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I Look Divine

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  164 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Nicholas is beautiful wealthy and hopelessly vain. With his older brother in tow he jets from one glamorous scene to another: Rome Madrid Mexico. Wherever he goes he seeks the admiration of other men until one day - his beauty faded - he winds up dead the victim of unknown circumstances. His brother is left to pick up the pieces and figure out how Nicholas came to his unti ...more
Kindle Edition, 112 pages
Published November 20th 2013 by Bruno Gmunder (first published 1987)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  164 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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Jan 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
Sometimes, when I am in a rut for reading material, I try to find a slim novel that helps purge my brain. That’s not to say that I look for fluff; this exercise merely allows me to read a novel quickly, not spend too much time with the story or the characters. Admittedly, most of these types of novels have been of the science fiction variety. Few have been “literary.”

So, the other night I was in one of these funks. I knew I was about to embark upon a reading experience with John Updike so my mi
Sep 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bitchy, funny, and coldly precise--- the narrator looks back over the life of his dead (murdered) younger brother, who built his life around being feted for his beauty. Call it a kind of Dorian Gray adjunct, and a cautionary tale about the cruelty of beauty and entitlement. And it does have deliciously wicked lines. When the narrator berates his teenaged brother for accepting gifts from older men,his brother dismisses the criticism by saying, "My dear, there is a difference between trade and tri ...more
Bud Smith
Jan 12, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was really good. I was sucked in and even though there’s no real plot to it I was pulled along as if it was structured like one of the most exciting thrillers or something. No action whatsoever, except going to a few bars and a pyramid. It’s an emotional thriller. The characters are all unlikeable and I enjoyed that. These two brothers are such compelling characters. I wish there was a few times in the book Nicolas was able to connect with people on a heart to heart level, but oh well, plen ...more
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Christopher Coe's (1987) novel I Look Divine provides fleeting insight into the life of two brothers: Nicholas, a proclaimed narcissist of the highest degree, and the unnamed brother, a whimsical, perhaps audacious and incredulous, onlooker on the sudden life and death of lyrical beauty. A retrospective narrative, the brother reflects upon Nicholas's orientation toward the mirrored-edges that surround the Wildean portrait of his life. The novel ventures no further than Nicholas's apartment, thou ...more
Asha Kodah
I see the Lish thing going on here, which usually lands in my wheelhouse, but this instance, not really my cup of tea. Not an afternoon wasted, but one, unmemorable.
Aug 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At our local library there are "quick choice" shelves, not just once happened for me to find little gems there. This is just one of them, a slim and fast to read novel yet your gears are constantly moving throughout all the 100 and a bit of pages.

We are presented with the "portrait" of Nicholas sketched by his brother. The flow of memories that contour Nicholas for us is rooted in grief and kept going by a picture, a life size picture of Nicholas in a Japanese robe in front of a wall of skulls f
Rich Gamble
It takes a lot of skill to write a book with an unlikeable character that people still want to read. Austen did it with Emma and Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho also comes to mind. Nicholas who won’t be in photos and controls/manipulates all aspects of his image compulsively is not quite in the same league. This combined with a very tired ‘brother with the flashback’ structure make for a trying, if brief read.

This book contains way too much pointless jet setting and foreign culture reference
Karl Marx S.T.
Apr 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I Look Divine is Christopher Coe’s first novel and is written in a terrifying and seductive prose. It is about a man who recalls his adventures together with his brother, Nicholas. Nicholas is a vain, clever, poetic, wealthy and extravagant who poses and flirts in the stylish bars throughout the world. His brother the narrator becomes his witness and victim enchanted and repelled by Nicholas’ antics. There is nothing shocking and terrifying that happen in the novel but the author’s narratives ma ...more
Jan 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-lit, best-of-2013
A short yet near masterful and timeless character study of a beautiful and clever creature--Nicholas--destined and doomed from birth to soar near heaven for as long as good looks and witty banter and divine confidence can carry him. Told from his brother's perspective, the story also captures the intense and unspoken relationship between such a force and those travelling within close orbit. Coe deftly uses an economy of language to vividly paint the pain and pleasure which comes from striding th ...more
lark benobi
It reminded me a little bit of RAVELSTEIN in that a straight man narrates the story of a larger-than-life gay man with whom he is fascinated. Also like Bellow's novel, this book is brief, intense, and beautifully written. Ravelstein was Bellow's last novel, I believe, and I Look Divine was Coe's first...even so, the writing is breathtakingly confident. I really enjoyed reading it. ...more
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For Pride month I decided to read a little, slim, unknown novel (at least I have never heard of it) and I was very impressed. It was called I LOOK DIVINE by Christopher Coe. Written in 1987. It's a first-person narrator telling the story of his younger brother, Nicholas' life, as he's trying to clean up his deceased brother's apartment that's filled with lavish things and glamour photos of himself and mirrors everywhere and booze and gifts from many many men throughout his life. The brother reco ...more
Bill Marshall
Mar 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
 Excellent of its kind, Christopher Coe's I Look Divine is one brother's remembrance of another. Coe, who died of AIDS in 1994, writes at times like Hemingway, I thought, though it's an odd comparison. I doubt the two would've gotten along well. It was the way Coe captured what it's like to be at a cafe in a foreign country at a certain time of your life at a certain period of history that made me think this.
I Look Divine's 109 pages go fast. It took me a few days to read it only because at the
Robert Burke
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lish-edited
This is one of the best books I've ever read. Especially in regards to the Lish edited material. The torquing and swerving in this are exquisite, and in general, this book moved me very deeply. I know the brother, Nicholas, is a bit of self-centered asshole, but I was thoroughly entranced by him and the protagonist from the very first sentence. Both of these characters are rendered so compellingly that I have gone on a Christopher Coe hunt. Besides his other novel, I've had difficulty finding hi ...more
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never realized that this book would be "lost" so soon. Nor did I know that it is supposed to be homoerotic novel while reading. I Look Divine by Christopher Coe is so much more than to be boxed in by categories. A hidden gem of a book that is well worth the trouble of finding a used copy. A great tale of one man's obsession with himself through his loving brother's eyes.

