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A Single Man

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"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 in every way, and his internal reflections and interactions with others reveal a man who loves being alive despite everyday injustices and loneliness. Wry, suddenly manic, constantly funny, surprisingly sad, this novel catches the true textures of life itself."--BOOK JACKET.

186 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1964

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About the author

Christopher Isherwood

128 books1,267 followers
British-born American writer Christopher William Bradshaw Isherwood portrayed Berlin in the early 1930s in his best known works, such as Goodbye to Berlin (1939), the basis for the musical Cabaret (1966). Isherwood was a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, autobiographer, and diarist.

With W.H. Auden he wrote three plays— The Dog Beneath the Skin (1932), The Ascent of F6 (1936), and On the Frontier (1938). Isherwood tells the story in his first autobiography, Lions and Shadows .

After Isherwood wrote joke answers on his second-year exams, Cambridge University in 1925 asked him to leave. He briefly attended medical school and progressed with his first two novels, All the Conspirators (1928) and The Memorial (1932). In 1930, he moved to Berlin, where he taught English, dabbled in Communism, and enthusiastically explored his homosexuality. His experiences provided the material for Mister Norris Changes Trains (1935) and Goodbye to Berlin (1938), still his most famous book.

In Berlin in 1932, he also began an important relationship with Heinz Neddermeyer, a young German with whom he fled the Nazis in 1933. England refused entry to Neddermeyer on his second visit in 1934, and the pair moved restlessly about Europe until the Gestapo arrested Neddermeyer in May 1937 and then finally separated them.

In 1938, Isherwood sailed with Auden to China to write Journey to a War (1939), about the Sino-Japanese conflict. They returned to England and Isherwood went on to Hollywood to look for movie-writing work. He also became a disciple of the Ramakrishna monk, Swami Prabhavananda, head of the Vedanta Society of Southern California. He decided not to take monastic vows, but he remained a Hindu for the rest of his life, serving, praying, and lecturing in the temple every week and writing a biography, Ramakrishna and His Disciples (1965).

In 1945, Isherwood published Prater Violet, fictionalizing his first movie writing job in London in 1933-1934. In Hollywood, he spent the start of the 1950s fighting his way free of a destructive five-year affair with an attractive and undisciplined American photographer, William Caskey. Caskey took the photographs for Isherwood’s travel book about South America, The Condor and The Cows (1947). Isherwood’s sixth novel, The World in the Evening (1954), written mostly during this period, was less successful than earlier ones.

In 1953, he fell in love with Don Bachardy, an eighteen-year-old college student born and raised in Los Angeles. They were to remain together until Isherwood’s death. In 1961, Isherwood and completed the final revisions to his new novel Down There on a Visit (1962). Their relationship nearly ended in 1963, and Isherwood moved out of their Santa Monica house. This dark period underpins Isherwood’s masterpiece A Single Man (1964).

Isherwood wrote another novel, A Meeting by the River (1967), about two brothers, but he gave up writing fiction and turned entirely to autobiography. In Kathleen and Frank (1971), he drew on the letters and diaries of his parents. In Christopher and His Kind (1976), he returned to the 1930s to tell, as a publicly avowed homosexual, the real story of his life in Berlin and his wanderings with Heinz Neddermeyer. The book made him a hero of gay liberation and a national celebrity all over again but now in his true, political and personal identity.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,810 reviews
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
December 22, 2018
“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 make plans, even sometimes we have moments when the future becomes crystal clear and we can feel brief contentment in the present. George is no different. He has made plans, many plans, beautiful plans, perfect plans that were scattered to the winds by seemingly random events. When we are with the right person our dreams can dovetail together and even the unachievable can seem so possible. An assembly of stars can be seen as mythological creatures and the future can be sketched outside the mind and achieve timbers, doors and windows. Those windows, if you peer out them from the corner of your eye, may even let you see further into your destiny.

Jim died.

Not some random Jim, not the Jim that was the friend of a friend or the Jim that sold newspapers at the local kiosk.

He was the Jim of the past, the present, and the future.

It was meant to be. Right?

There are two Georges. The one that knows what to say, knows what to do, and the other George of the internal monologue. The truth embracer. The one brimming with hurt and pain. Sometimes he sneaks past the public persona and says exactly what he feels.

“Do you think it makes people nasty to be loved? You know it doesn’t! Then why should it make them nice to be loathed? While you’re being persecuted, you hate what’s happening to you, you hate the people who are making it happen; you’re in a world of hate. Why, you wouldn’t recognize love if you met it! You’d suspect love! You’d think there was something behind it—some motive—some trick.”

Most of the time it is concealed. It is only when he is teaching at the local college that sometimes the discussion will trip the right buttons and the real George rippling with a chainmail of indignation will throw his voice up at the universe.

“George smiles to himself, with entire self-satisfaction. Yes, I am crazy, he thinks. That is my secret; my strength.”

He’s not crazy. He’s just bruised and battered. He’s angry and lost. Haunted by memories of what was and what could have been.

“The perfect evening...lying down on the couch beside the bookcase and reading himself sleepy...Jim lying opposite him at the other end of the couch, also reading; the two of them absorbed in their books yet so completely aware of each other's presence.”

George has moments when the two personas rally together and optimism that is hard to deny comes bubbling to the surface giving him surge of hope that there is time to still formulate a new future.

“I am alive, he says to himself, I am alive! And life energy surges hotly through him, and delight, and appetite. How good to be in a body - even this old beat-up carcass - that still has warm blood and live semen and rich marrow and wholesome flesh!”

And he still has books even though his relationship with them has changed. They don’t give him the solace that they used to, but they are still living entities that talk to him allbeit usually while on the porcelain throne.

