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A Single Man

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  20,801 ratings  ·  1,598 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, determined to persist in the routines of his daily life. An Englishman and a professor living in suburban Southern California, he is an outsider ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published March 20th 2001 by Univ Of Minnesota Press (first published 1964)
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This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Greg Kenny says he doesn't think about the past. And at the end of this book, George decides in his own way not to either.
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Community Reviews

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4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  20,801 ratings  ·  1,598 reviews


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Jeffrey Keeten
Mar 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-to-film
“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
Luca Ambrosino
English (A Single Man)/ Italiano

George, a middle-aged professor, has an ordinary life, but now he must relate to loneliness because of the untimely passing of his partner. Glimmers of light thanks to few daily joys can be seen in his gray days: a female friend who invites him to dinner to distract him, but awkwardily ends up kissing him, ignoring his homosexuality and pretending more than what George can offer her. Or a college student who spends the night at George's house, giving him a few hou

...more
Toby
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, lit
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
Steven Godin
Even though there are positive reviews aplenty I still had concerns this would turn out to be an overly melodramatic letdown, but needn't have worried as what we have here is a compressed work of utter brilliance from a vastly undervalued writer who does not waste a single word making the reading experience flawless. There are two thing in particular to highlight that nailed it for me, firstly I do not believe Isherwood set out with the intention of writing a story wholly about about homosexuali ...more
Paul
Feb 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic, isherwood
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
Julio Genao
Aug 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Students of skribblecraft
Shelves: loved
I aspire.

It's listed as being 192 pages long, but I swear it's because the edition I read had fifty words a page with three inch margins an every side.

It's so economical it is more or less mind-blowing.

If my desire to express whimsy came from Terry Pratchett and P.G. Wodehouse, and my inclination to be daring and irreverent came from David Foster Wallace and Stephen King

If my unruly imagination came from Bill Watterson, and my eye for alienation from Susan Cooper

If my lust for scale came from
...more
Bill  Kerwin
Sep 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing

This witty, acerbic, elegant little novel should not be confused with the soggy, self-pitying movie of the same name.
Evan
Feb 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  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 it 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
...more
Fabian {Councillor}
He pictures the evening he might have spent, snugly at home, fixing the food he has bought, then lying down on the couch beside the bookcase and reading himself slowly sleepy. At first glance, this is an absolutely convincing and charming scene of domestic contentment. Only after a few instances does George notice the omission which makes it meaningless. What is left out of the picture is Jim, lying opposite him at the other end of the couch, also reading; the two of them absorbed in their boo
...more
Brian
Sep 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jacob Overmark
We never meet Jim in person.

This is George after Jim. A middle-aged man caught between daydreams and nightmares, adhering to the conformity of life in the daytime, drowning his sorrows - well knowing that the little devils can swim - in alcohol at night.

Taking exercise, working hard, and allowing himself daydreaming a little once again, cause there MUST be a life after Jim, except there isnt.

How do you cope when your lover is gone, killed in a car crash, a lover you even cant admit the love t
...more
Netta
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018
I wouldn’t dare to write anything about someone’s absence and how it bares you, as it is already there, tightly packed into this mesmerizing little book. We never truly experience what absence is till it’s too late, don’t we? That’s why we are never prepared. A Single Man, to me, is a novel about Jim-less George and his pain which feels too real to absorb - palpable and ugly, physical and raw, at times almost disgusting. What’s more important (and what I discovered reading this book for the seco ...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
BrokenTune
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Waking up begins with saying am and now.
That which has awoken then lies for a while staring up at the ceiling and down into itself until it has recognised I, and therefrom deduced I am, I am now. Here comes next, and is at least negatively reassuring; because here, this morning, is where it had expected to find itself; what’s called at home. But now isn’t simply now. Now is also a cold reminder; one whole day later than yesterday, one year later than last year.
Every now is labelled with its date
...more
Eric
Sep 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ficciones
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
Leslie
Jul 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a gem of a book. The style of writing is quite lyrical in a sense and beautiful itself, let alone having a great story line!
I finished it quickly and highly recommend the Audiobook version. Narration is stunning & adds a lot to it in my opinion!
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
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
Barry Pierce
Probably the greatest and saddest ending to a book I have ever read.
Kimley
Dec 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20th-century, british
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
Sofia
Mar 08, 2014 rated it really liked it

Masterly writing, capable of taking me in the first pages to the 'place' where George lives. Isherwood's writing is full of the little truths of our everyday lives and his wit and social commentary channelled through George rings true not only for when the time this was written but for now also, after all circumstances change but human interaction remains the same. I ended up highlighting most of the book, so I will not quote. If you want quotes, just read the book.

(view spoiler)
...more
KatieMc
Oct 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: librarybook
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
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
Suzanne
Wow. I really wanted to finish this book, not because I loved it, but because I have a thing where I need to finish. I was reading to finish, not with eagerness. This was a deep story, in which I really needed to be focused and prepared to fully appreciate the authors clever imagery of a man conflicted within himself and his life. He was a little neurotic, but not unlikeable. I felt it was a bit strange, but I'm happy to try new things. So in a way I'm glad I read it. Now to get to the point..! ...more
Eleni Ouzouni (Life is Art)
Jul 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Only 152 pages. So many emotions. I don't have words to describe.... This book Worth!
Maria (Big City Bookworm)


I’ve been meaning to read A Single Man for quite some time now. I watched the film quite a while ago without realizing that it was based on a novel. I didn’t really remember much from the film before I decided to listen to the audiobook, but I did remember that the film was visually beautiful. I remember the cinematography being aesthetically pleasing and gorgeous, so if anything, I was hoping to get the same sense of beauty out of the audiobook.

I must say that A Single Man was very well written
...more
Melanie
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
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
Alex
Oct 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
“I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking… Some day all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed.”

That's the famous mission statement from Christopher Isherwood, who steadfastly refuses to fix it - to tell you what it's all about. It's intriguing. One finds oneself naked with a younger person. Why has the person become naked? What is the person's goal? This seems unusual. It's all a little bit oblique. It's intriguing but frustrating. Does anyon
...more
Annelies
Such a clarity in feelings and character! Not that the feelings are simple, I don't mean that. But Isherwood masters marvellous the art of making clear the feelings and thoughts of his main person, George, a middle-adged homosexual professor who's lover just died. You live with hem and feel through him, think his thoughts; it's really a superb and unique experience. I certainly must try other works of Isherwood. 5 plus!
tim
Dec 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
“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!” 240 likes
“But now isn’t simply now. Now is also a cold reminder: one whole day later than yesterday, one year later than last year. Every now is labeled with its date, rendering all past nows obsolete, until — later of sooner — perhaps — no, not perhaps — quite certainly: it will come.” 148 likes
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