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A Changed Man

3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  969 ratings  ·  139 reviews
What is charismatic Holocaust survivor Meyer Maslow to think when a rough-looking young neo-Nazi named Vincent Nolan walks into the Manhattan office of Maslow's human rights foundation and declares that he wants to "save guys like me from becoming guys like me"? As Vincent gradually turns into the sort of person who might actually be able to do this, he also transforms tho ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published February 28th 2006 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 2005)
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My problem with this book is not exactly that it's essentially a hokey Lifetime movie, a.k.a. a corny cheeseball romantic pseudo drama, so much as the subject matter was toned down to a largely PG incarnation. Granted, movies like American History X are on the opposite end of the spectrum and possibly more violent than reality, but even the middle ground is much more than your average person wants to see or even know about. This book uses that sub-culture in a much too safe way and dare I say, i ...more
I really wish there was another, alternative rating system on GR such as Positive, Negative and Neutral. This book would receive neutral. This is my first Prose book and I happened to pick it up on audio at a good price, which is what prompted me to partake in Prose's work.

It is good to read that she has other, better books because this book on its own would not prompt me to be a huge fan of her writing.

This story seemed to be such an interesting concept after reading the quick synopsis on the
Prose has sensitive ear for free indirect discourse and for dialogue. Her language quickly had me engaged. Her characters are complex, each highly individual but also believable– Vincent Nolan, Meyer Maslow, Bonnie Kalen, her sons. I was at first more impressed by their emerging complexity than by any significant change they were each undergoing, at least until the second half of the novel. Each had ghosts and was full of neuroses. It was initially hard to know whether Nolan was “legit.” Was he ...more
Such a bummer.

Riding a high after Francine Prose's "Reading Like a Writer", I picked up this book -- which I had been seeing on independent booksellers' tables for a while. I had hoped to enjoy it as much as I enjoyed her book on reading/writing because I thought she offered really keen insights on the subject.

However, I was pretty disappointed by this book. It wasn't that it was a bad book or poorly written. But it was long and sprawling... and just felt a little careless to me. I like writers
I've read two other books by Francine Prose (Blue Angel and The Peaceable Kingdom). This was pretty different. Reminded me a lot of Nick Hornby's How to Be Good, but not as funny. The story is basically that an uninspired Neo-Nazi sees the light while on Ecstacy and decides to throw himself at the mercy of and in service to an Elie Wiesel-like character. It feels not nearly as dark as her other stories, in fact it isn't dark at all. I liked it in spite of that.
I kind of feel the same way about this book as I did about the other Francine Prose novels I have read. Sharp writing, lots of funny/poignant moments, fully realized, idiosyncratic characters ... but I wasn't totally into it, for reasons I can't quite put my finger on. I'm relearning the art of reading on public transportation, and this one made me a bit uncomfortable with its crazy racist characters spouting invective on every page.
A Changed Man begins with an ex-white supremacist walking into a human rights organization’s office to offer his services: he wants to “help guys like me from becoming guys like me.” The subject matter allows Prose to flex her satire muscles, which by this point are quite developed. In this case, the focal point of her attack is a human rights organization. I don’t know how she’s going to one-up herself after this one. Ten years ago, in Hunters and Gatherers, she targeted goddess-worshipping new ...more
Mrs. McGregor
Summary: A Neo-Nazi named Vincent Nolan wants to turn around and "save guys like [him] from becoming guys like [him]" by helping World Brotherhood Watch raise money and awareness. At the helm of WBW is holocaust survivor and well-known author, Meyer Maslow, who befriends Vincent. In the process, Vincent bunks up with a single mom Bonnie and her two boys, Danny and Max. This is his "hideout", since his former buddies from ARM (Aryan Resistance Movement) are after him because they "want revenge". ...more
Jane Roper
I admired the way Prose tried to get inside the minds and hearts of four such different characters -- a (former) white supremacist, the neurotic fundraising exec. who hosts and befriends him, her teenage son, the eloquent and sometimes self-absorbed head of the non-profit organization at the center of the book.

However, I'm not sure she succeeds entirely, especially in the case of the white supremacist. I would have liked to go a few steps deeper (and darker) into his history, his motivations, h
Dec 17, 2008 Martha rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Martha by:
Shelves: own, lent
Vincent Nolan leaves the Aryan Resistance Movement and seeks refuge (and a job) with the humanitarian organization World Brotherhood Watch. The rest of A Changed Man follows Vincent's growth and the people around him with mostly internal monologues. The characters' perceptions of each other and themselves play a huge role as these vastly different people try to understand each other.