“These books have not made George nobler or better or more truly wise. It is just that he likes listening to their voices, the one or the other, according to his mood. He misuses them quite ruthlessly - despite the respectful way he has to talk about them in public - to put him to bed, to take his mind off the hands of the clock, to relax the nagging of his pyloric spasm, to gossip him out of his melancholy, to trigger the conditioned reflexes of his colon.”

George still notices the beautiful youths walking around his campus. He even has visions about the local toughs standing on the street corners.

”The scowling youths on the corners see him as a dodderer, no doubt, or at best as a potential score. Yet he still claims a distant kinship with the strength of their young arms and shoulders and loins. For a few bucks he could get any one of them to climb into the car, ride back with him to his house, strip off butch leather jacket, skin-tight levis, shirt and cowboy boots and take part, a naked, sullen young athlete, in the wrestling bout of his pleasure.”

But that isn’t what he wants anymore. ”I demand Jim.”

We are all really two people. There is the person who speaks for us and there is the person who says what we are really thinking, a constant echo in our head as we puzzle over what we see. We are sometime rather brutal with the outside world, with people. If we are lucky we can keep it contained behind the facade, just keep playing the movie for an audience of one. The horrible thoughts we have, mostly just a bit of catty nonsense, but sometimes vindictively pessimistic give us sardonic pleasure. We smile and we say thank you or aren’t you sweet or we need to do this more often. Sometimes we do mean it, but sometimes the bruised soul within says something quite different from the version of ourselves we present to the world.

We are all George.

I also read and reviewed Christopher Isherwood's novel Mr. Norris Changes Trains. Click the link My Review of Mr. Norris Changes Trains

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Toby.
836 reviews330 followers
April 1, 2014
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 I hold most important. It's not my hair, for once.
“The perfect evening...lying down on the couch beside the bookcase and reading himself sleepy...Jim lying opposite him at the other end of the couch, also reading; the two of them absorbed in their books yet so completely aware of each other's presence.”

Isherwood's novel demonstrates how repressed my fears are, and so does my natural reaction of making a silly joke about my hair. This book does this to me and whilst I love that I am seen reading such wonderful literature on a train when either side of me are people with the latest mega bestsellers with no words bigger than two syllables and all the feeling of my hand after I've slept on it all night, I'm not sure I am mature enough (or willing) to deal with the consequences.
“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!”

I didn't really want to discuss the fact that Christopher Isherwood was a gay man and that his protagonist is a gay man but it seems that a lot of people can't get past that fact. Top shelves = GLBT etc. and perhaps when this was written it really was unique to write about a gay man AS IF HE WAS A NORMAL HUMAN BEING but to me George is not defined by his sexuality, he is defined by his humanity and as such that should really be the end of it. This is not a great piece of gay literature, this is a great piece of literature full stop. If that offends you I shall not apologise.
“No one ever hates without a cause....”

I feel that to discuss this book any further would be to ruin it for you, it is 152 pages of quite large font, all you need to know beyond this is that it's also an incredibly uplifting and life affirming day-in-the-life narrative.
Profile Image for Candi.
621 reviews4,711 followers
August 18, 2021
4.5 stars

“I mean, what is this life of ours supposed to be for? Are we to spend it identifying each other with catalogues, like tourists in an art gallery? Or are we to try to exchange some kind of a signal, however garbled, before it’s too late? You answer me that!”

This book beckoned to me with its promising tone and themes. I heard its siren call of introspection. Reading it with a distracted mind the week before a vacation, I absentmindedly staggered into its trap. By the time I was finished, I was literally quite stunned. Actually, if I’m totally honest, I was downright furious. What I needed was a nice bit of quiet time away to mull this one over. So that’s exactly what I did. I made a point of stopping to think about this whenever there was a break in activity. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Christopher Isherwood wasn’t directly pointing his finger at me through his character, George. Rather, it seemed that George represented an entire slice of our humanity, whether or not we could directly relate to his individual circumstances or not.

“Someone has to ask you a question before you can answer it. But it’s so seldom you find anyone who’ll ask the right questions. Most people aren’t that much interested.…”

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. There’s a reason that there are so many novels shining a glaring spotlight on loneliness. Isolation, alienation, despair – these are almost universally guaranteed to happen to each one of us at some point in our lives, if not off and on for the span of a lifetime. We are more likely to suffer these than we are to be ensured an existence full of love, laughter, the pursuit of happiness, and all such similar banalities. Does that mean the pursuit is not worth it then, after all? Well, at first I thought perhaps this was indeed the case. Why bother, when there is so much suffering in the world? Is it fair for one person to be happy when the next is quite clearly heartsick? Cue this reader descending into a temporary gloom.

“… the overpowering sloth of sadness is upon him. The sloth that ends in going to bed and staying there until you develop some disease.”

Thankfully, there was a perfect gap in time between reading this book and a much needed vacation. This past year has been hellish for a number of people, for a number of reasons. My personal gripes are neither here nor there, rather inconsequential in the general scheme of things. What is important is “now”! We have to live in the moment, don’t we? That’s what I’ve decided to do. I’m not going to pine for “before”. I’m not waiting around for “later” to get here. George did teach me a little something after all. I’m not angry anymore. Well, not really. There are vibrant places to discover, rewarding friendships to nourish, and a whole lot of life left to truly live.

“I am alive, he says to himself, I am alive! And life-energy surges hotly through him, and delight, and appetite. How good to be in a body—even this old beat-up carcass—that still has warm blood and live semen and rich marrow and wholesome flesh!”
Profile Image for Luca Ambrosino.
83 reviews13.7k followers
September 9, 2021
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 hours of company and a renewed desire, which maybe it is too late to pander to. However, they are only momentary flashes: light and dark.

I admit that I did not know Christopher Isherwood. First-class language, essential and sharp prose.

