Thursday, 8 July 2010

A Single Man

By Christopher Isherwood.

Now I know that you can see the words "Now A Major Motion Picture" atop the book in this photo. So you're probably thinking, oh he's seen the film and now wants to read the book. Well, I am afraid you are mistaken. Not seen the film, although after reading this book I am even more uncertain. I am of course curious to see if they have got the sheer emotion of it all transferred onto the screen. I sincerely hope that they do, because this book is quite simply wonderful.

Long time readers may remember me talking about my love for the likes of Bennett, Fitzgerald and Wodehouse and the sheer joy of their language and the characters they create. Well, Mr Isherwood can happily join their ranks. Some of the language he uses here is simply wonderful, utterly picturesque, maybe a little too so at times but the rest of it it is an utter joy to read.

Now I don't want to go giving the plot away, that's not my job, I am a not a blurb (as an edited line from the Prisoner goes). However sufficied to say it follows a lot of those universal themes that all good successful books do. When reading you really feel to connect with George despite the fact he is what a lot of us aren't. Unless, of course there are a number of you who are English professors living in 1960's America, who are gay, in their sixties and have recently lost a loved one. If you, hello and I hope you are well. Heck, that seems rude, so I hope those of you who don't fit into that very small category are also well.

The book itself clearly has some heavily autobiographical tones. That is very apparent to those who are aware of the basics of Isherwood and his life. However, you can feel really connected with the character. When George feels upset, you feel rather down yourself. The sense of isolation of being a single man who doesn't fit in with the world around him leaps out of the page and you find yourself feeling sorry for George. It also offers some interesting insight into one mans view of a world that was very different from the one I was born into.

As the book progresses and you get to know George more, you really do begin to like him more and more. Because it is all told from his perspective, a true first person, you get to see the world as he sees it. Feel the actions he feels.

The books is also about growing old, something that I really am yet to feel. The book really does take a very bleak approach on it all. An acceptance of death and a feeling that, rather than just a hey it happens. More a, it happens and it can be rather bally horrible. This makes you look at death and the whole aging process in a whole new light.

I'm not sure what else to say but read this and just revel in the sheer wonderfulness of how it is written.

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