“A Single Man” by Christopher Isherwood

Jun 26, 2011 by

This book is something special.  I had waited for so long to read this, that I started to worry that I was putting too much pressure on it to live up to my elevated expectations – that worry was unnecessary.

A Single Man chronicles a day in the life of George – a professor at the local State College, far from his native England, and deeply grieving the recent and sudden loss of his long-time partner Jim.  Doubling the tragedy here, is that it is the early 1960s, when being gay was something to be hidden from, well, everyone except perhaps your closest and dearest friends.  George is so overwhelmingly disconnected from his neighbors, his peers at work, his students….  that he is becoming disconnected from himself.  This particular day finds George attempting to reconnect with his friends and neighbors, and make new connections with his students…..

George’s isolation in his grief, in his life is heartbreaking.  Although I cannot say what it is like to be gay in America now, and certainly not in the 1960s…  I’d have to imagine that this is a fairly accurate portrayal.  I loved watching George evolve….  for such a slim book, this evolution feels slow and dramatic and just lovely to behold.

As I said, this had been on my list to read for awhile now…. and I am so glad I finally got to it.  I am also going to include this in the Book to Movies Challenge, so expect a movie review in a few days or so.  I am really looking forward to how they deal with George’s character.  A lot of what I like in the book was internal to George, and I am curious to see how that is translated to film.

A Single Man                                 
by Christopher Isherwood
Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2001 (orig, pub 1964)
186 pages
Source:  Library

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