Vote: 7,5


Una vita ordinaria quella di George, un professore di mezza età che deve relazionarsi con la solitudine a causa della scomparsa prematura del compagno. Spiragli di luce dati da piccole gioie quotidiane si intravedono nelle sue giornate grigie: un amica che lo invita a cena e lo distrae, ma goffamente finisce per baciarlo ignorando la sua omosessualità e pretendendo più di quello che George può offrirle. Oppure uno studente universitario che passa la notte a casa sua, donandogli qualche ora di compagnia e un desiderio riacceso ma che forse è troppo tardi per assecondare. Sono però solo intermittenze, luce e buio.

Ammetto che non conoscevo Christopher Isherwood. Linguaggio sopraffino, prosa essenziale e tagliente.

Voto: 7,5

Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,190 reviews1,814 followers
October 7, 2020

Colin Firth nel ruolo di George vinse la Coppa Volpi al Festival di Venezia.

Svegliarsi e cominciare a dire ‘sono’ e ‘ora’. Poi ciò che si è svegliato resta sdraiato per un momento a osservare il soffitto e dentro se stesso finché abbia riconosciuto ‘Io’, e da questo dedotto ‘Io sono’, ‘Io sono ora’. ‘Qui’ viene dopo ed è, almeno in negativo, rassicurante; poiché stamane è ‘qui’ che si aspettava di trovarsi; come dire ‘a casa propria’

Il film conserva il titolo, ma si prende varie libertà rispetto al romanzo. È l’esordio alla regia dello stilista Tom Ford, debutto fulminante.

1961, Los Angeles e dintorni: ventiquattro ore nella vita di George che è appena rimasto vedovo.
Non erano sposati, no, a quell’epoca non era ancora ammesso il matrimonio tra individui del medesimo sesso – la stessa omosessualità era guardata molto male: Jim era il compagno di George, vivevano insieme, si amavano, stavano bene in coppia.
Jim è morto in un’incidente d’auto, George è rimasto solo.
George è rimasto single. Singolo. Solo.

Flashback: George è con Jim, interpretato da Matthew Goode.

George ha sessant’anni:
A dispetto delle rughe, della carne flaccida, dei capelli che diventano grigi, della maschera di fissità e delle labbra strette, s’intravvede qualche volta il fantasma di una persona tenera, giovanile, affascinante.
Vecchio, nel nostro Paese del Mellifluo è diventata una parola sporca quasi come ebreo o negro.

George è omosessuale, e non erano tempi allegri per gli amanti del proprio sesso, si rischiava il manicomio, magari perfino l’elettroshock. George è inglese, quindi straniero: anche se la lingua è la stessa, e lui di professione è docente d’inglese all’università, la California è terra straniera per George, anche dopo anni che ci vive.
George ricorda lo stesso Isherwood: stessa età negli stessi anni, stessa omosessualità, entrambi inglesi insegnanti d’inglese in California. La vita affettiva di Isherwood in quel periodo era più felice di quella di George: era già una decina d’anni che viveva insieme al pittore Don Bachardy, e sarà solo la morte di Christopher a separarli.

L’amica Charley è Julianne Moore, fantastica come sempre.

L’incipit ci porta subito, mi pare, in un mondo dove lo sconforto per la recente perdita è acuto.
Ma non è un libro lacrimatoio, non c’è enfasi, non c’è dolore strillato, non ci sono lacrime a bagnare la pagina: Isherwood rimane asciutto, composto, sobrio, riflessivo, e anche ironico (potrebbe un inglese non esserlo?). Ciò nonostante mantiene un alto tasso emotivo.
E come sa toccare i nervi giusti, come coinvolge questa lettura, come ci sa immergere in questo giorno speciale e al contempo ordinario del suo protagonista: nel quale è facile riconoscersi, anche se non si è omosessuali, anche se non si è subita una perdita così importante, non si ha quell’età…

La casa di George nel film è la Schaffer residence realizzata nel 1949 dall’architetto John Lautner a Glendale. Scelta geniale.

George si sveglia ed è assalito da quelle riflessioni lette nell’incipit. Si prepara, si rade e si lava: è routine, è faticosa, appare vuota, inutile, non c’è futuro, vien voglia di lasciarsi andare… Ma no, via verso l’università: lezione su un romanzo di Aldous Huxley, George propone ai suoi studenti una lettura del libro del suo connazionale che riflette sull’esistenza e i suoi problemi, su emarginazione ed esclusione, pronuncia frasi forti, è palese che le tematiche lo coinvolgono (per inciso, le pagine riverberano la contemporanea crisi missilistica con Cuba, 'diversi' i cubani, 'diversi' i comunisti, 'diversi' i gay)… Ma i ragazzi sono svogliati, distratti… Tranne uno, Kenny, che invece si lascia coinvolgere, è curioso, interessato, e per giunta anche bello… George sente un’iniezione di vitalità, la vita non è finita, la vita ha ancora sorprese: George e Kenny lasciano l’università insieme.
Palestra, bagno al mare, serata con l’amica Charley (personaggio che il film amplifica, e l’interpretazione di Julianne Moore rende indimenticabile)…
Senza illusioni, senza false speranze, con lucidità e concretezza, una magnifica riflessione umana e, volendo, spirituale.

Profile Image for Jean-Luke.
Author 1 book394 followers
June 10, 2021
Oh, Colin Firth (sir), you are just perfect in every (single) way, and Julianne, can I become you in this film? With that eyeliner an inch thick. Let's all get drunk and dance to 'Green Onions' together. What a name for a song, right? And I don't even dance.

Is that Don Draper on the phone? Ask to speak to Betty! And Mary's husband, long before Downton Abbey, with Nicholas Hoult and his Justin Bieber hair. (Can we please start calling it Kenny/Nicholas Hoult hair?) And that sweater! Where do I get one? A Nicholas Hoult, I mean, but I'd settle for a sweater, I guess. Let's not forget the scene with John Kortajarena and Janet Leigh--absolute perfection--wait, this isn't IMDB, is it?

