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The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth
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The Golden Gate (1986)

by Vikram Seth

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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» See also 55 mentions

English (31)  Dutch (1)  All languages (32)
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
I did not find real depth of thought or anything shocking in its content. Rewrite it in prose and it will be a fairly honest memoir of the 80's in Frisco (which is a fairly wild guess for me, who has never sailed to that part of the globe). But the style of the composition is so amusing, and the verses are so well-written in their exotic Onegin-metrics (sounding so familiar to the Russian ear), that it becomes a gem of easy reading. I read it aloud to my wife.

Probably there is a certain kind of symbolism in this choice of metre. Something like "Russians love their children too" - a song of the same era and in the same vein, if I am not mistaken. ( )
  alik-fuchs | Apr 27, 2018 |
Oh my god this book is eating my brain. See the sonnet I wrote about it http://suppertimesonnets.blogspot.com/2009/09/in-which-vikram-seth-makes-me-feel... ( )
  KateSherrod | Aug 1, 2016 |
With an otherwise ordinary plot, this novel in verse is full of little delights from its vocabulary to its satire of yuppies to its fourth-wall breaking. Even in usual novels, the appearance of fantastic words such as petrissage or fianchetto, or the all encompassing setence jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz, or cute homophonic puns birds and orchids (birds and/or kids), would be delectable, but in a metred verse, it is doubly so. The scathing commentary on love's dumbing effects or art or just yuppiedom in general had me chuckling or despairing at its relevance thirty years on - speaking of which, I appreciated Jan noticing and policing the casual sexism that pours forth continuously from John who is undeniably the worst character, sexist, homophobic, uncompromising in relationships, cowardly, the list of his defects goes on.

The narrator-poet's tendency to break the fourth wall were silly pleasures, with his magnanimous recount of the two sides of Phil and Claire's separation, or his literary version of a screen coyly fading to black as a couple is about to kiss or more, or his meta-description of his real-life experience of describing the novel while acknowledging the Onegin/Pushkin influence. With a gimmicky premise - a novel in verse, the metre was constricting in a positive way, slowing an otherwise rushed reader, preventing surface reading, making every syllable compulsory, and it was used most effectively for conversations, emphasising the ebb and flow and interruptions of speech. Warning: after a few hundred pages of rhythmic reading - wiggling my toe in beat while mouthing the words helped my reading of the novel -, you'll find it difficult to read normal prose for a while. ( )
1 vote kitzyl | Mar 8, 2016 |
I was thinking in iambic tetrameter for weeks after reading this book. I have read this book multiple times, and it always leaves me delighted and surprised. It also always leaves me in a puddle of tears. Highly recommended. ( )
  HenryKrinkle | Jul 23, 2014 |
Janet Hayakawa, a yet-to-be-discovered sculptor and drummer in the Liquid Sheep, secretly places a personal ad for her friend John, even though she too is single. "Only her cats provide distraction,/Twin paradigms of lazy action." The seventh letter does the trick. Lawyer Liz Donati's submission is two sonnets in toto and disarms John into meeting her. Soon they fall into brief bliss, as do her brother, Ed, and John's old college roommate, Phil. Unfortunately, the first couple's love is too soon destroyed, partly by a pet, partly by politics; and the second is rent by religion. Ed pulls away thanks to the Bible: "I have to trust my faith's decisions, / Not batten on my own volitions."

The rest of the novel leads less to the traditional comic ending--rapprochement and marriage all around--than to surprising sadness. But in between there is wit, wordplay, abounding allusion, and some marvelous animals, among them the iguana Schwarzenegger. The author even steps onto the stage on occasion: at a frou-frou publishing party a powerful editor accosts him, curious to hear about his new novel. When Seth tells him it's in verse, the temperature plummets. "'How marvelously quaint,' he said, / And subsequently cut me dead." Luckily, Seth's real editor did anything but.
1 vote AhalyaLiteraryAngels | Dec 22, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Seth, Vikramprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hout, Paul van denTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
So here they are, the chapters ready,

And, half against my will, I'm free

Of this warm enterprise, this heady

Labor that has exhausted me

Through thirteen months, swight and delightful,

Incited by my friends' insightful

Paring and prodding and appeal.

I pray the gentle hands of Steele

Will once again sift through its pages.

If anything is this should grate,

Ascribe it to its natal state;

If anything in this engages

By verse, veracity, or wim,

You know whom I must credit, Tim.
First words
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
To make a start more swift than weighty,

Hail Muse.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679734570, Paperback)

Can 690 sonnets, rhyming a-b-a-b-c-c-d-d-e-f-f-e-g-g, be a novel? Definitely! First published in 1986 and still fresh (the sole sign of its publication date being the frequent use of the word yuppie), Vikram Seth's The Golden Gate will turn the verse-fearing into admiring acolytes. Janet Hayakawa, a yet-to-be-discovered sculptor and drummer in the Liquid Sheep, secretly places a personal ad for her friend John, even though she too is single. "Only her cats provide distraction,/Twin paradigms of lazy action." The seventh letter does the trick. Lawyer Liz Donati's submission is two sonnets in toto and disarms John into meeting her. Soon they fall into brief bliss, as do her brother, Ed, and John's old college roommate, Phil. Unfortunately, the first couple's love is too soon destroyed, partly by a pet, partly by politics; and the second is rent by religion. Ed pulls away thanks to the Bible: "I have to trust my faith's decisions, / Not batten on my own volitions."

The rest of the novel leads less to the traditional comic ending--rapprochement and marriage all around--than to surprising sadness. But in between there is wit, wordplay, abounding allusion, and some marvelous animals, among them the iguana Schwarzenegger. The author even steps onto the stage on occasion: at a frou-frou publishing party a powerful editor accosts him, curious to hear about his new novel. When Seth tells him it's in verse, the temperature plummets. "'How marvelously quaint,' he said, / And subsequently cut me dead." Luckily, Seth's real editor did anything but.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:23 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"The great California novel been written, in verse (and why not?): The Golden Gate gives great joy."--Gore Vidal One of the most highly regarded novels of 1986, Vikram Seth's story in verse made him a literary household name in both the United States and India.  John Brown, a successful yuppie living in 1980s San Francisco meets a romantic interest in Liz, after placing a personal ad in the newspaper. From this interaction, John meets a variety of characters, each with their own values and ideas of "self-actualization." However, Liz begins to fall in love with John's best friend, and John realizes his journey of self-discovery has only just begun. "A splendid achievement, equally convincing in its exhilaration and its sadness."--The New York Times "Seth pulls off his feat with spirit, grace and great energy."--The New Yorker "A marvelous work . . . bold and splendid . . . Locate this book and allow yourself to become caught up, like a kite, in the lifting effects of Seth's sonnets."--Washington Post Book World… (more)

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