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am 1. Juni 2000
Englis book stores have those small alcoves that read "Gay and lesbian fiction", which I've always found very funny, say how do you classify In search of lost time: "Gay and straight fiction by gay author"?
But I'm digressing... I found Holinghurst's novel on one such shelf and I devoured it, because I liked everything in it: the language, the settings and the characters. I was especially moved by the elderly Lord N. because his story belongs to a time that is lost: Edwardian homosexuality. I am not gay but I am truly fascinated by this era of (relative) sexual freedom that was born in Cambridge and Oxford at the turn of the century, in the shadow of Oscar Wilde's downfal. Nearly all of the Bloomsbury group were gay at one time or another!
I cannot say I could relate as easily to contemporary, be it early 80s, gay mores but that hardly matters. On top of it, there are very erotic descriptions of the "love that dared not speak its name" (as Proust wd have said) which I found extremely enjoyable.
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am 21. Februar 2000
A young English gay man from privileged class meets octogenarian privileged English gay man in a cruisy public restroom and later agrees to read older man's diaries and consider writing his biography. The reader sees similarities and differences between the lives of sexually prolific(?) homosexuals whose sexually active years occurred before and after gay sex became legal in England. Lots of titillating descriptions of men's bodies and sassy turns of phrase. The structure of the novel is inspired. Treat yourself!
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am 10. Juni 1999
Beckwith is a self-serving protagonist. The man is self-absorbed and has no pathos ...until the unforgiving conclusion. Beckwith is an inspired creature I must admit. We find a man who has all the things he thought he wanted. Does that remind you of someone you know? Beckwith's reminiscences and research of Lord Nantwitch reveal a trove of desire still left unclaimed and unrealized. The comparison and contrast of Beckwith and Nantwitch unmistakably defines Beckwith's situation. He has filled his life with all of the modern creature comforts and has somehow loved himself so much that he now has no one to love him back. The man is utterly alone in his crowded world with no one to understand him. Hollinghurst has made a statement about the value of such living and it is familiar and sad to many of us.
The novel is full of dark and isolated sex and conflict. There is little drama but a lot of thinking going on, until the end. I was disturbed by this novel; it evoked feelings of inadequacy and discontent that I had long shrouded with meaningless little trophies and monuments I had erected to myself.
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am 20. Januar 1998
The 'gayness' of this book, whilst integral to the work (and AH's other novel, the Folding Star), should not mislead readers into thinking this is 'gay' fiction (what a horrible generalisation that is, like lumping Jane Austen and Henry Miller under 'straight fiction'!). On the contrary, the fact that the author makes us party to Will's world, his mental and sexual life, whether we're gay or not is testament to the quality of the writing.
Book reviewers have a nasty hyperbolic habit. That book they said you should fight to get a copy of all too often turns out be a turkey that --as Dorothy Parker said-- 'should not be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force'. But trust me on this one; it's one of the finest novels I've ever read. Buy it.
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am 7. Februar 2000
It's really a chore to easily categorize this book and the only thing for sure is that its protagonist is a character one would not likely forget easily. There's all the stuff of a easy read- relatively simple language, established plot devices, etc- but the tone itself is high literary and the ending is very unconventional. Most striking about this novel is that you cannot really comprehend how skilled an observer of manners and people the novelist is until you encounter someone in real-life that very much resembles Beckwith. You quickly realize that Hollinghurst has not gone the easy route and created an exxagerated character but has rather beautifully and faithfully rendered into fiction a most remarkable but also distressing social type.
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am 8. März 1999
I recently re-read this book. It is a unique amalgam of very serious, high tone fiction and highly graphic, unadulterated scenes involving the kind of sexuality that would not make it into books that school systems adopt for even advanced high school courses. The narrator is rather selfish, aristocratic, but also appealing, in that, he makes no excuses for his human failings. At times, the depiction of gay haunts and habits is highly satirical, for example, the repeated references to "Trouble for Men," a cologne which wafts through the changing room of the swimming pool club that the narrator frequents [perhaps a dig at the extreme popularity which the Calvin Klein fragrance "Obsession" once had.] There is a two-tier structure to the work that is a little bit hard to deal with: the modern protagonist is contrasted with a man from an older era, whose life in earlier decades, when gay men were more in the shadows is meant to provide a counterpoint to the relative freedom which the younger man enjoys. This book is a rich, complex work which repays close reading and rereading.
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am 22. Juli 1996
Women! Want to get those juices of desire flowing whiledipping into literature more inspiring than romance novels? Try thistitillating book for all sexual preferences! I speak for women who have read this wonderfully sensual book about homosexuality in early nineteenth and also more recent England, with a little African history thrown in: a book about a man writing a biography of a mysterious older man he meets in the London public baths. On a par in literary quality with A.S. Byatt's "Possession," and in some ways more perfectly constructed.
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am 25. November 1998
A masterpiece of "gay" literature and a superb book by any standard, this baroque tale of decadence in fin-de-siecle London, is a good introduction to the work of Alan Hollinghurst, THE wordsmith of the late 20th century. Do read this book before reading "The Folding Star", Hollinghurst's masterpiece. While The Swimming Pool Library is very, very good, it is "The Folding Star" that will convince you of Hollinghurst's status among the greats of English literature.
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am 17. Dezember 1999
I'm of two minds about this book. It is unbelievably torrid. However, the plot is transparent,and the characters totally cardboard.It is a very quick and juicy read, but don't look for much more.
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