Of course you must read the book--it'll tear your heart to shreds, but you'll turn the last page knowing that two/three years down the line you'll offer your heart on a silver platter so that the author can rip it to pieces once again. Doris? Doris, who? I don't remember seeing her in the film--seriously, read the book. And then see the film. And at some point in the future (Kenny says the past doesn't really matter to most kids his age anyway) do it all over again.
Profile Image for Paul.
1,216 reviews1,963 followers
June 1, 2021
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.
The novel is about loss, but it is also about being an outsider (in this case gay, a foreigner, middle-aged, alone); most of all it is about being human and we share George’s day, his hopes and fears. The interactions with Charlotte and Kenny are wonderfully poignant (and very funny).
The prose is beautiful. Some stream of consciousness novels can be hard work, but this one just flows; it could so easily have become sentimental because of the focus on loss, but it does not. The everyday occurrences are well described; dinner with a friend, teaching class (George’s interior monologue is wonderful), a flirtation, swimming in the sea (admittedly only everyday if you live near it!) and the normal activities of all our lives; even driving a car.
Isherwood is really asking “How do we live?” “How do we get through life?” There are no answers but the ending is truly great and you will you a long way to find a better one in literature. Isherwood not only describes being alone well, he also captures being in a relationship with another;
“The perfect evening...lying down on the couch beside the bookcase and reading himself sleepy...Jim lying opposite him at the other end of the couch, also reading; the two of them absorbed in their books yet so completely aware of each other's presence.”
The descriptions of the physical geography of the house, as it is lived in alone and the contrast with two people living in the same small space is just brilliant.
This is just a great novel and I would urge everyone to read it. There is a certain level of melancholy, but there is warmth, hope and great humanity.
Profile Image for Jack Edwards.
Author 1 book204k followers
March 5, 2020
I couldn't put this book down and found it absolutely fascinating to study in the context of both feminism (in the depiction of Charley) and queer theory (George and his perceptions of homosocial, and homosexual, relationships). Definitely a contender for my dissertation!!!
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,487 reviews2,373 followers
October 1, 2016
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 homosexuality but to create a universal character in George Falconer who comes across just like everybody else meaning he is easy to relate to. Secondly although deeply shattering in it's portrayal of a man grieving for his partner there is something almost life affirming in how George's bereavement is told that not only showcases how to do sad without being depressing, but also what love and affection means in it's truest sense regardless of the sex of a partner. A phenomenal small novel written with total heart and soul.
Profile Image for Julio Genao.
Author 9 books2,013 followers
August 24, 2015
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 J.R.R. Tolkien, and James Clavell and Robert Jordan

And if my visions of other worlds came from Isaac Asimov, and Ray Bradbury, and Robert A. Heinlein

Then my taste for lyrical, emotive, yet still ecumenical prose came from Christopher Isherwood.

Every line a honed blade. With every word the keen edge, effortlessly slicing, slicing, slicing, until the ribbons of you it leaves behind reveal the images and the feelings and the insight he'd woven into his words from the beginning.

Oh, how I aspire.

How I try so very hard to come close to what he's done in this novel. To how he's done it.

An entire day in the life of a human man. A single man, during which his life and all that it means and all it has come to spreads open for you like a night bloom, a secret between you and the moon, to look upon it and see what's inside.

He wrote it in something like two weeks.

And it's wonderful, and heartbreaking, and now a passenger in my body—a lens over my eyes, the better for me to compare my labors against his.

For me to remember how he created so much with so little.

Probably the greatest influence on my writing, and the bar against which I measure all literature, not just LGBT lit.


Profile Image for Robin.
493 reviews2,721 followers
January 30, 2020
Ever feel lonely? Ever lose someone irreplaceable? Feel like their absence is the lion's share of what you're carrying around in that body of yours, and the only way you can drag that collection of cells through life is by putting on a face, an act, a show?

Christopher Isherwood captured that painful status in this small, marvellous book. George has lost Jim. And now George is bewilderingly alone - not melodramatically so, but the opposite. Mundanely alone. Sitting-on-the-toilet kind of alone. He's alienated - a British guy in America, a gay man in 1960s suburbia, knocking around his house, which is small, yes, but feels cavernous now with no Jim.

So in these pages is the account of one day in the life of George. Taking his collection of cells to work, to the outer world, trying to make his puzzle piece fit, even though it is misshapen by grief.

It's miraculous how relatable it is, how any reader can recognize that void George feels, that play-acting at living he forces himself to do.

And it's not going to depress you in the way you might think. Because it's so damn beautiful - it's about loss, yes, but it's just as much about life, and picking yourself up, and running into the ocean naked at night with someone you barely know - while you still can.

Plus, if you're lucky enough to have seen the film (which is excellent), it brings to mind George on the big screen, and that's never a bad thing:

Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book81.9k followers
June 8, 2019

This witty, acerbic, elegant little novel should not be confused with the soggy, self-pitying movie of the same name.
Profile Image for Evan.
1,071 reviews752 followers
May 22, 2016
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 in mid-century America, a man who thinks of himself as an outsider and a social animal at the same time; as a human, temporarily privileged to be in the land of the living. Death is always on his mind, which makes his yearning to live all the more powerful and poignant.

The book has no plot, per se. It is one day in the life of George, a British professor of English lit teaching at a small college near LA. It begins with him waking up in bed and his realization of the process of becoming conscious, of being alive, of being here and now. It proceeds through memories of his life, and the recent death of his partner, Jim. It takes us through his day, teaching his seemingly oblivious young charges and privileges us with his sly, wry and oddly generous observations on American social mores, customs and materialism of the 1950s-early 1960s. It shows us his distanced relations with his neighbors, his platonic and touching relationship with fellow expat, Charlotte, his journeys to the grocery and to a bar, and his fledgling potential love relationship with a young student.

