A Single Man
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A Single Man

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  11,211 ratings  ·  813 reviews
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...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published March 20th 2001 by Univ Of Minnesota Press (first published 1964)
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Maurice by E.M. ForsterBrokeback Mountain by Annie ProulxThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeGiovanni's Room by James BaldwinTales of the City by Armistead Maupin
Best Gay Fiction
9th out of 1,030 books — 1,245 voters
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Best LGBTQIA literature
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeffrey Keeten
“A few times in my life I’ve had moments of absolute clarity. When for a few brief seconds the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think, and things seem so sharp and the world seems so fresh. It’s as though it had all just come into existence.
I can never make these moments last. I cling to them, but like everything, they fade. I have lived my life on these moments. They pull me back to the present, and I realize that everything is exactly the way it was meant to be.”


We all...more
Tfitoby
Christopher Isherwood has written a book that makes me hate him. Or maybe I hate myself? The main theme of this book is loss; loss of a lover, loss of youth, loss of identity, loss of direction, it's all there in beautifully phrased observations and it tickled that spot in my mind, the spot where I hide all of my fears, until I could no longer ignore the fact that I am and I continue to lose these things myself until one day the devastating and unthinkable will happen and I will lose that which...more
Evan
Aug 04, 2013 Evan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone in the universe
This book is a truly beautiful thing; a completely exquisite experience. Page after page it spoke to me, as eloquently and profoundly as any book I've ever read. It was sad and funny and wise and observant without ever becoming sentimental or maudlin.

In 186 pages of concentrated, yet langorous, stream-of-consciousness prose Isherwood gets to the heart of what means to be a middle-aged man, a loner, a fish out of water, an expatriate on several levels -- as a Britisher in a new land, a gay man in...more
julio
Sep 22, 2013 julio rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Students of skribblecraft
Shelves: loved
I aspire.

Probably the greatest influence on my writing, and the bar against which I measure all literature, not just LGBT lit.

Flawless.
Brian
For astronauts that had returned from walking on the moon, I imagine that the worst part of their experience was having to live out the rest of their lives. Every other event would be "after the moon"; all experiences would be measured by that yardstick; old and new relationships would orbit around that event.

This then makes me think about retired professional athletes, former world-stage politicians, etc. - do they also live out the remainder of their lives reflecting on the halcyon days of yes...more
K.D. Absolutely
Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986) was an English novelist who pioneered the writing of novels with gay themes in English literature. He was openly gay, lived with and befriended fellow gay men some of them were famous also like W. H. Auden and Truman Capote. At some points in his life, he also became friends and was mentored by E. M. Forster. In turn, when he met Ray Bradbury in a chance encounter in a bookstore, he wrote a glowing review for his The Martian Chronicles that helped launch the lat...more
Eric
A Single Man is a day in the life (quaint naturalist device, that) of a middle-aged Englishman and English professor grieving in a numbed, autopilot kinda way after the recent death of his partner. I remember Don Bachardy saying in the film Chris and Don: A Love Story that Isherwood wrote this novel during one of their trial separations; the intensity of George’s sense of loss was therefore underwritten by Isherwood’s own dreadful imagination of life without Don.

I loved George’s morning, and hi...more
Paul
An astounding piece of work; a day in the life of novel. The day belongs to George Falconer; an English professor in his 50s (English by nationality as well) teaching in southern California. It is set in the early 1960s. George’s lover Jim has recently died suddenly and he is alone again. The novel takes us from waking to breakfast, to travelling to work and so on. This doesn’t have the grandiosity of Joyce; it is much more straightforward and focuses living each day because of life’s brevity.
T...more
Catie
I am not sure if I am just ignorant of what the humor was like in the 60’s, or if Christopher Isherwood was way ahead of his time, but this book definitely has what I would call a modern sense of humor. It’s that special blend of bittersweet heartbreak, self-deprecation, and sardonic wit. I am very familiar with this type of humor from my favorite movies and television shows, but I am pleasantly surprised to find it here, in this brilliant little book that, on the surface, appears to be about de...more
Kimley
Masks - we all wear them. We've got our work masks and our family masks and our friend masks. Then, try adding to that being a gay man living in the netherworld of not pretending to be straight but also not able to be fully out (the early 1960s). That's a lot of freakin' masks! And it's exhausting. And our hero, George, is tired, tired of the bullshit and hypocrisy. Thankfully, he still has a biting sense of humor and beware if you're on the receiving end of his satirical skewer. But George is a...more
KatieMc
Good things come in small well written packages. Christopher Isherwood has puts you the reader inside the skin of the protagonist, George, experiencing a day that is both mundane and extraordinary. The loneliness and isolation of a grieving (for all intents and purposes) widower is certainly a central theme. Because George is a gay man in the 1960s, his grief must be private. Even so, I did not read A Single Man as a gay rights protest piece; it was much more than that. Maybe it is just me, but...more
El
If you watched the 2009 movie version of this story starring Colin Firth before reading this book, be aware that the movie takes the story in... a different direction. Kinda sorta? It's different. For all of its similarities, it's different. I saw the movie first because I requested both from the library and the movie came in before the book, and the movies are only borrowable for a week, and who knew when the book was coming in, so I just sucked it up and did it.

