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The Optimists
     

The Optimists

5.0 1
by Andrew Miller
 

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Clem Glass was a successful photojournalist, firm in the belief that photographs could capture truth and beauty. Until he went to Africa and witnessed the aftermath of a genocidal massacre.
Clem returns to London with his faith in human nature shattered and his life derailed. Nothing-work, love, sex-can rouse his interest and no other outlook can restore his

Overview


Clem Glass was a successful photojournalist, firm in the belief that photographs could capture truth and beauty. Until he went to Africa and witnessed the aftermath of a genocidal massacre.
Clem returns to London with his faith in human nature shattered and his life derailed. Nothing-work, love, sex-can rouse his interest and no other outlook can restore his faith. The one person Clem is able to connect with is his sister, who has made her own sudden retreat from reality into the shadows of mental illness, and he finds some peace nursing her back to health in rural Somerset. Then news arrives that offers him the chance to confront the source of his nightmares.

In The Optimists, Miller explores the perilously thin line between self-delusion and optimism.

Editorial Reviews

Boston Globe

"Subtle and beautifully written...Miller's prose brings grace and lucidity to what is dark and baffling"
New York Times Book Review

"A work of solemn artistry"
Wall Street Journal

"Once again Miller shows himself to be an acutely sensitive observer of life at a particular moment in history."
From the Publisher

PRAISE FOR THE OPTIMISTS

"Once again Miller shows himself to be an acutely sensitive observer of life at a particular moment in history . . . [His] inventive yet unobtrusive prose conveys a richly complex reality filtered through Clem's stunned consciousness."--The Wall Street Journal

"[A] work of solemn artistry. Miller's style is one of guarded lyricism, in which he allows just enough poetry in the language to get the job done, the mood or moment caught."--The New York Times Book Review

James Parker
The Optimists is a work of solemn artistry. Miller's style is one of guarded lyricism, in which he allows just enough poetry in the language to get the job done, the mood or moment caught. The sharpest of his senses seems to be his ear. A car engine is turned off in a wood: ''Quietness, like the hissing in a shell, seeped through the skin of the car.'' A long-neglected tap is turned on: ''Yards of old piping juddered, there was a burst of musty air, then the sudden slap of water on the worn enamel.''
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
A powerful study of emotional trauma, English writer Miller's third novel (after Ingenious Pain and Oxygen) probes the horrors of genocide as well as what Hannah Arendt called "the banality of evil." Clem Glass is a veteran photojournalist who thought he was inured to man's inhumanity to man until he witnessed the aftermath of a genocidal massacre in Africa. Unable to wipe the images of murdered women and children from his mind, Clem wanders distraught around London. When his older sister, Clare, a professor in Dundee, has a recurrence of the mental breakdown she suffered some years earlier, Andrew is at first unable to deal with any additional emotional problems. Instead, he flees to Canada to consult a colleague, a journalist who also witnessed the massacre and found solace in caring for society's outcasts. Eventually, Clem takes responsibility for his sister and nurses her back to health. When he finally confronts the man responsible for the slaughter in Africa, he realizes it's impossible to exact revenge for an act of such cosmic evil. He himself must hit emotional rock bottom before he achieves a tentative optimism and reaffirms his faith in life. Miller's story is starkly illustrative of the wide range of human behavior in the so-called civilized world. The guardedly positive ending reveals the irony in the book's title; only "a small, stubborn belief" can be wrested from the circumstances of modern life. (Apr. 5) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
"Beautifully written, astutely observed, and as maddeningly inconclusive as life itself."
Library Journal
This new novel from Booker Prize nominee Miller (Oxygen) centers on prominent photojournalist Clem Glass, who has just returned to London from Africa. While there, he captured a scene of unspeakable horror during a genocidal massacre, and his trust in humanity is crushed. Sinking into a deep depression, he finds no joy in life's everyday activities until he reconnects with his mentally unstable sister, Clare. Nursing Clare back to health is just what Clem needs to regain his footing, but it is not long before an unexpected occurrence affords him the opportunity to confront his demon nightmares. Told in simple, concise language, this work is recommended for public libraries with customer interest in international fiction. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/04.]-Christopher J. Korenowsky, Columbus Metropolitan Lib. Syst., OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780156030557
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/10/2006
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
322
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)

Meet the Author


ANDREW MILLER's first novel, Ingenious Pain, won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the International IMPAC Award. He was short-listed for the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Award for his novel Oxygen. He lives in Brighton, England.

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Optimists 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hugged him back "I'm so sorry, I'm grounded I promise I'll be back when I can."