The book is clearly meant to be read as a first-person POV narrative, yet is told from the omniscient standpoint, referring to George as "he." It's in keeping with George's own tendency to step back and look at himself within the big picture.

Despite the tinge of sadness throughout, the book is often wickedly funny, and always full of magnificent insight.

Finding a Holy Grail book like this is what readers live for. I'm quite floored by it, and very grateful to have found it. A new favorite.

(KevinR@Ky 2016; very slightly amended)

(2016: As of this date I still have not seen the film version, which I possess in my film collection. I'm actually not eager to see it because the book was so fulfilling.)
Profile Image for Fabian {Councillor}.
232 reviews488 followers
July 28, 2022
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 books yet so completely aware of each other's presence.

Christopher Isherwood's "A Single Man" is a relatable and convincing study of the loss of a beloved person in your life and the aftereffects of dealing with the empty void left behind. We are introduced to our protagonist George, a middle-aged man who has been attached to a man, Jim, who has recently died in an accident. The status of his relationship with Jim is never clearly stated, though it is heavily implied they shared a sexual relationship and were a couple until Jim's untimely death. Exploring the theme of homosexuality, Isherwood never ponders about the usual subjects authors can write about when developing gay or lesbian characters: George's relationship with Jim and the other men in his life is depicted as something entirely normal, which is exactly the way it should be done.

George is a college lecturer who tells his students things like "a minority is only thought of as a minority when it constitutes some kind of threat to the majority, real or imaginary. And no threat is ever quite imaginary... minorities are people; people, not angels." His homosexuality is never clearly defined; Isherwood refuses to even once use terms such as gay or homosexual, though the overall subject of the novel is clearly implied in the context and the underlying tone of the narrative.

I'm like a book you have to read. A book can't read itself to you. It doesn't even know what it's about. I don't know what I'm about.

This is a book about clinging to the past, about the importance of forgetting in order to start living again, about how to be truly happy. Philosophical in his novel's depth, yet never exaggeratedly philosophical in his style, Isherwood confronts his readers with a number of important questions about life itself, the importance of past, present and future and how to deal with what lies behind and what lies ahead of you.

The writing style requires some time to get used to. When I first started reading the book a short time after watching the movie starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore, I was thrown back by the writing. Between the most notable parts of the text, Isherwood likes to ramble on and on about the daily life of our protagonist, and as important as it may be for setting the mood, I personally found it difficult to keep my attention on the prose. However, especially in the second half of the novel, the dominance of those parts is more and more reduced, until we come to the ending, an ending which I am likely not going to forget because it simply was so surprisingly well-written.

"A Single Man" is clearly not a novel for everyone, considering that hardly anything is ever happening in this novel and we mostly only get insight on the characters' thoughts and the process of his character development - the latter, by the way, being an aspect which Isherwood understood to embody very believably. It took some time for me to get accustomed to the novel's style and to get the images from the movie out of my head in order to appreciate the book for what it is and to judge it separately from the on-screen adaptation. It's a great book which touches many interesting and important subjects without referring to stereotypical methods to convey them, though in my opinion it's also a book which is hard to recommend to anybody. In "99 Novels: The Best in English Since 1939", Anthony Burgess calls this novel "a fine piece of plain writing which haunts the memory", and I couldn't agree more.
Profile Image for Brian.
Author 1 book1,023 followers
October 1, 2013
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 yesteryear?

Here's the genius of this book: Isherwood writes a fantastic story that reminds the reader that if we live long enough, we will all have an "after-the-moon" chapter in our life. The protagonist George is living through the post-trauma haze of life after the sudden death of his partner Jim. And though the narrative moves through George's mind and eyes, we recognize that it isn't just George that is having to experience this fog. His neighborly female friend Charley is experiencing the same burden of living after her own defining event. We read, and if we relate viscerally, we are in that stage of life. If not, it hasn't happened to us yet.

Isherwood doesn't answer the question of "How do we get through this?" His reflection on this theme on the last page of the novel is one of the best endings I've read in a long while.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews585 followers
August 18, 2021
Interesting… I was pretty sure I wrote a review on this years ago but oh well I’m not writing one today but I absolutely love this book it was so beautiful—gorgeously written.
The movie is too.
Profile Image for Fabian.
956 reviews1,623 followers
January 7, 2020
Day in the Life of Gay. In the 1960s! Artifact indeed--more valuable because it is truly a piece of Isherwood's heart, it is semi autobiographic; our hero George is an Englishman living in L.A.! But he is depressed, he is experienced... this day, like Clarissa Dalloway's, will be special.

Personally, I really admired the way White Privilege is portrayed and dissected in this novel. George is an outsider, but not un-White, not un-learned. He fights for his rightful place... as an Outsider!
Profile Image for Charles.
180 reviews
November 20, 2019
Confident and masterly. A simple story brilliantly told, over the course of a single day. Head over heels, here. I had found the movie breathtaking, back then; only now am I getting around to reading the source material and sure enough, it delivers. Funny to find out just how much the character of Charlotte benefited from Julianne Moore’s sex appeal and Tom Ford’s expert taste, when eventually made into a part. Didn’t quite expect the original Charlotte but easily embraced her, like all the rest.
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,215 reviews9,881 followers
October 29, 2021
I’m supposed to be reading Buddenbrooks but holy cow, it’s so extraordinarily dull, nothing at all seems to happen, and I just thought well, Thomas Mann wouldn’t mind if I took a break, like Ross and Rachel did, and I read this short one in a day or so.

It’s one day and a long night in the life of a mid fifties gay English professor of English in California at the end of November 1962, and it’s a mordantly melancholic rumination on being past it but not wanting to be. At one point he looks in the mirror and thinks legs are quite good, chest muscles don’t sag, but – sadly –

The neck is loose and scraggy under all circumstances, in all lights., and would look gruesome even if he were half-blind. He has abandoned the neck altogether, like an untenable military position.