These are both good stories. But...more
Melanie
21/4/14. I gave this 4 stars? Let me remedy that now, this is a 5 star read all the way, essential reading.

2012 review
How do you review a novel that literally terrifies you? I'm not sure I can do it justice but I'll give it a whirl.

For the several hours it took to read this short novel I went through a gamut of emotions. The novel is a day-in-the-life account of George Falconer, an English Professor in 1960's suburban California.

George is grieving the loss of his long term partner and it seems...more
tim
Here is a rather lengthy, yet succinct standalone quote from this book's penultimate chapter that absolutely floored me. It gives away nothing, plot-wise, to those who have not yet read it:

Up the coast a few miles north, in a lava reef under the cliffs, there are a lot of rock pools. You can visit them when the tide is out. Each pool is separate and different, and you can, if you are fanciful, give them names, such as George, Charlotte, Kenny, Mrs. Strunk. Just as George and the others are thou

...more
Chiara Pagliochini
“Lo specchio, più che un volto, riflette l’espressione di una difficoltà. […] Lo sguardo provato è quello di un nuotatore o di un podista stremati; eppure, di fermarsi non se ne parla. L’individuo che stiamo osservando lotterà senza tregua fino al crollo. E non per eroismo. Perché non sa immaginarsi un’alternativa.”

Quand’ero verso la metà di questo libro, ho pensato che ad essere onesti lo si poteva riassumere con una frase sola, e non delle più complesse. Una frase minimale, quasi un inciso, to...more
Melanie
How do you review a novel that literally terrifies you? I'm not sure I can do it justice but I'll give it a whirl.

For the several hours it took to read this short novel I went through a gamut of emotions. The novel is a day-in-the-life account of George Falconer, an English Professor in 1960's suburban California.

George is grieving the loss of his long term partner and it seems that his vehicle for coping is the disassembling & examination of Self. The novel reads at times like an autopsy....more
Giedre
So right after finishing Isherwood's "A Single Man" last night I did this terrible (or wonderful?) thing of whatching the movie based on the book. I was moved after the book, and it only got intensified after I finished the movie at 2:30 am last night. And I could not sleep until the morning. The terrible part is that I can't tell which of the two was responsible for my insomnia in the end. The wonderful part that I had not been moved in such way in a very long time.

"A Single Man" follows George...more
Iris
Jun 03, 2009 Iris rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: teachers, loners, orators, gym members
Shelves: novels
An intense, subtle page-turner that will so absorb you that you'll wonder if you've briefly become another person. Specifically, the keen main character, George, who we follow through a day in which he thinks about Jim, his recently deceased partner, while he walks through life: driving to Laurel Canyon, teaching an Aldous Huxley novel in a lecture hall, going to the gym, passionately opining, and observing others' awkwardness or obliviousness around his gayness. Isherwood's focus on careful obs...more
April
I’ve never come across Isherwood in literature (only when Tom Ford’s A Single Man amused me one night on TV did I seek out this particular novella), yet oddly enough I’ve a feeling reading about his life is an integral part of understanding his work.

Poignant and humorous, genuine and gentle, Isherwood’s short seems to both intrigue and fascinate with thoughtful, abstract prose, interweaving the life of George; wonderful, broken - a poor soul teetering on the fringes of life after the death of h...more
Brad
I love being made to feel, and I love it even more when that feeling is passed to me through literature, and I love it more still when that feeling is completely unexpected, and I love it most of all when it leaves me on the edge of weeping joyfully.

I had zero expectations for Isherwood's A Single Man. I knew nothing about it when I plucked it from the bookshelf, but I saw Colin Firth's face and my adoration (along with his Oscar nomination for his leading role in Tom Ford's film adaptation, whi...more
Lavinia
I'm one of those people that would have never read "A Single Man" if it weren't for Tom Ford and Colin Firth. To be truly honest, I think I'd rather watch the film again than reread the book (despite some changes in the film version), and that's mostly for the incredible cinematography, the stunning interiors and have you noticed how awesome Colin looks in those suits?

