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I Look Divine

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  114 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
Like Dorian Gray, the exquisite Nicholas limned in this sleek and troubling novella may become a cult figure.

The self-absorbed, narcissistic young man feels he has been exceptional from the moment of his birth by Caesarian section; he was thus unmarked and more perfect than other babies. "There is no such thing as more perfect," corrects his mother. "Of course there is,"
Paperback, 109 pages
Published July 28th 1998 by Vintage (first published 1987)
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Jan 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Rich Gamble
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Sep 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
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
Oct 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Shawn Granger
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Nov 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Well written but a sad story of selfishness
Meghan C.
Feb 03, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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
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
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
Nathan Truong
Apr 06, 2014 rated it liked it
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.
Mike Polizzi
May 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 12, 2012 added it
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.
Michael Joseph
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gay-contemporary
You can find my full review of this classic, I Look Divine at my web site.
Gary Cheetham
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Nov 09, 2014
Casey Hannan
rated it it was amazing
Mar 30, 2014
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Jun 14, 2013
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Jan 31, 2013
Dan Chard
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Mar 21, 2014
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Sep 04, 2013
rated it it was ok
Oct 01, 2011
Gaby Held
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Gil Yarden
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Apr 30, 2010
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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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“If I see one more Virgin Mary, I'm going to get knocked up” 0 likes
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