This story is all about grief – George’s lover Jim recently died in a car crash (naturally the family didn’t expect George to attend the funeral as he was just Jim’s “room mate”). George is trying not to spiral down, he still likes to ogle other men and flirt with his pupils. He is trying to make life go on, as it should go on, like when they tell you “well, life must go on”.

There are some great bits of early sixties casual sexism to be found here. George’s colleague says his wife recently got a job :

“We’re in the chips since I put Marinette to work.”

(What a name, Marinette. Kind of like marionette.)

George says

“So you’re fixing your own breakfast?”

And the guy says

“Oh, I can manage. Till she gets a job nearer. Or I get her pregnant.”

Later George spends an evening with his English neighbour lady friend Charley and we get a page of very judgy comments about her ending up with

Oh, and if she must wear sandals with bare feet, why won’t she make up her toenails?

Well, of course, being gay in the early 60s meant having to adroitly fend off the judginess of absolutely everybody as you earnestly pretended to be straight, so we should let him off.

I was sorry to finish A Single Man, since that means I’ll have to go back to Buddenbrooks now.
Profile Image for Jacob Overmark.
206 reviews9 followers
September 8, 2017
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 isn´t.

How do you cope when your lover is gone, killed in a car crash, a lover you even can´t admit the love to openly? Is “living on” denouncing the love and life you shared?
George don’t know, or can’t decide for himself. He just goes on, not hoping that time will heal, for it will never.

Being lonely though surrounded be people is George´s new identity, the one he slowly and often with a slight hang-over puts on every morning, George without Jim. To have loved and lost.
The pain George feels is unfolded expertly and with such empathy to the reader, that it is hard not the shed a tear.

The novel is often claimed to be Christopher Isherwood’s masterpiece, and I can only support that.
Profile Image for Constantine.
859 reviews166 followers
February 22, 2022
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Genre: Classic

Book Structure:
This book is around 152 pages with no chapters. The first half of the book is more focused on narration and in the second half, there is more dialogue than in the first half.

"I'm like a book you have to read. A book can't read itself to you. It doesn't even know what it's about. I don't know what I'm about."

I have watched the movie adaptation when it was released in 2009 and I loved it a lot but never read this book. I wanted to rewatch that movie again but this time I promised myself to read the book first before watching the movie. The first thing I have to say is that the writing of Christopher Isherwood is so beautiful, very poetic, and has so much depth to it. His words make you feel like you are in the middle of the ocean unaware of where the waves will take you. This is one of those stories that we call a slice of life. We follow the main character George an English professor who lost his partner Jim in an accident. We get to know one day of his life, but as you read you will understand how George is grieving and how he is playing a double life. In that one day we get to know some characters he meets and the way he interacts with them and what do they mean to him.

One thing you have to keep in mind is that the story depends a lot on the stream of consciousness. The book hardly has any plot but the reader gets a glimpse of each character's little story and George's opinion about them. Characters like Doris, Charlotte, and Kenney play an important role in that one day. To me, it felt that this one day of George's life was an important one the way he forgave Doris without explicitly expressing it to her and his meeting with Charlotte and their exchange of opinions & grief regarding those who are not in their life. That day comes to an end in a poetic way that leaves a strong impact on the reader.

I give A Single Man 4.0 beautiful stars out of 5.0.
Profile Image for Netta.
184 reviews134 followers
January 14, 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 second time) is that this novel tells you how much of what you had thought was your truest self is lost in the transition between someone’s presence and absence in your life. It’s not about learning to live without someone, it’s about learning to live with yourself once again, on your own.
Profile Image for Pedro.
197 reviews431 followers
December 7, 2019
A single man.
One day.
One life.

“Staring and staring into the mirror, it sees many faces within his face—the face of the child, the boy, the young man, the not-so-young man—all present still, preserved like fossils on super-imposed layers, and, like fossils, dead.”


“What are they afraid of?
They are afraid of what they know is somewhere in the darkness around them, of what may at any moment emerge into the undeniable light of their flash-lamps, nevermore to be ignored, explained away.”

This is a quiet and exquisite little wonder of a novel that asks for an introspective kind of reader. There’s no fuss, no wasted words and unnecessary drama (or any hot sex scenes). It all happens in a beautiful dream-like kind of way.

It all happens in the reader’s mind.

“To say time is evil because evil happens in time is like saying the ocean is a fish because fish happen in the ocean.”

There is a lot packed in these pages but at the same time everything’s so simple and straightforward that I really don’t want to give too much away.
Just read it.

You’ll not regret it.

One life.
One day.
A single man.

“The point is, do you want to go? If you want to go, you should go.
Never mind anybody else.”
Profile Image for Mevsim Yenice.
Author 4 books1,009 followers
October 7, 2018
Kitabı "lgbtt romanı" kategorisinde okumaya başlamıştım ama çeyreğine gelmeden anlatımın güzelliği ve içine çekmeye çalıştığı başka konular nedeniyle yönümü şaşırarak, atmosfere teslim olarak okumaya devam ettim. Daha doğrusu kitap kendini öyle okuttu.

Bana sorarsanız kesinlikle hedef şaşırtan kitaplardan; çünkü sona kadar defalarca renk değiştiriyor öte yandan hiç şaşmadan da baştan beri "yabancılaşma" hakkında bir şeyler okuyacaksın ip ucunu apaçık vermişti.

Tüm durağanlığına rağmen dipdiri bir anlatımı var, bu sayede George'u Tom Ford'un uyarlamasında kitabı okumadan önce izlemiş olmama rağmen kendiliğimden bambaşka yaratabildim. Kısaca özetlemem gerekirse, her manada (yaşadığı şehir, yaşının hissettirdiği duygular vb) yabancı bir adamla birlikte 24 saat geçirdim, evini, evinin önünde bel yapmış köprüyü, yan komşunun çocuklarını, fakülteyi, öğrencilerini, arkadaşlarını her birini elimle koymuş gibi şimdi gitsem bulabilirim.