However, one year apart, I've totally forgotten one important detail: everything happens in an ordinary, augmented day. To an (ex...more
Shelley
Very rarely does a film entice me to read the novel afterwards, but this one did. It is a short day-in-the-life story about an English professor, George and how he was coping with the loss of his partner. I was amazed with what few details were shared about Jim, I was feeling the loss profoundly right along with him. It was wonderful - the prose was spare and the feelings of sadness and loneliness were powerfully captured. I loved it.
Teresa
"E é aqui, quase todas as manhãs, que George, ao chegar ao fundo das escadas, tem a sensação de se encontrar, de súbito, numa aresta abrupta, brutalmente interrompida, recortada...Como se o trilho tivesse desaparecido no meio de um desabamento de terras. É aqui que ele pára de repente e se apercebe, com uma doentia sensação de novidade, quase como se fosse pela primeira vez, de que Jim morreu. Morreu."

George está de luto pela perda do seu companheiro e a tentar sobreviver-lhe retomando a sua vid...more
E. Chainey (Bookowski)
19.07.2014: Filmi izlemeyen varsa şiddetle tavsiye!



Zamanın birinde Jim ile George diye iki hayat arkadaşı varmış.
Birbirlerine çok aşıklarmış arada küçük kaçamakları olsa da.
Bir gün Jim dünyada her gün birçok can alan trafik canavarı ile karşılaşmış ve bu dünyadan göçmüş.
Geride sadece George kalmış.
O George ki Jim'in ardından belli bir süre sonraki bir gününde ona eşlik ediyoruz bu kitapla.
George işte, bir edebiyat profesörü o.
Gençliğe özlem duyan, güzel erkeklere bakmadan duramayan, hala yaşaya...more
Linda Lipko
This is a hauntingly beautiful book portraying one day in the life of 58 year old George. Written in stream-of-consciousness, the reader is privy to George's unrelenting struggle to cope after losing his lover of 16 years.

Though it has been a year since Jim died, George finds each day difficult, and the simple act of dressing, driving, functioning as a college professor and relating to students, co-workers and friends requires much more energy and emotion than he is capable of exhibiting.

There i...more
C.C.
This novel about one 24-hour day in the life of a gay English professor, an expatriate Brit living in Los Angeles during the 1960s, was recently made into a film. I knew of Christopher Isherwood but hadn't read anything by him. This novel was amazing--lovely prose, clear and original descriptions of what it feels like to be human. The protagonist, George Falconer, is a quiet but witty intellectual struggling with the phenomenal sadness of his partner Jim's death within the last year. He wakes up...more
Blake Fraina
I’ve had a raggedy copy of this book kicking around my collection for years. A regulation sized paper back from the early seventies with bad cover art, I never bothered to read it because I was certain any book about a gay man written in 1962 would have noting relevant to offer a modern audience.

Boy was I wrong.

Now I understand why this book has never gone out of print and why it is considered a classic. This is by no means merely a dated account of a closeted homosexual man in suburban America....more
shana naomi
i have no idea how i got to be 33 years old, have an entire bookshelf sagging with the gay books i've acquired over some omg 17-ish years of collecting and taking classes and i all but have a degree in queer studies, people -- and yet i'd never read any christopher isherwood novels before last month. i don't even remember anyone telling me i should and me having some snarky eh, another old gay white guy response. (i vaguely remember reading some excerpts in a magazine, possibly out, but so vague...more
Tosh
This is a very beautifully structured novel by Isherwood. And not is it only an important "Gay" novel, but it is also a great Los Angeles book as well. The quiet desperation of a British collage professor's long-term lost of a love to a car accident. The story is one day in the life of a man in grief coping with his lost- yet it is very quiet, but with a side dish of great observations on life in a Los Angeles neighborhood circ. early 1960's with the fear of Cuba and the bomb, etc.

In many ways a...more
Kernos
Dec 16, 2012 Kernos rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: All readers loving fine fiction.
Much better than the movie for uncertain reasons, though I think the endings are a big reason.

Isherwood's craft is superb. It is hard to believe this was "shocking" when published, even though I was a sophomore in college at the time.
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Christopher Isherwood was a novelist, playwright, screen-writer, autobiographer, and diarist. He was also homosexual and made this a theme of some of his writing. He was born near Manchester in the north of England in 1904, became a U.S. citizen in 1946, and died at home in Santa Monica, California in January 1986.

Isherwood was the grandson and heir of a country squire, and his boyhood was privile...more
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“A few times in my life I’ve had moments of absolute clarity. When for a few brief seconds the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think, and things seem so sharp and the world seems so fresh. It’s as though it had all just come into existence.
I can never make these moments last. I cling to them, but like everything, they fade. I have lived my life on these moments. They pull me back to the present, and I realize that everything is exactly the way it was meant to be.”
257 likes
“Think of two people, living together day after day, year after year, in this small space, standing elbow to elbow cooking at the same small stove, squeezing past each other on the narrow stairs, shaving in front of the same small bathroom mirror, constantly jogging, jostling, bumping against each other’s bodies by mistake or on purpose, sensually, aggressively, awkwardly, impatiently, in rage or in love – think what deep though invisible tracks they must leave, everywhere, behind them!” 144 likes
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