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3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  571 ratings  ·  101 reviews
Now in paperback, the universally acclaimed novel about loss and yearning

Reeling from the recent death of his invalid mother, an exhausted, lonely professor comes to our nation's capital to escape his previous life. What he finds therein his handsome, solitary landlord; in the city's somber mood and sepulchral architecture; and in the strange and impassioned journals of Ma

Hardcover, 160 pages
Published June 6th 2006 by Hachette Books (first published May 31st 2006)
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Community Reviews

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I didn't think I'd bother reviewing this, but the reviews of the book are just so fucking stupid. What type of illiterate moron thinks a novel called Grief (and let me repeat: the novel is called Grief, not Over the Fucking Moon Happy) is bad because—wait for it—it's too sad? Or how about this one?: it has too much AIDS. And?: it's gay. This is like whining that Beloved has too many black people in it. "Yeah, that whole slavery thing—too sad!"

And yet, I don't actually feel like contributing anyt
I love this book, one of my favorites that I've read in the past couple of years and I've read it twice now. Some of the reviews have stated that this book is "barren" and "stilted" and that the narrator is wallowing in his grief. Well, welcome to grief. It's not all wails and tantrums and insights. A good portion of the time we become stunned by grief, which may be viewed as barren or stilted or even wallowing when we can't get out of it quick enough. What's so wonderfully beautiful about this ...more
Unlike other writers, Holleran knows he doesn't have to hit the reader over the head to get his ideas across: it's much more effective to crawl under our skin. Grief is a deceptively simple book–short, thematically focused, with only a minimal plotline–but the cumulative effect is powerful and devastating. As the nameless narrator wanders the streets of Washington, DC (with nary a reference to politics, as if we are in a mythic landscape, where the resident of the White House doesn't matter), ob ...more
Andrew Holleran produced "Dancer From the Dance" in the mid-1970s, in the post-Stonewall, pre-HIV disco era. "Dancer" was a swoony romance, the gay "Gatsby". But it was also suffused with a kind of gentle melancholy that Holleran expanded on all through the plague years of the 1980s. "Grief" is Holleran's meditation on loss and living on after grief--- a fine and sympathetic novel, one that draws not only on the survivors' guilt of Holleran's generation but also on the passage of time, on the li ...more
4.5 is my rating.
This is the second time I’ve read this remarkable short novel (150 pages). And I have liked it as much this time as the first time, maybe more. Holleran uses a very penetrating eye in revealing the splendors and miseries of gay life in Washington, the capital of the nation, a paradoxical and sad mirror / pattern of the whole country.
The narrator is told on page 122 by an 80-year old lady that guilt is caused by the awareness of human imperfections, and, being so, it is a form o
A lonely middle-aged gay man has cared for his aging mother for years. Now she has died and the man is alone and bereaved. A friend suggests he take a temporary job in D.C. and rent a room from a friend of the friend. The man he will rent from is also a middle aged gay man. So this plan goes forward and nothing else happens except discussions of grief, loneliness, responsibility to the living and the dead. Our main character is in a Washington D.C. that seems empty and he walks around a great de ...more
This is a sequel to "The Beauty of Men," in which Holleran depicted a closeted son dutifully, but often resentfully, giving his mother weekly outings from a Florida nursing home. In this work, the middle-aged single man, writing in the first person, has moved to Washington D.C. temporarily after his invalid mother has passed away. He is teaching a literature class while working through mixed feelings of guilt, grief and regret that life has passed him by. There is not much "action" in this piece ...more
Not everyone will 'like' this book, but I believe it speaks intensively and extensively to those who have reason to grieve. As I put it to a friend, the characters in this book are in one way or another 'bereft'. I purposely don't use the term 'berieved'; its connotations are somehow too conventional.

The characters in the novel are all dealing, to one degree or another, with absence. In the novel's particular context, it is about gay men grieving for the friends and lovers they have lost through
Sian Lile-Pastore
I thought this was beautiful and lovely and also pretty sad and bleak (yep, the clue was in the title). It's a novel about a man who moves to Washington after the death of his mother and rents a room in a house from a gay man in his 50s.

