Sunday, January 24, 2010

Review of the Day: A Single Man

George is A Single Man trying to get his life back on track following the death of his lover Jim. Christopher Isherwood’s short novel follows George through one day as he navigates the social, academic, and sexual channels of 1960s Los Angeles.

George is feeling his age. His beloved canyon neighborhood has lost its pre-WWII Bohemian air – families with stay-at-home moms and salesman fathers have displaced the free-thinkers. The students in his English literature classes seem young and silly (although physically attractive). Jim’s former girlfriend is in the hospital, and George’s sodden best friend Charlotte wants to cry on his shoulder – or in his bed – every night.

This book was hailed as a break-out gay novel. But George’s grief and emotional upheaval are universal. The book is warm-hearted, optimistic, and funny. At least, it is optimistic up through the conclusion of the story. The surprise twist at the very end feels tacked-on and unnecessarily morose. And it is only funny if read on paper – the audio version leached the humor out of the words and turned it into a self-conscious melodrama.

This was a Library Thing Early Reviewer book for me, so finishing it means I can scratch it off my ER list and avoid one nagging message from LT.

(If you would like your review listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.)


  1. I like Isherwood and recommend The Berlin Stories - have been thinking about re-reading them, actually. Nice review.

  2. Thanks Caitlin. Berlin Stories is on my TBR shelf now. I enjoyed Single Man a lot (although think I would have preferred the paper version), so am looking forward to the other one. Although I must confess that I have never seen Cabaret.

  3. I added this book to my TBR after seeing the movie. I was well done! I know the book is most likely even better.


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