessarily the one foreseen.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0340728264, Paperback)

In Andrew Miller's third novel, Oxygen, the award-winning author of Ingenious Pain offers an intense, claustrophobic tale of parallel lives, of regret and redemption.

A family reunion of sorts is underway in the summer of 1997 for Alice, a newly retired, long-widowed schoolteacher, dying of cancer at her home in the English countryside. Gathered at her side are her two sons: Alec, a myopic, indecisive translator, and the more gregarious Larry, an unemployed TV soap star whose glittering U.S. career is about to take a nosedive into the shabby territory of porn films, so he can stave off bankruptcy and hold on to his disintegrating marriage. The counterpoint to this scenario is Laszlo Lazar, Hungarian exile and feted playwright, whose latest work, Oxygen, Alec is translating. Lazar, who has a comfortable existence in one of the more fashionable Paris quartiers, seems to possess everything that Alec does not: critical success, a loving partner, a longstanding circle of artistic friends. Yet Lazar is tormented by memories of the 1956 uprising and a comrade he feels he betrayed. When a political splinter group asks him to undertake a mysterious mission, he seizes his chance to atone for the past.

Shifting between a quintessentially English idyll, the carousing bars of Paris, the physical and emotional aridity of California, and a Budapest of the past and present, Miller skillfully evokes his characters' stories and their common theme--the liberation of self--even if the end result is self-destruction. He writes compassionately of the terminally ill Alice, clinging to the last vestiges of life, the last agonizing breath: "Was that the last to go? Certain gestures, reflexes, a way of cocking the head or moving the hands in speech?" He reminds us that human beings have choices, even in despair, and he provides a suitably ambiguous ending to round off a wise and engrossing novel. --Catherine Taylor, Amazon.co.uk

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:29 -0400)

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"It is the summer of 1997. In England, Alec Valentine is on his way home to care for his ailing mother, Alice, a task that only reinforces his deep sense of inadequacy. In San Francisco, his older brother Larry prepares to return as well, knowing it will be hard to conceal that his acting career is sliding toward sleaze and his marriage is faltering. In Paris, on the other hand, the Hungarian exile Laszlo Lazar, whose play Alec is translating, seems to have it all - a comfortable home, critical acclaim, a loving boyfriend, and a close circle of friends. Yet he cannot shake off memories of the 1956 uprising and the cry for help he left unanswered. As these memorable characters soon learn, the moment has come to assess the turns taken and the opportunities missed. For each of them will soon take part in acts of liberation, even if those acts are not necessarily what they might have expected."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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