I assumed that that grief part would be about the narrator getting over the death of his mother, but it also seemed to be a general kind of grief (the grief 'lay beneath all things'),with his friend and landlord trying to get on with their lives in a post AIDS w
This book is a meditation on grief - the main character doesn't evolve or change during the course of the book, he mainly explores his own grief and that of others. I've stayed away from Joan Didion's A Year of Magical Thinking - what reviewers called this book's non-fiction counterpart - because I've had plenty of my own experiences with death in the last few years, and I wasn't sure I wanted to read about how hard it could be. But this being fiction, I wanted to give it a shot. Some of the wri ...more
This is a book that, not surprisingly, explores the different ways people deal with grief. The main character comes to Washington D.C. to recover from the death of his invalid mother. While in D.C. he connects with a number of his gay friends and they talk about the AIDS epidemic that took so many of their friends. The main character realizes that his guilt at surviving the epidemic and the fact that he never came out to his mother are keeping him locked in the grieving cycle even as others move ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

In his fifth work of fiction, Andrew Holleran, author of the widely praised Dancer from the Dance (1978), explores the complex issues surrounding grief while offering multifaceted impressions of Washington, D.C. Critics praised Holleran's lyrical writing, his subtle and flavorful characterizations, and the beauty of his observations__especially in his evocations of the city. Several admired Holleran's refusal to deal with grief in simplistic terms. John Freeman carped that the novel was a "talk

Nick Duretta
This short novel (almost a novella really) details the story of a gay man who moves to Washington D.C. while coping with the recent death of his mother. He becomes obsessed (and I think obsessed is the right word) with Mary Todd Lincoln's actions after the death of Abraham Lincoln, and draws many parallels and lessons from the way she handles grief to his own. It's a device that smacks a little too much of gimmickry, even though it is a valid device and Holleran is a very good writer. I apprecia ...more
Holleran renders grief remarkably, tying the mental breakdown of Mary Todd Lincoln to the ghost-like existence of an aging gay professor who survived the plague. "[Mary] was a ghost, a reminder of something the country wanted to put behind it." Rightly, the narrator is given a friend (Frank), who is so engaging, smart and funny, he saves the book from unbearable bleakness. Grief is a sleek and wonderful novel.
Rick Urban
I've loved Andrew Holleran's books from the very beginning. His "Dancer From the Dance" was a pivotal part of my coming out process, opening my eyes to the possibilities of a thrilling urban life of parties, wacky friends and hot, hot sex, yet it was the melancholy disappearance of Malone, the mysterious and insanely handsome cypher at the center of the story, that really grabbed my attention. Then, as the hedonistic 70's gave way to the tragedy of the AIDS era, Holleran's books became increasin ...more
I picked this up because Paul Monette mentioned Holleran in the essays I read back in June. This was the only book by Holleran that my library had.

I feel like I read this out of context in a few ways. After reading an interview with Holleran, I realized that his characters appear in several books. This is the last book that Holleran has published and it feels like the end of the story. Then there is the fact that I am not a gay man and so I think I miss some of the references. Lastly, this book
Andrew Holleran's brief novel Grief was a joy to read. Indeed I finished it within the space of twelve hours. Holleran has crafted a melancholy story of a middle-aged professor who attempts to come to terms with death, desire and grief. In the world we live in, filled with the reality of death due to AIDS stories like Holleran's are a welcome narrative about the nature of grief. There is something sooothing and comforting about Holleran's narrative and his prose. His book is a slow moving study ...more
Grief by Andrew Holleran. This story is being told by a narrator whose mother died. He and his landlord are the main characters in this book. The setting is in Washington, D. C. The narrator has moved to Washington to teach a class and to try to move on after the death of his mother. However, he finds that it is not so easy to stop grieving and move on. He feels he made a mistake in moving there because he felt lost. His whole life had changed. Before his mother's death, his whole routine had be ...more
"When some terrible misfortune happens it's not just the victim who suffers. There's a ripple effect. Everyone around the victim is affected."

