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He Wants by Alison Moore

He Wants

by Alison Moore

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466356,457 (3.71)32



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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
I liked this book, but a story about an older man with a parent in a nursing home is pretty sure to get my interest. I think I particularly relate to the main character's reflections on his childhood experiences. Nearly all the major characters in this novel are men - perhaps unusual for a female author - but I think Moore has a good understanding of what a man's life is like. Perhaps she knows one or more men well. The book encouraged me to reflect on my own life, past and present - and future too. That makes it a worthwhile read for me. ( )
  oldblack | Feb 16, 2017 |
He does sleep through earthquakes. There was one recently, with a magnitude of three, right where he lives but he was unaware of it until he read about it in the paper in due course. He would like to experience an earthquake, to feel the ground shaking beneath him, to feel the bed trembling, all the ornaments rattling like something out of an exorcism.

Lewis, a 70 year old retired Religious Education teacher, does sleep through earthquakes. As he sleeps through so many other things that could have changed the course of his life. He aches for Beef Wellington, but ends up eating his daughters cold soup. He dreams of flying to Australia, but he never travels anywhere. And then there’s a denial of even deeper desires.

But then he meets his old schoolfriend Sydney - a whimsical, rather mysterious character with his yellow Saab and Golden Retriever - and Lewis starts to wake up.

Desire, regret, fear - all of these primal emotions is in play in this well-crafted, suspenseful novel - that also contains a lot of dry humor. You can just feel that a lot of thought have gone into every element, every sentence of this story. Like the many references to yellow and gold - suggesting something wild, colorful and dramatic set against the mundane and drab lonely life of Lewis.

One thing we now have to expect from Moore is the surprising endings. In “The Lighthouse” it was brutal - in this one it felt surreal, dreamlike. I flipped back and reread bits of several chapters and there’s clues along the way. That is brilliant writing.

I also like the dry humor. Like the repeated references to Goldschläger, the Swiss liqueur with bits of gold in it….an exotic and mysterious drink.

”Have you ever had it”, asks Lewis, taking a sip of his shandy.
“No”, she says.
Lewis shakes his head. What kind of a man, he thinks, walks around asking for Swiss liqueurs with bits of gold in? He stands at the bar with his drink, thinking about the things he’s never had and never will.

hmmm…I might try to order a Goldschläger today. ( )
3 vote ctpress | Jan 9, 2017 |
"He always imagined living by the sea, perhaps in his retirement. But he is seventy years old now, retired years ago, and still living in this village in the Midlands, less than a mile from the house which grew up and around the corner from the school in which he has spent the best part of his life." (62)

Lewis Sullivan is seventy, widowed, and a retired Religious Studies teacher. He lives a mile from his childhood home. Ruth, his adult daughter, visits every day, bringing him soup he doesn’t want; and he spend his evenings at his second-favourite pub. But his comfortable routine is shaken up when his old school chum, Sydney Flynn – a ruffian ex-convict who now writes romance novels under a pseudonym – turns up.

The aptly named He Wants contemplates desire – so many of which, for Lewis, have been thwarted by the passing of time and by age. He resignedly recalls his life’s desires, which now appear as missed opportunities – or the result of his decisions to settle for safer choices – or perhaps both. But the novel is much more than this, too. Lewis’ reminiscences are combined with astute observances about the idiosyncrasies and impersonality of our modern world: we smoke electronic cigarettes, digitally announce our arrival to the doctor’s office, while we sit for photographs in which we are no longer allowed to smile. In fact, socially speaking, we have almost perfected complete alienation from one another:

"Lewis remembers how the mobile library tipped very slightly towards you as you entered, when you put your weight on the steps, and how it swayed underfoot while you were browsing … In the town library now, you don't take your books to the lady behind the desk, you put them into an opening in a big black machine that scans them. You can leave without speaking to a soul." (17)

Written in the same spare and effortless prose as The Lighthouse, Moore has followed up with a most worthy read in He Wants – quiet and entertaining and entirely thought-provoking. I am reminded of Gerbrand Bakker and Per Pettersen, whose work I also love. Highly, highly recommended. ( )
6 vote lit_chick | Jan 8, 2017 |
Een klein en indringend boek over een man van rond de 70 (Lewis) die in contact komt met een jeugdvriend die in de gevangenis heeft gezeten. Steeds meer lijnen komen bij elkaar naarmate het verhaal vordert. Heel sec geschreven. ( )
  elsmvst | Jan 3, 2017 |
I bought this after hearing an interview with the author which seemed to suggest that a novel about men in late middle age who'd led narrow unfulfilled lives would not be depressing.

  Oandthegang | Sep 7, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
He Wants, is a nuanced, haunting tale of desire and repressed longing, and a very creditable successor to her quietly stellar debut, The Lighthouse, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker.
A widower feels the pedestrian confines of his life begin to break down in this brave and rigorous novel...He Wants evokes a world that is purposefully pedestrian – the Dionysian impulses pertain to halves of shandy and the desire to taste a Swiss liqueur called Goldschläger – but its themes of self-realisation, identity and mortality are grand enough..Moore cleverly shows how the growing impersonality of the modern era manufactures the sense of alienation and fatally interacts with the individual's faltering belief in reality: in the small town where Sullivan was born and has remained, the gradual replacement of what was specific and human by what is generic and mechanised has been predictably thorough
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"We all experience within us... the desire to be transported from darkness into light, to be touched by the hand of that which is not of this world." Nick Cave, The Secret Life of the Love Song
'We are not meant to be hungry" Lionel Shriver, Big Brother
For Ian and Kay
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The front door is mostly glass, a pane as tall and wide as a man.
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amazon ca:Lewis Sullivan lives less than a mile from his childhood home. His grown-up daughter visits every day, bringing soup, and he spends his evenings at his second-favourite pub for half a shandy and sausage. But when an old friend appears, he finds his comfortable life shaken up. Touching and compassionate, rich and sensual, He Wants is charged with surprise.
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Lewis Sullivan, an RE teacher at a secondary school, is approaching retirement when he wonders for the first time whether he ought to have chosen a more dramatic career. He lives in a village in the Midlands, less than a mile from the house in which he grew up. He always imagined living by the sea. His grown-up daughter visits every day, bringing soup. He does not want soup. He frequents his second-favourite pub, where he can get half a shandy, a speciality sausage and a bit of company. When an old friend appears on the scene, Lewis finds his routine and comfortable life shaken up.… (more)

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