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The Golden Gate (1986)
by Vikram Seth
References to this work on external resources.
Wikipedia in English
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)
"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
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