Şu kısmı not almıştım, beni sıklıkla tekmeleyen bir konu zira.
"Aslında yaşamı katlanır kılan tek şey, bir insanla gerçekten bağlantı kurabildiğin o birkaç ufak an oluyor."
Hayata ne denli yakınım, ne denli içinde ne denli dışındayım, sorgulattı sağ olsun :)

Bir de nedense kişisel fikrim şu, tam da bu mevsimlerin bu havaların kitabı gibi geldi bana.

Kesinlikle tavsiye ederim. Ayrıca filmini de tavsiye ederim tam bir görsel şölen.
Keyifli okumalar.

Profile Image for James.
95 reviews101 followers
December 2, 2020
I went into this anticipating a well-written but somewhat dated glimpse at what life was like for white gay men in the early 1960's. I knew it was first published in 1964 and considered an early gay classic for its candid, boldly sympathetic depiction of a homosexual man.

What I did not anticipate, however, was for this to be as timeless and transcendent as it is, traversing the distance of decades to resonate deeply with me as a middle-aged, “out” gay man in the 21st century.

Sure, there are references to Cuba, the Cold War, "Negroes," the rise of the suburbs, the stigmatization and even criminalization of homosexuality in American society, etc., that situate this in a very specific time and place. But this slim volume (I read it in one night) tells a much more profound and universal story about the pain and loneliness of feeling like an outsider, a performer, an imposter in a world where one's true self isn't welcomed or fully understood.

This short novel spans a day in the life of George, a gay, middle-aged, semi-closeted English professor still grieving the recent tragic death of his partner. We follow George throughout every ordinary, routine part of his day: taking a morning shit, making breakfast, driving to work, teaching class, visiting the gym, getting drunk with his best female friend, etc.

Think James Joyce's Ulysses, had Leopold Bloom been a single gay man living in Southern California in the early 1960's. Just simpler, shorter, and far more accessible! 😉

We become the most intimate of confidantes for George, learning his deepest emotions and darkest fears. Every bittersweet memory; every cruel, selfish impulse; all of the humor, rage, lust, grief, despair, and unexpected, defiant joy he encounters throughout the course of this ordinary day.

George isn't always the easiest or most pleasant company to keep, and some chapters are more compelling than others. The section where he teaches his college class, for example, drags on way too long and gets bogged down in tedious academic minutiae. But then I suppose the tedium is part of the point!

This is one of those books that sneaks up on you when you're not looking. And what emerges by the end of the day is a mesmerizing, melancholy, quietly devastating meditation on loneliness, loss, aging, desire, and how one navigates and survives in a world where one never truly fits or completely belongs.

(That scene on the beach near the end is one of the most beautiful and haunting passages I've read all year).
Profile Image for Dagio_maya .
931 reviews279 followers
February 28, 2021
“Abbasso il Futuro.
Che se lo tengano Kenny e i ragazzi.
Che Charley si tenga il Passato.
George si attacca solo all'Adesso.
È Adesso che deve trovare un altro Jim.
Adesso che deve amare.
Adesso che deve vivere...”

La prima lettura dell’anno ha un sapore particolare già di per sé.
Mentre attorno tutto è silenzio, apro questo libro con l’emozione di cominciare le nuove letture in programma.
Anno nuovo, libro nuovo e scelgo di cominciare da quest’uomo solo come me in questo primo mattino dell’anno.
Così mi accoccolo sul divano coprendomi con un plaid e con l’acquolina in bocca come se fossi davanti ad una succulenta pietanza.
L’intenzione è quella di assaggiare. La realtà è che ne vengo risucchiata.
Quando rialzo gli occhi sull’orologio sono già le nove. Bilbo gratta la porta chiamandomi per la nostra passeggiata quotidiana nel bosco ma quando torno non posso fare a meno di riaprire il libro e così trascorrerò il mio Capodanno.
George è un insegnante di mezz’età.
Abita in una piccola casa dove lo spazio ridotto non fa che sottolineare un’assenza: Jim, il suo compagno, è morto e la vita continua con un dolore costante, una spina che affonda nel fianco con ostinata determinazione.
Siamo in California nel 1962.
L’omofobia domina e da qualunque lato la si voglia vedere è rafforzata da comportamenti e ruoli sociali prestabiliti che decidono di definire la normalità.
Quando esce di casa per andare alle lezioni in università, George è costretto ad indossare una maschera (” Con l'abilità di un veterano, rapidamente si spalma il make-up psicologico adatto al ruolo che deve interpretare.”) e a recitare il la parte che gli è stata assegnata.
Questo romanzo di Isherwood è una riflessione sulle relazioni sociali, sulla vita e sulla morte.
Mi colpisce molto per un’assonanza con pensieri che sto facendo in questo periodo.

La solitudine non è solo una questione di assenze fisiche a cui appoggiarsi ma qualcosa che va oltre e si estende al proprio essere sociale.
E’ una mancata connessione con la collettività, la percezione costante di essere incompreso nel senso che il mondo non ti include perché non corrispondi ai parametri.
George legittima il cinismo e la rabbia non solo per essere rimasto solo ma per dover affermare giorno dopo giorno il diritto alla propria diversità.
Si arriva ad un età in cui non si può volgere lo sguardo indietro: il passato è doloroso, il futuro e il momento in cui “privato del suo ossigeno, il cuore si contrae e si ferma.”.
Si arriva ad età in cui bisogna aggrapparsi al presente
Sono talmente toccata da questa lettura da lasciar correre alcune affermazioni dell’autore in merito alle donne che sono veramente legate a pregiudizi e stereotipi.
Questo 2019 "libresco" comincia bene.

