Oxygenby Andrew Miller
It is the summer of 1997. In England, Alec Valentine is returning home to care for his ailing mother, Alice, a task that only reinforces his deep sense of inadequacy. In San Francisco, his older brother Larry prepares to come home as well, knowing it will be hard to conceal that his acting career is sliding toward sleaze and his marriage is faltering. In Paris, on the
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Oxygen based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
This author seems to be under-valued and I don't understand why. His writing is exquisite to be sure, but does not call attention to itself. His characters emerge full-fleshed and his themes are well-woven and involving. There are two storylines in this novel, both concerning responsibility and personal redemption. The family relationships are true to life and deeply moving. I'm going to wait a year and re-read it. Now I'm on to his new book, 'The Optimists,' which has completely pulled me in. I'm taking my time with it--don't want to miss a thing.
This absorbing novel moves seamlessly between the five main characters -- Alice, the weak, vain mother who gains a measure of nobility with her death; Alec, her neurotic, intellectual younger son; Larry, her favored older son, whose potential has been eaten away by his experiences in America's entertainment industry; and Laszlo, the esteemed Hungarian emigree author who secretly feels his missed his one opportunity to make a real difference to the world and to his friends. The writing is first-class, with original thoughts couched in masterful prose.The symbolism is graceful and thought-provoking. The endings of the various stories, like the ending of Laszlo's play, are left up in the air. I was sorry to see the book end.
It was a few months ago when, after reading the critical reviews of Andrew Miller's 'Oxygen', I was looking forward to laying my hand on the book and reading it. Being an avid reader by and large, I am still surprised with myself when I come to think that it took me more than three months to read up its 320 pages. Maybe it's my fault, I don't know . . . Despite the brilliance of style and the magical use of exqusite language by the author, I kept asking myself 'What is it all about?'. So, in case one is in a certain state of mind or interested to find out more about the terminal symptoms of cancer, here is the perfect read (do not take it with you on a summer holiday, though)