Francine Prose made these characters into incredibly believable human beings. It is especially impressive when yo
After reading Blue Angel, I was disappointed with A Changed Man. It was entertaining and kept me interested, but also kept me wondering what was missing from making it great instead of just OK. Part of it was a matter of believability and another that I found none of the characters wholly likable. That they were all so habitually self deprecating didn't help either.

It did inspire me to ponder what the important part of a person is. Is it the inner person, their thoughts and feelings that they d
An enjoyable read that doesn't quite make it all the way. The main problem is that Vincent, the "ex-Neo Nazi," never seems to have been a Nazi in the first place. Just a tagalong. Other than using the word "Rican" he doesn't seem to have a hateful or even non-PC bone in his body. So it's hard to buy into his transformation. Or is that part of the satire? Hard to tell. The other problem is that this novel is set in episodes in the spring and summer of 2001. I kept waiting for 9/11 to roll around. ...more
Jenny Yates
This is the story of a skinhead, Vincent Nolan, who, while taking ecstasy at a rave, suddenly realizes that he’s living the wrong life. He's been living with his cousin Raymond, and has been part of a racist, neo-Nazi group, and now he decides to go offer his services to a group dedicated to world peace, headed by a famous Holocaust survivor.

This wry, funny novel moves between Vincent’s point of view, and those of the other characters. We hear their inner dialogue, and everyone is trying to und
It would actually be 3.5 stars. The book was not perfect but I liked it and it was a fast read. What really struck me was how Prose examined the good and bad of all of the characters from Vincent to Meyer to even Danny and Joel. I loved the Dickens reference in regard to Meyer. No character was one-dimensional and the book made you think.
Reforming skinhead meets Holocaust survivor. I was so excited for the relative originality of the premise. Usually I avoid WWII and race/ethnicity relations in my entertainment. And I did enjoy how many of the characters were clearly, engagingly written. But the POV and plot were a bit untidy so I didn't feel I was reading at a depth the premise deserved. There were some nice sections of dialogue NOT thinly veiled soapbox speeches - that did a nice job bringing the reader into some pretty heavy ...more
Deborah Schwartz Jacobs
Liked it all right, though it seemed a bit facile for this author to whose earlier works ("Hungry Hearts," "Marie Laveau") I became enthusiastically devoted upon initial discovery. This we might attribute to my having largely distanced myself from her milieu over the past three decades. Or perhaps I prefer her treatments of subjects more exotic to me. (Fair disclosure: I'm in "Shoah biz," as it's sometimes called, though decidedly not the USA variety.) The household-menage made mildly interestin ...more
3.5 stars

Michael Schaub (Bookslut) was pronouncing Proust's new novel A Changed Man as a candidate for the best of 2005. Run to the bookstore immediately, did I, and started it on the way home that night.

I did think it was a really good book; I wouldn't have sped through it in 2.5 days if I hadn't! But...but I'm reserving judgement on "best of" with an inclination to say "mmmm, not quite there." It's the story of a somewhat Skinhead, who offers himself to a humanitarian organization run by an A
Donia Alexandra
As of yesterday I officially got sick of this book. Done. I'm done. Unfortunately my bookclub is discussing this book on Sunday and I'm forced between the half read strong negitive opinion... or foraging ahead (only 200 or so more pages) through a book that I'm really over, and having a fully read opinion of the book, which I doubt will be very different from the opinion I hold now.

So here is the thing. The book is psychologically driven. Not a horrible thing in itself. The point of view switch
Obviously it is about a "changed man," and really it was the whole premise of the book that reeled me in (based on the book jacket).

Short Summary(spoilers)

A recovering neo-Nazi finds himself in a suburban home with a ready made family of a forty-something divorcee mother of two boys after he promises to be a spokesperson for an anti-hate organiziation with the hope he can prevent other guys like him from becoming guys like him.

First off, the Neo-Nazi is named Vincent which in my mind just doesn'
Everyone believes in something, be it God, alchemy, market forces, or mutability. Meyer Maslow, high-profile Holocaust survivor and founder of Brotherhood Watch (BW), believes in all of the above, and then some. As head of an organization that uses publicity and moral pressure to free political prisoners and dissidents, he is surrounded by acolytes who staff his offices and follow his central belief: "peace through change."

