Elaine's Reviews > Be Near Me

Be Near Me by Andrew O'Hagan
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's review
Oct 30, 2008

it was amazing

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message 1: by Jeff (new)

Jeff I just read this novel. Pretty good, though it reminded me of an even better novel: Jamie O'Neill's At Swim, Two Boys. I'll be curious to hear what you have to say. Maybe I'll put some words together and post a response.


Elaine I put this on my to- read list. Right now I'm in the midst of Shelby Foote's massive Civil War time. By the way, there are some good studies of how Hollywood treats The Civil War. I'll dig up the titles if you're interested.


Elaine Knowing a gay Dominicann priest very well,I found this books amazingly true to the dilemma of an intelligent, open-minded priest and their crises of faith, loneliness for love, tactile and otherwise, even for children. To think that a 40 year old man, whom I suspect might be gay, not that that matters to me a jot, to think he could so imagine the mind of a man who went through the turnmoil of the 60's, whoe love wa actually in the year of the author's birth, but who, nevertheless, depicted that time so accurately, was amazing to me. Of course, in 1968 I was one of those protesting radicals. Most of the writing is very well done, occasionally pedestrian. Mrs. Poole is an improbable, but real housekeeper. Thanks for turning me on to it.

message 4: by Jeff (new)

Jeff I'm not sure I am as enamored with it as you are, but it was an enjoyable and often moving read. My criticisms mostly center around the character of Mark. I didn't believe in him for a moment. All that dewy, suggestive ambivalence didn't feel right given his status (and, to be honest, he was more plot device than character). As an object of desire he was just too good to be true (a true "lad" and a boy who just wanted to flirt with a 53 year old priest). I don't know . . . maybe there was some father figure issues at work, but the character felt woefully under-developed. Maybe if David had been younger this relationship would have felt more believable. Lisa did work for me (and her anger at the end seemed justified). I often find in these novels (or films) where there is a intergenerational "romance" a brewing that the younger figure is often a bit too compliant . . . a bit too inviting. It seems to let the older character off the hook (of course, that notion is central to this plot but something was missing for me). What I did like about the novel was Mrs. Poole. What a great character. And I must admit the final section was very compelling as it worked to unravel David's sense of self, his faith, etc. The scenes with Mrs. Poole and then later Mr. Poole were very powerful. Simple but emotionally honest. I also liked the Iraq war stuff, though I didn't know how to connect it to the main plot (though I suspect there was meant to be some kind of narrative parallelism at work).

Elaine The Iraq War stuff seemed contrived to me and didn't belong in a novel, I thought, altho it was interesting. I agree about the Pooles, but David is uncannily like my priest friend and the yearning for both the infinite and Mundane very real for nuns and priests -- and Orthodox Jews. Also, personal experience verifies the attraction that older attractive and intelligent people have for the young. Very intense relationships develop between 50+ and young people with the sexual desire on the part of the older person. Thanks for suggesting O

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