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A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

A Single Man (original 1964; edition 2009)

by Christopher Isherwood, Simon Prebble (Reader)

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1,114None7,371 (4.03)60
Title:A Single Man
Authors:Christopher Isherwood
Other authors:Simon Prebble (Reader)
Info:HighBridge Company (2009), Edition: Unabridged; 4.75 hours on 4 CDs, Audio CD
Collections:Your library, To read

Work details

A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood (Author) (1964)

1960s (19) 2010 (8) 2011 (9) 20th century (26) aging (8) America (12) British (15) British literature (12) California (24) death (8) English literature (12) fiction (179) gay (65) Gay Fiction (28) gay men (13) glbt (10) grief (28) homosexuality (23) lgbt (14) LGBTQ (10) literature (19) Los Angeles (16) loss (13) novel (34) queer (12) read (8) relationships (16) sexuality (12) to-read (28) USA (14)

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Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
This is a very short book. It takes the reader into the life over a 24 hour period of the main characters life after the death of his partner. A great representation of the normalcy of gay relationships and the grieving process in general. I haven't seen the movie yet. ( )
  bibliophile_pgh | Dec 29, 2013 |
I read the book and watched the film simultaneously for a film theory class. Every little piece of both media were taken a part and looked at. That's not just to say I didn't enjoy either as much as I would have had I read and watched them on my own. It was a lot of work, but well worth it for a great book and beautiful film.

If this is your first Isherwood novel, you might think it's amazing--amazingly honest, amazingly forward, amazingly foreign. And then you pick up his other works and find similar narration, style, observations, POVs, etc. He does what he does best and that's bringing this sense of being an other to everyday life events that are often taken granted by everyone else that society includes. That's what I like about his stories. That and the fact that you never forget that he's an Englishman bumbling around in the West Coast. ( )
  1stavenue | Sep 20, 2013 |
In 1963 George is getting through another day in Los Angeles, as he starts to recover from the death of his partner, Jim.

Excellent descriptions of the sheer physicality of being human shared by even the most intellectually-minded of us. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Sep 20, 2013 |
It’s not so many days since I returned from the holiday I read this on, and already great chunks of the plot are disappearing from my mind like the coat tails of a dream you can’t quite grasp in the morning. It started with the protagonist, ageing homosexual lecturer George (I remembered that bit) waking up and not being totally sure who he was. It was an effective rendering of those confusing first few moments after the alarm clock goes off, and we see him as though from above, as he gets a grip on who he is and where he is. And though we then get to follow him through his day, I never did lose the detachment of those first few paragraphs. The novel is short, the encounters he has with various acquaintances are fleeting, and there is the feeling that none of them are going to reappear so why invest anything in remembering them. And in the end very few of them do reappear.

It wasn’t badly written, but unless there was some underlying metaphor running through the whole thing that I missed, I can’t see what the point was. I might have to watch the film one day, if only to discover whether there really was a plot lurking in there, just outside the field of my vision. ( )
  jayne_charles | Sep 11, 2013 |
I hate it when a much-lauded book just doesn't grab me. I'm sure it's me, and not the book.

A Single Man takes place over 24 hours in 1962. George is a 58-year-old Englishman, and a university professor somewhere near Los Angeles. Several months earlier his partner Jim died suddenly, and George is trying to put his life back together. He goes through the motions of his daily routine, teaches his English classes, speculates on his students' lives outside of class, chats with neighbors, and visits a woman friend. He is haunted by memories of Jim and their life together -- a life that, in 1962, was a closely guarded secret.

This book is billed as "one of the first and best novels of the gay liberation movement." I probably don't understand the movement's history well enough to appreciate the significance of this work, and viewed through a 21st-century lens, it's not as daring as it was in the 1960s. But the blurb on my edition also describes it as "constantly funny, surprisingly sad," and for me, it failed to delivery. I couldn't muster the expected emotions. George certainly mourned Jim, but I didn't feel his grief. I saw him simply putting one foot in front of the other and erecting a barrier around himself, one I thought as the reader I'd be able to break through.

So the book didn't work for me, but I haven't given up. It was made into a film starring Colin Firth, and I've just discovered it's available from my local library. ( )
1 vote lauralkeet | May 30, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0816638624, Paperback)


The author's favorite of his own novels, now back in print!

When A Single Man was originally published, it shocked many by its frank, sympathetic, and moving portrayal of a gay man in midlife. George, the protagonist, is adjusting to life on his own after the sudden death of his partner, and determines to persist in the routines of his daily life; the course of A Single Man spans twenty-four hours in an ordinary day. An Englishman and a professor living in suburban Southern California, he is an outsider in every way, and his internal reflections and interactions with others reveal a man who loves being alive despite everyday injustices and loneliness. Wry, suddenly manic, constantly funny, surprisingly sad, this novel catches the texture of life itself.

"A testimony to Isherwood's undiminished brilliance as a novelist." Anthony Burgess

"An absolutely devastating, unnerving, brilliant book." Stephen Spender

"Just as his Prater Violet is the best novel I know about the movies, Isherwood's A Single Man, published in 1964, is one of the first and best novels of the modern gay liberation movement." Edmund White

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:36 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

After the sudden death of his longtime lover, George must adjust to life on his own as a professor in Southern California in the early 1960s. During the course of an ordinary day, George is haunted by memories as he seeks connections with the world around him--Publisher's description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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An edition of this book was published by HighBridge.

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