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A Singular Man

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  587 ratings  ·  27 reviews
What will happen to George Smith? Mysteriously rich and desperately lonely, George appears to be under attack from all quarters: his former wife and four horrible children are suing to get his money; his dipsomaniacal housekeeper is trying to arouse his carnal interest; his secretary, the beautiful, blond Miss Thomson, will barely give him the time of day. Making matters e ...more
Paperback, 408 pages
Published January 14th 1994 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published 1963)
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Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  587 ratings  ·  27 reviews

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Dead John Williams
May 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-favs, reviewed
This is another book that had a profound influence on me when I was younger.

Just out of interest I recently went back and read it again.

It is easy to read this book as just about the content, malarky, high jinks, sex and wealth. But there is a poetic melancholia that runs underneath everything in this book. I think it was the first book that resonated within me as in someone had given a name to something that I had felt at the core of me ever since I can remember.

I feel a bit different these day
MJ Nicholls
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sophomore novel of absurdities and crudities, a plotless rambling meander in the realm of a loathsome rich philanderer named George Smith. Donleavy’s narrative technique of mashing staccato third-person omniscient with internal monologue creates waves of bristling and vital prose, and thickets of nonsensical and irritating nonspecificness. The humour is more strained and wackier than The Ginger Man—a choice that ultimately makes this novel a chore to complete, as pleasurable are its first coup ...more
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it

I was on the fence about including Donleavy's second novel on my 1963 reading list. I guess it was seeing somewhere on the web that his first novel, The Ginger Man, was Hunter S Thompson's favorite book that decided me. I know that does not make much sense, being the raging feminist that I am, but I am also a bit of an intellectual anarchist plus I don't hate men.

So I read A Singular Man and it was good, maybe almost amazing. George Smith is another character, like Sebastion Dangerfeld in The
Alex Sarll
Donleavy's great accomplishment in his second novel is to make the reader sympathise with one of the 1%. And it is sympathy, rather than envy. Everyone wants a piece of George Smith and, while he may have more cash than the average Donleavy lead, as well as the usual quota of impossible yearning, he seems lacking in some crucial quality - call it gumption? Thus rendered something of an eternal victim, without the lunatic vigour of a Schultz whereby to convert upward from passivity to heroism. Fo ...more
Sue Dounim
On a recent rare late winter evening, sitting in my firelit cavernous library, a brace of Borzois at my feet, my fingers playing over the leather spines of my choice library, I happened upon the 24 inches or so of Donleavy's works that I so cherish. At random I drew down this novel, not having read it for lo these many decades. And what a delight it is again. To once again immerse myself in the wistful elliptical impressionistic sentence fragments of a truly unique writer.
I wonder what a younge
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the oddest of the late author's many odd novels. No one does urban sadness and desolation - the kind of unpopulated Saturday morning we all wish we'd never experienced - quite like Donleavy, and A Singular Man is studded with the tiny details that make life, love, loneliness so unbearable. Sally Tomson (a.k.a. Dizzy Darling) is one of 20th Century literature's great leading ladies and her existence on the page proves J.P.D. could easily shake off charges of misogyny and stereotyping when ...more
Allan MacDonell
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The 1960s were a prime time to be an experimental fiction craftsman, apparently, and if I’d read J. P. Donleavy’s A Singular Man when it came out at the end of 1963, I might have zipped through the dense, blurred, stiff and precise exercise in stylized vagueness in a hurry to move on to the next Donald Barthelme book. As it is, this novel consumed ten days that seemed like more. All the while, I was thinking Virginia Woolf did this better and sooner. A Singular Man’s titular male protagonist has ...more
Isaac djejjdnsn
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very comforting book, relaxing. A kinda of enjoy the ride book. George Smith is dealing with an empty life whilst trying to chase his dream girl. Building a memorial grave site for himself and having to deal with the press and a mysterious persona threatening him. The book really invest you in George and these wacky side characters but the ending really made it all worth it.
Philip E.
May 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Love Donleavy's writing style. Short, sharp sentences. Doesn't pad things out with unnecessary verbiage that many writers seem to think is required. Despite the brevity he paints a vivid picture. And rather than using grand themes he uses the ordinary in a unique way. ...more
Jul 19, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: elibrary
Mar 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Havent had so much sex in a book in a while
Oct 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Read back in the 70s
Nov 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Sad but funny. Colourful but absurd. Engrossing but irritating. Rich and poor. But ultimately memorable and brilliant!
Gila Gila
Nov 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Hilarious as always, but also harsher in the glaring light of day, more pessimistic than the other Donleavy I've read, despite having much of the same set-up; our hero is an orphan, a gentleman - even when falling in shite - and finds himself the sexual object of just about any and every attractive female who falls across his path. This should be objectionable, but as always is written with such self deprecation, even smatters of self loathing, that I fell for poor not-so-sweet George Smith. Old ...more
Axel Ainglish
Dec 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Another nice and original novel of an author I like quite a lot. Donleavy has the virtue of creating rare characters and equally rare plots that no matter, work out pretty well. He manages the stories so well that they never lack in interest. And often, they are a mix of poetry and fun. This one goes about an excentrique millionaire who while planning (and make it being built) his mausoleum, starts receiving odd letters vaguely threatening. But this is just a pretext to tell us a quite crazy and ...more
Greg D'Avis
Jun 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
So it seems (on the basis of this and The Ginger Man) that Donleavy's a genius, and I wish it hadn't taken me so long to get into him. Drags a bit in the middle, where it feels like he's just stretching, but beyond that it's both wildly funny and desperately sad. Toward the end, as it's just beautiful line after beautiful line, I felt pretty wrung out. Now to go through all of JPD's books and hope that they continue to approach this level. ...more
B George
May 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
how could one review a novel such as this. the plot is loose and at times absurd. there is really no beginning middle an end. our protagonist finds himself in constant conflict, albeit no always resolved. but the writing is terrific. heavy and at times must be reread to truly understand. oh so worth it. donleavy is one of the most fun authors i have read.
Mike Marsbergen
Jan 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Still a favourite. It's got one of his most creative premises, some of his funniest moments, as well as one of the saddest scenes I've read in a book. If you have to read one Donleavy book, this might be the one. ...more
Jan 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Not one of Donleavy's best, but still pure Donleavy. Rather odd, but also likable. ...more
James Stanley
Aug 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This is so good.
Peter Jones
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
I loved this once some time ago too; will read again and assess my feelings....
Gabriel Thayer
If you loved Ginger Man there is more here to love. Great book and as quirky as always!!!!
Jul 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: abandoned, american
started off entertaing. dropped off. weak book
Oct 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
I was really surprised that while almost everyone who read this book on Goodreads liked it, nobody reviewed it. Oh well, no reason to buck the trend.
Oct 10, 2010 added it
Love everything J.P Donleavy...
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James Patrick Donleavy was an Irish American author, born to Irish immigrants. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II after which he moved to Ireland. In 1946 he began studies at Trinity College, Dublin, but left before taking a degree. He was first published in the Dublin literary periodical, Envoy.

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