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Simon's Night

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  390 ratings  ·  33 reviews
"A marvel. Out of Old Age, which our peculiar times have determined to view as a sort of generational sin, Jon Hassler has drawn forth a poignant, funny, wise novel about Eternal Youth."
Simon Shea, a retired professor of English at a small Minnesota college, has begun to forget things and is making dangerous errors in living. Thinking he needs to
Paperback, 313 pages
Published June 23rd 1997 by Ballantine Books (first published 1979)
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At age 76, in the year 1976, retired literature professor Simon Shea decides to leave the northern Minnesota riverside cabin where he has lived alone for years and check in to a rest home. "Simon's Night" covers almost a week in Simon's life (and a lifetime via flashbacks); it happens to be the week during which Jimmy Carter was elected president.
This novel was about me. I live in northern Minnesota. I live alone. I have not found it necessary to enter a rest home, but that could change any day
Hassler is so good at creating characters who are real. This is one of his best in my opinion.
Joy H.
I enjoyed this story. Simon is an appealing character.

3/26/11 - Adding the following:
From the GR description:
"Simon Shea, a retired professor of English ... has begun to forget things and is making dangerous errors in living. Thinking he needs to be cared for more closely, he commits himself to a private rest home, and opens a world of the strange, delightful, frightening, and comic, as he attempts to recover from his mistake."

Jon Hassler is a wonderful wordsmith. He expresses things so well, es
Wonderfully written, with great compassion for the humanity of each of his characters. There are goofy moments, but also poignant ones that brought me to the edge of tears.

The novel spans only a week of real time, though a good quarter of it is spent in flashbacks to influential times in Simon Shea's life. We learn a tremendous amount the man, and how he's come to be who he is. The path, like each of ours, is not straight, nor easy, nor well-planned, nor wise, nor even internally consistent, but
For me, the most memorable of Hassler's books. Loved the storyline and actions of the main character - not sure how many people would "check themselves in" as Simon did, but his reaction and outcome are definitely worth the read. Great fun, but sad as well. Hassler captures aging very well in this book. Good book.
This was an enjoyable light book about a retired professor in Minnesota, Simon Shea, who checks himself into a retirement home as he is worried he cannot cope living on his own in the hills. He soon realises that the other residents have given up on life, and his young female doctor tells him that he should escape while he still can. Over the next few days, there are a variety of incidents which would undoubtedly be hilarious on film, as well as various conversations and recollections, all of wh ...more
Linda Brough
A friend recommended this book to me. She said it was a very entertaining book and I would love it. I have read other reviews of this book and they seemed to be very positive. However, it was a difficult book for me to get into. I persisted and finally finished it but it wasn't a favorite. The story is about a professor who had married later in life, but after two years his wife left him and was gone for over 30 years. He grows old and moves himself into an eclectic home for the elderly. The boo ...more
Simon Shea is a retired college professor who moves into a rest home for the elderly because he fears that he is losing his memory. He quickly realizes that he doesn't fit in at the rest home. The book covers a week in his life. Much of it is flashbacks which, while they provided good background material, seemed to drag on too long.
Jeff Messerman
There's only been a handful of times in my reading life where I've dreaded finishing a novel because I couldn't bear not having certain characters in my daily life.

This was one of them.

I abnormally prolonged the inevitable but today I let Simon Shea and the rest of the inhabitants of the Norman Home for the aged drift into the shadows forever. These people were never fiction to me. Simon's Night, just like Staggerford before it, is a novel that is literally ALIVE. Hassler's gift was making print
I have read this story twice and enjoyed it both times. This is Jon Hassler at his best. It's the tale of a retired English professor who, after becoming forgetful, moves into a retirement home to wait out the rest of his days. The place is inhabited by a group of characters, each with their own quirkiness, who are living life from meal to tv to meal to bed. As Simon tries his best to resign himself to such a life, he reminisces about the love of his life, to whom he is still married but hasn't ...more
Nancy Hansen
Very interesting novel. All about growing old and becoming an old fuddy duddy OR living life to the fullest till your very, very last breath.
Nicely written, memorable characters. Simon is quite likeable and handles his situations, some rather strange, with as much grace and poise as he can muster.
Simon Shea, a retired professor of English at a small Minnesota college, has begun to forget things & is making dangerous errors in living. Thinking he needs to be cared for more closely, he commits himself to a private rest home, & opens a world of the strange, delightful, frightening, & comic, as he attempts to recover from his mistake.
I read this quite a long time ago but I did enjoy it - I have liked all of this author's bo
This is my favorite Hassler novel and since I had just read two other Hassler books days ago, I figured might as well re-read this. I find it an inspiring story of an old professor who voluntarily goes into an old person's home, but upon meeting new friends and certain events, he's eventually convinced there's still some fight in him. My favorite line: "And short of despair, there's no alternative but hope."
I was laid up in the hospital with an appendectomy and a friend brought Simon's Night for my reading pleasure. And a pleasure it was. What I remember most is the integrity of Simon who took his marriage vows seriously and would not be unfaithful to them. That may have been a minor element in the story, but it stuck with me.
I really enjoyed this book about the fear of ageing. It was so true and yet very funny. I can remember laughing out loud reading one scene about the nursing home where the main character was living for a time. Hassler writes so you feel you're right there in the story. This one is probably one of my favorites of his.
It depressed me thinking of getting older. However the message in the book is that life is not over just because you are getting old. It definitely is geared to the older person who would find humor in some of the experiences that Simon goes through. I recommend it to my older friends. Just a cute book.
Amy Talluto
Aug 24, 2007 Amy Talluto rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
This book was a fun read. It's about an English professor named Simon Shea who retires to an old folks home too early. The characters are funny and the dialogue is witty with poignant moments as well...The ending seemed a little pat for my tastes, but all in all thumbs up.
This amusing tale of a Minnesota man joining a retirement home but discovering he is not quite ready for it feels a bit slight only because it followed Jon Hassler's excellent debut, "Staggerford." Quite nice, then, but Hassler would return to bigger heights afterward.
Oh, how I loved this book. I think about it whenever I feel old age creeping around the corner. Simon Shea, a retired English professor, puts himself into a private rest home and then tries to cope with the mental and social consequences. Very funny.
This was a re-read for me, and it did not disappoint the second time through. Hassler once again combines pathos and humor. Although it is set during election week of 1976 (the U.S. bicentennial) and reflects that era, the book is true and timeless.
This book looks at aging and how one intelligent man faces his "declining years" a bit prematurely. He checks himself into a nursing home situation with funny, sad, and unexpected results.
When I read this I really liked it. Looking back, however, I think what I really liked was the ending. This book resonated with me in ways that I wish it hadn't.
I read books by the author many years ago. I appreciate this book, read for a book group, because of its look at aging. The characters are quirky, which I love.
This book was a comforting and gentle story of remembrance, self-awareness and ideals. I will keep it on my shelf and regard it like an old friend - fondly.
Very nice and touching story of an old man who decided not to surrender to old age but to try to live with dignity and perspective. Very well written.
Lots of humor in this book! It was impossible to guess what would happen next and made me often laugh out loud. A very enjoyable read.
Love this book. You will, too. I've read it four or five times over the years. Such good writing.
4.5 stars as I remember and one I want to read again now that I am retired.
Patrick Kudell
Another enjoyable example of Hassler's troupe of characters.
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Jon Hassler was born in Minneapolis, but spent his formative years in the small Minnesota towns of Staples and Plainview, where he graduated from high school. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from St. John's University in 1955. While teaching English at three different Minnesota high schools, he received his Master of Arts degree in English from the University of North Dakota in ...more
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