Although Grief is both beautifully and carefully constructed (and at exactly 150 pages, constructed it is), it has a tentative feel, much like that last breath before a long dive. It's as though the author doesn't wish to offend anyone, but in so doing, he doesn't quite reach the level of immediacy one needs in this sort of work. The characters haunt both
Holleran's prose is exquisite but while I appreciated his musings on grief, I was drawn much more to his reflections on life in Washington, D.C. As one who has wandered around the city for more than four decades, his observations regarding its neighborhoods, residents and history struck a cord with me. By way of explanation, I offer the following passage -

"It was only when I happened to walking with a historian through Lafayette Square one day that I learned Henry Adams had lived in a townhouse
Feb 13, 2013 Kevin rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: queer
This has its moments, but is disappointing. I'm a big Holleran fan. His dialogue is exceptional. I enjoy how meditative he is and the slow, building nature of his style. That's all present here, but this one left me wanting. I think ultimately the book is about a man who takes a vacation from his grief by taking up in DC for a few months after the death of his mother and how this affords him the distance to look at grief historically and conceptually. It's a heady challenge, and I don't think an ...more
I was recommended this book by a friend in Chicago, who told me I needed to read it if not only for its vivid descriptions of DC. He wasn't wrong. The novel really beautifully depicts the 90's in the Dupont Circle area of DC and the city itself is one of, if not the actual, main characters in the novel. I didn't find the book as depressing at the title/premise would lead you to believe. If you're a fan of gay literature or DC-based literature, this is a quick, thought-provoking read.
The title basically sums it up rather well. It's a book about mourning: an aging professor takes on a teaching position in Washington DC after the death of his mother. Lonely and out of place in his world, he walks through an echo of life, past the city's architecture, his interactions with students in his course, through his interactions with his DC friends, and in his co-habitation with his landlord. He finds some solace in the letters and journals of Mary Todd Lincoln who never overcame her o ...more
The main character moves to Washington after the death of his mother. Still trying to come to terms with his grief, he becomes slightly obsessed with his landlord, his landlor's dog, and thinks far too much about the book of Mrs Lincoln's letters he is reading. This is moving and understated little novel that covers grief, AIDS and how as you get older, your loved ones start to pass away.
I finished this while working an over night shift, the other night. It's short and the story is easy to follow. The book left me wondering about all the lost lives to AIDS in the 70's. Taking care of the victims of HIV is a major theme in the book. It explores the idea of someone living on in your heart even after death.
Anthony Willis
Yawn. This book bored me tremendously. In keeping with my goal of not stopping halfway and finishing all the books I begin, I pushed through. Only 150 pages should have been finished in a day - not a week. I'll be the first to admit, especially after reading other reviews and high praises for this book, that maybe I just didn't 'get it'. Honestly, everything just fell flat. A middle-aged gay male loses his mother, and takes a temporary job in D.C. to cope with it all? While finding comfort in le ...more
I think this book is almost as much a love letter to our nation's capital as it is a personal journey through the comprehension and acceptance of death. Holleran truly captures the confusion one feels in the aftermath of losing a loved one, which includes grasping for any words that make sense of loss. His choice to turn to the letters of Mary Todd Lincoln is as logical as any, and allows for a deeper understanding of what it means to feel guilt in the light of death.

The book, in just a few sho
If you have lost a loved one and know grief personally, then this book will keep you company, in the way that grieving people crave such company. It is a slice of life that makes you feel that you are not alone; it does not avoid you because you are grieving.
Did not like this book; had no idea why it got such good reviews. Interesting perspective as told through the gay life in DC of a certain generation - that had witnessed alot of death from AIDS - a fine tribute to the architecture of DC - and a quirky linkage of Mary Todd Lincoln's suffering post the assassination of her husband with the narrator's own grief - which never felt real. He just felt lost and drifting and it was hard not to find it all a bit pathetic. Obvious metaphors of dogs cooped ...more
This is a novel about grief, specifically about the grief of a professor who has lost his mother, for whom he was a caregiver, but also about the grief of losing friends to AIDS as the professor and many of his friends are homosexuals of the right age to have lost many friends to AIDS.

I had hoped there would be some universal truth about grief and grieving that I hadn't found yet and that would open doors for me. But there was no ah-ha moment. While there was no revelation, I did identify with a
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USA Geography Cha...: Grief by Andrew Holleran 1 1 Dec 29, 2014 09:58PM  
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Andrew Holleran is the pseudonym of Eric Garber, a novelist, essayist, and short story writer. He is a prominent novelist of post-Stonewall gay literature. He was a member of The Violet Quill, a gay writer's group that met briefly from 1980-81.
More about Andrew Holleran...
Dancer from the Dance The Beauty of Men In September, the Light Changes Nights in Aruba Chronicle of a Plague, Revisited: AIDS and Its Aftermath

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