Camere separate – Tondelli (1989)

Un incipit meraviglioso

”Svegliarsi è cominciare a dire sono e ora. Poi ciò che si è svegliato resta sdraiato per un momento a osservare il soffitto e dentro se stesso finché non abbia riconosciuto Io, e da questo dedotto Io sono-, Io sono ora. Qui viene dopo ed è, almeno in negativo, rassicurante; poiché stamane è qui che si aspettava di trovarsi; come dire a casa propria.
Ma ora non è semplicemente ora. Ora è anche un freddo promemoria; un'intera giornata più di ieri, un anno di più dell'anno scorso. Ogni ora è etichettato con la propria data, rende obsoleti tutti gli ora passati, finché — presto o tardi, forse - no, non forse, certamente: la Cosa accadrà.”
Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
December 31, 2011
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 latter's career as a novelist. They too, became close friends.

A couple of years ago, I read Isherwood's The Berlin Stories which was actually composed of two novels: Mr. Norris Changes Trains (1935) and Goodbye to Berlin (1939). Both of these works were published in Berlin at the time when Hitler was coming or in power and being gay was not tolerated. This probably explains the subtle treatment that Isherwood used in depicting gayness in these novels. The gay theme has to be deduced from closely reading the lines. Very much unlike this book, said to be his best work, A Single Man (1964).

Very thin plot. Almost not a plot at all. It's about a day in the life of a George, 58-y/o literature professor in a suburb school in Southern California. George has recently lost his lover, Jim who died in an vehicular accident while visiting his parent in his hometown in Ohio. At the time of Jim's death they have been living together as a couple for 28 years.

The narration starts from the time George wakes up up to the time when he was sleeping after a day in his life. It was just a day but Isherwood was able to incorporate almost everything there is to know about George from his being alone and sad in the morning, his snooping neighbors whose sons they did not want to go near George's house, his life at school: his students - one of them watching him for his gayness - as well as a fellow professor who he shares his room with in the faculty department. His visit at the gym that he describes to be the most honest place on earth [that's a bit different from my view since most guys in the gym I visit are gays, loud gays]. His friendship with Charley a single, separated 45-y/o lady friend who fancies George. His drinking spree with one of his students, Kenny and swimming naked with him later before retiring back to bed that night. The rest I will not tell you because that for me is the highlight of this novel.

It almost does not have a plot yet it is textured, full and taut. Most of the narratives are first person and his use of stream-of-consciousness is one of the best I've read. Clear, concise, no pretensions. Well, the book got me more interested because I have been wondering what goes on in the mind of a middle-aged gay guys. Most of my gay friends are younger than me so sometimes I wonder what if I were a gay man: how would my life's been different from what I have now. Judging from Wiki's entries about Isherwood's life, this novel seems to be semi-autobiographical so it feels sincere, truthful, honest. And these are brilliantly reflected in this book.

A very memorable read. A fitting book to cap my whole reading experience for 2011 when I read the most number of books in my 47 years of existence on earth. Thank you, Goodreads!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Profile Image for Matthew Ted.
765 reviews656 followers
December 17, 2019
Well. I picked this up earlier to move into the 'reading-next' pile and, on the way to the pile, thought to myself, let's read the first page and see what it's like. And now I've finished reading it the same day.

As I make my way through the top 100 list I am looking for the books I call 'masterpieces', which is my favourite word when referring to literature, as it holds so much weight, honour and power. Books are masterpieces for different reasons and this, I would have to say, is a masterpiece.

Thoughtful, sensitive and moving.
Profile Image for BrokenTune.
754 reviews207 followers
July 29, 2017
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, rendering all past nows obsolete, until – later or sooner – perhaps – no, not perhaps – quite certainly: It will come.

For its brevity, this book is packed with ideas and story. It's such a fine example of an author making every word count.

Making things count is also on the mind of George, our MC, who is trying to come to grips with life after the death of his partner, Jim. Right from the start of the book, he is looking for a way to emerge from his loss and live again as a single man. But in a setting where he cannot be openly himself, where he even feels like his best friend does not understand him, it is difficult for him to express himself and to be acknowledged. Instead, he feels invisible.

‘You’re going to walk home like that? Are you crazy? They’d call the cops!’
Kenny shrugs his shoulders good-humouredly.
‘Nobody would have seen us. We’re invisible – didn’t you know?’

Invisibility is a theme in that run through the book from George's bathroom window a few pages from the start to the invisible inner workings of his heart at the end of the book.
It's an invisibility that is heartbreaking: George's expression of shock and grief at learning of Jim's death gets mistaken for ambivalence, and even when he breaks down at his friend Charlotte's it happens under the cloak of darkness. No one sees him. No one sees Jim.

Christopher Isherwood is one of the writers that I would like to read more of. I had mostly thought of him as the creator of Sally Bowles and the Berlin novels that inform so much of our pop culture view of the 1920s, but this 1960s novel of his makes me really want to revisit the Berlin novels from the point of looking at his writing. I really loved how much he could make happen in a such a concise way.

But is all of George altogether present here? 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 thought of, for convenience, as individual entities, so you may think of a rock pool as an entity; though, of course, it is not.
The waters of its consciousness – so to speak – are swarming with hunted anxieties, grim-jawed greeds, dartingly vivid intuitions, old crusty-shelled rock-gripping obstinacies, deep-down sparkling undiscovered secrets, ominous protean organisms motioning mysteriously, perhaps warningly, toward the surface light. How can such a variety of creatures coexist at all? Because they have to. The rocks of the pool hold their world together. And, throughout the day of the ebb tide, they know no other.
October 5, 2018
Ho questa convinzione errata che un libro breve non possa equivalere ad un libro con molte pagine... questo particolare libro ha smentito questa convinzione.. che importanza hanno molte pagine se non emozionano, coinvolgono, fanno pensare? Cose che questo romanzo così intenso, ben scritto e profondo offrono. Ho trovato un capolavoro in poco più di 140 pagine, non ho altro da dire
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