Edit : I think the book has come back into print since my original review. Lucky for everyone.
Gila Gila
Jan 12, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2017
Divine Dashing Nick holds his brother in sway
Brother – Narrator – adoring;
The reader can only get out of the way
As Nich’las fails to tickle us
He’s gorgeous! He’s rich! He’s so boring.
Read searching for wit
But alas, lazy lit.

Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pure. Concise. Gay literature that does not translate itself for a heterosexual audience. The depiction of the sibling relationship is moving and charming and the main characters use of language is humorous and endearing.
Nov 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written but a sad story of selfishness
Mike Cull
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If there's a more beautiful, wry, understated book about narcissism and sibling love, I don't know it. ...more
the picture of dorian gay
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021
~2.5 stars.
Meghan C.
Feb 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
More a character-study than a novel, I Look Divine is like taking a whirlwind vacation with that guy you met during a free wine tasting. At first the detail-rich luxuries of the protagonist Nicholas feel exotic and lush and the narrator piles them high like so many Egyptian cotton towels. But after a few days trapped in a hotel with this guy, listening to his stories over and over again, and the magic and the mystery wear thin.

Coe does an excellent job framing and then fleshing out Nicholas as a
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A desultory life...except for mirror images

David Leavitt, a brilliant author himself, wrote the Introduction to this wondrously touching little book by Christopher Coe, and in many ways his introductory remarks are equal to the novel. Leavitt probes the life and influence and style of Coe and manages to relate moments from this brief at times rambling, almost disconnected story bringing clarity to the reader about to embark on the too brief journey of I LOOK DIVINE.

A word about Christopher Coe:
John Treat
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a brief novel. You will pick it up after lunch and be done with it long before dinner. It is the story of a man Nicholas, told by an older brother, whom you will not like but whom you should know of anyway.

Coe is perfect, the novella is perfect. There is hardly anything here "de trop," as Nicholas would say (one year, anyway). He and his brother, free of any need to work apparently, travel from one jaded world place to another-- the usual circuit, i.e., Paris, Rome, Mexico, but everyplac
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this slim volume by chance and picked it up as an afterthought when I spent an afternoon outside of New Haven in a giant book barn with about 2 million books. I’m not quite sure what to make of the story itself but I found it so sad and beautiful. Coe wrote two books before he died in 1994 at age 41 from AIDS-related complications. As I read this hard cover first edition with a very tight binding, I couldn’t help but think of this clearly unread copy, discovered like a needle in a haysta ...more
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay
What I liked most about this was the way the book reflects the main character's life. We start with an admiring portrait of the beautiful (but dead) Nicholas by his more ordinary brother. It's all lush descriptions, exotic locations and objets d'art. As the novella wears on, Nicholas becomes less and less attractive, not just physically as he ages, but as a character too. It's as if the book is proving him right: his beauty is all that matters about him. Sad, but some guys do act as if this is t ...more
Mike Polizzi
May 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quiet book- clear, concise and subtle. The narrator's voice is so removed that the spareness is less a matter of evocation than of fact. Yet how well he establishes the passage of time and how natural his artifice in establishing the parent's fate- the whole book turns on the narrator's dispassionate remembrances of his dissipating brother, the beauty, money and brains squandered. ...more
Apr 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I Look Divine (1987) by Christopher Coe is about a brother searching and lamenting over his brother Nicholas’ past. The novel (which explores family love and homosexuality) carries itself through its sweet and swift prose, dabbing in small details that flesh out dear Nicholas that leaves me loving him more than hating him. Because, you will hate him.
A perfect soft story of a homosexual man who is confident about his life and the direction. I was struggling to find this book (only libraries), after three years I have finally found it in a small Prague antiquarian.
It is a pleasant reading. Something different than you'd expect.
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Odd little novella about an unbelievably narcissistic man and where that took him, seen through the eyes of his less-favored brother, who seems to accept everything that happens without questioning it. Well-written and strangely believable.
Michael Joseph
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-contemporary
You can find my full review of this classic, I Look Divine at my web site. ...more
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Christopher Coe was born in Pennsylvania in 1953 and raised in Portland, Oregon. As an adult he lived in both New York City and Paris.

As well as a writer, Coe also worked as a photographer and cabaret singer. His first novel, I Look Divine, was published in 1987, his second, Such Times, in 1993.

Coe died of AIDS on 6 September 1994 at his home in Manhattan.

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