Alexander Ellis's Reviews > A Single Man

A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood
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's review
Apr 09, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: classic-lit
Read on April 09, 2012

A stream-of-consciousness day-in-the-life of a middle aged English professor living in 20th century Los Angeles.

Isherwood manages to convey with acute hazy detail the thought process of a literature scholar - or possibly the entire human race, I really shouldn't act as if we are a different species - but most importantly the idea of being utterly at odds with oneself. No clear argument is presented, but rather we are allowed access into a fumble-through of a man's daily life: a process which brings occasional epiphanies and multiple repetitions.

As well as focussing clearly on the human condition, Isherwood manages to make astute - if consistently contradictory - points about the state of American culture in the 20th century. He talks of a dysfunctional, yet idealised (not-too-distant) past where Los Angeles became a hot-bed for those who wished to throw aside social contraints and lead quite bizzare, introverted lives. But also of how this has been taken over by 'the majority'. Isherwood manages to avoid demonising this 'majority', and this lends him a very balanced and knowledgeable authority.

'The best prose writer in English' - Gore Vidal

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04/09/2012 page 20

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