The eponymous changed man, Vincent Nolan, leaves his van in the top tier
This is not a great novel, but it's a peasant one. The story of a former skinhead who comes to work for a foreign aid program run by a Holocaust survivor, and develops a close relationship with a single mom working there, and her two sons. There's nothing especially earth shattering about it, but it's a pleasant read with credible insight into human nature. Granted, everyone in the book - even the quasi-villain - is basically the nicest, most likeable incarnation of their character type that you ...more
Was this man changed? He despised what he had fallen into. He showed sensitivity, yet the character development is a bit stilted. The idea of someone changing so drastically from a Hate group to then work for the ones that had been the most hated group, Brotherhood Watch, a group that is a watchdog for those suffering from racism...that gives one hope. For that message, this book is worth while. I liked it ...three stars.
If I'm in the mood for a frothy and funny summertime read, I wouldn't generally pick up a book about neo-Nazi skinheads. But I stumbled upon A Changed Man, and although I wouldn't call it frothy, it's an easy read and sometimes wickedly funny - a perfect beach read. It's about Vincent, a young skinhead complete with Waffen SS tattoos, who offers his help to a human-rights group headed by a Holocaust survivor. The organization puts Vincent up at he home of the development director, a tightly-woun ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Critical opinion varied widely on this latest novel by veteran Prose, who has written 11 novels as well as many nonfiction books. Champions found it filled with biting wit and hilarious episodes pitting the drifter skinhead against the entrenched upper classes, which added up to an entertaining examination of important contemporary issues. Detractors found the plot too static and reliant on caricature, didn't believe in or care about Vincent's transformation, and thought the ending predictable.

Nov 01, 2012 Bridget rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: moms who know nothing about skinheads
Novels about skinheads should be right in my wheelhouse but this book was just not on. I read Prose's Blue Angel a couple of years ago and enjoyed it so I expected to feel similarly about this book but no.
It took pages and pages to get through 5 minutes of real time as every main character's thoughts spun off and around every single thing that occurred. Despite the interior third person monologues, I couldn't get easily invested in any character because they were all watercolor washes of real pe
Melinda Worfolk
I picked this up while travelling and read it on the train and airplane. I found it engrossing and interesting, especially because I used to have a job where part of my responsibilities was researching hate groups. I remember being fascinated by the story of one neo-Nazi who had "converted" to the anti-racism movement, and I always wondered about his story and how much of it was genuine and how much was opportunistic. I thought Prose's novel did a good job of showing that there could be many mot ...more
Dec 28, 2008 Sara rated it 3 of 5 stars
Also picked this up from the library book club. I'm a little skeptical about this one...neo-nazi walks into a anti-hate group's office saying he wants to change...hmmm. I've read one of Francine Prose's other books, Blue Angel, and I liked it a lot, so we'll see with this one. So far it's a little faster read than Brick Lane, which I'm also trying to read.

Update - I got halfway through this over the summer and never finished it. I liked it, and I actually think about it quite a bit. Just got bus
I was immediately engrossed in the lives of each character from page one. Vincent Nolan, former skinhead, is introduced first as the man in metamorphosis. He is welcomed as the man to prove that people can change from haters to lovers in the diverse world. Bonnie Kalen, a single mother of two, brings Nolan into her home where relationships are formed and exemplified in their relations to each other. The way characters feel and figure each other out is beautifully shown in subtle glances and mann ...more
I saw this book in the library and checked it out…returned it…checked it out again…returned it….and then checked it out as an audiobook. Long story short, it took me forever to finish this book (6 months, I think). The idea of the book has great potential. A former member of the Aryaian Resistance Movement (ARM) tries to become a better person by walking into the offices of the Brotherhood Watch. There was great character development and I did appreciate how the author showed how a person's effo ...more
Béla Balogh
Staying between being overly ironic and still being a literature makes this book hard to read, but certainly worth the effort. Intrigue and intelligent storyline woven with a slight offshore tuned humour, I've been craving to see some violence after feeling the incredible tension and pain on these characters. Hopefully, this reading experience turned out to be more human and generous, as it gave me honesty and pure emotional reasoning within a concept that's just sitting on the edge of the knife ...more
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Francine Prose (born in 1947 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American novelist. She graduated from Radcliffe College in 1968, and received a Guggenheim fellowship in 1991. She has sat on the board of judges for the PEN/Newman's Own Award, and her novel Blue Angel, a satire about sexual harassment on college campuses, was a finalist for the National Book Award. She is now teaching at Bard College.

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