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A Single Man
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Buddy Reads > A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood (Aldrin, Bennard)

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Aldrin (fullybooked) | 223 comments Celebrated as a masterpiece from its first publication and adapted into a 2009 film starring Colin Firth, A Single Man is the story of George Falconer, an English professor in suburban California left heartbroken after the sudden death of his lover, Jim. With devastating clarity and humor, Christopher Isherwood shows George's determination to carry on, evoking the unexpected pleasures of life, as well as the soul's ability to triumph over loss and alienation.

Since we're going to read the same edition, I took the liberty of breaking the novel into three manageable chunks each ending with a section break:

Day One: pp. 1-45
Day Two: pp. 45-103
Day Three: pp. 103-152

As George would put it in a whisper, "Just get through the goddamn day." :)

Bennard | 730 comments Day One: Pp. 1-45

I found the first parts to be hauntingly beautiful. There is something in the way that Isherwood narrates that makes George's mundane situation to be tragically profound.

The opening paragraph is especially beautiful. The way that Isherwood dissected George's waking moment is just... awesome.:D

However, despite the book being beautiful, I still feel sad for George. Maybe it's aggravated by the film, but I can't imagine how it feels to lose your partner. And the way that he shuns people; how he shuts himself off; and then wish for bad things to happen to people that he does not like. You can just feel the gravity of his sadness.

This book is really interesting. It's giving me details that was not present in the film so it looks like I do not need to worry about reading this as a repetitive exercise.:D

message 3: by Aldrin (last edited Oct 18, 2012 08:14AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Aldrin (fullybooked) | 223 comments Day One: pp. 1-45

Isherwood dedicated this book to a fellow gay writer, the late Gore Vidal, who, in turn, provided the blurb for this particular edition. As it happens, just this morning I rewatched the season/series finale of Jack and Bobby, which guest starred Vidal. Hehe.

I agree with practically everything you said. The writing is just immaculate. There's nary an extraneous word or punctuation in place. And those first few paragraphs are especially, truly awesome. This is actually my second time reading those parts, as I originally intended to read this sometime last year, but they remain every bit as amazing as they were the first time.

"There is hardly room enough here to feel lonely," says the narrator about George's home, formerly shared with his now deceased lover, Jim. Yet it's clear that George is nothing but lonely. And I feel that the book is nothing if not a chronicle of George's loneliness, post-Jim.

By the way, please humor me as I congratulate myself in my suggestion to end day one at page 45, which, if I do say so myself, ends in a sort of cliffhanger. :p

message 4: by Louize (new)

Louize (thepagewalker) | 1830 comments Kayo na!
As in...

Aldrin (fullybooked) | 223 comments Louize: Join ka na rin! Three-day affair lang naman 'to. Haha.

Bennard | 730 comments @Louize: Tara, sama ka sa amin.:D

@Aldrin: Yes, you're decision to end it at that part is good timing.:D It's like an end of a TV episode.:D

Aldrin (fullybooked) | 223 comments Bennard: Parang Mad Men lang. :p

message 8: by Louize (new)

Louize (thepagewalker) | 1830 comments Eeee, No, hwag muna. Next buddy reading na lang ako. :)

Bennard | 730 comments @Aldrin: Or The Sopranos.:D

Aldrin (fullybooked) | 223 comments Did you know that Mad Men's Jon Hamm had a voice cameo in the film as Jim's cousin, who told George about the accident? :p

Bennard | 730 comments Oh really? I did not notice that!:D

message 12: by Aldrin (last edited Oct 19, 2012 05:29AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Aldrin (fullybooked) | 223 comments Day Two: pp. 45-103

And so the sort of cliffhanger has been resolved into George's lecture on Aldous Huxley's After Many a Summer Dies the Swan, whose title originates from Tennyson's Tithonus. I rather liked George's recounting of the Tithonus myth. I'd have liked him as one of my professors. Haha.

The lecture goes on and on and as it does we get a taste of the dynamics within STSC. And then we are treated to a nice exchange between George and Kenny Porter. #DyanNagsisimulaYan

We also witness George interact with a couple of other personalities and, after he goes off duty, with Charley. I have to say the section break here makes for another nice little cliffhanger. But I've read more than enough of the novel to know that this is owing to Isherwood's consistently engaging writing.

These fifty or so pages, in particular, are filled with clusters of great writing. There's that bit about the American motel-room as symbol, that bit in the supermarket, and that bit about plain happiness. Simply wonderful prose. Looking forward to and at the same time saddened by the proximity of the concluding parts.

Bennard | 730 comments Day Two: pp. 45-103

George seems to be an amazing professor. Funny yet profound in a way. Even though, like some of his students, I have not read After Many A Summer his dissection of it makes me want to pick it up and read it soon.

One of the many awesome things about this book is that conversations are so profound. George's different conversations with Kenny; with Cynthia; with Doris; and with Charley is engaging and often ends in a meaningful way in which the reader can take something from the conversation. Even his seemingly irrelevant interactions with the people at the gym ends in a profound note.

But what captured me the most in this chapter is the short supermarket scene in which he dissects the supermarket itself as a symbol for what he lost. You can really feel his sadness without it being melodramatic.

It seems that Isherwood does not waste a single word. And I agree that the pages are filled with great writing. I also look forward to the end of the book but I am also saddened. I am now compelled to read Isherwood's other works.

Bennard | 730 comments Last Day: pp. 103-152

I just finished this book yesterday after I got home here in Bicol.

I found it to be a very good book that is driven by the narrator's monologue and the conversations by the characters and yet it is not boring. It gave me insights on life in suburban America. I don't really know how to describe it well but it is just a profound experience reading this.:)

By the way, I gave Angus the book and the magazine that you borrowed.:)

Aldrin (fullybooked) | 223 comments Last Day: pp. 103-152

I finished this last Friday night, but failed to post an update promptly. Hehe.

And I agree with you; it's just as profound for me. I liked the tragedy and comedy of it all. Now I want to rewatch the movie.

Yay for the five stars!

And yay for Wit and The New Yorker! :D

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