A Single Manby Christopher Isherwood
When A Single Man was originally published, it shocked many by its frank, sympathetic, and moving portrayal of a gay man in midlife. George, the protagonist, is adjusting to life on his own after the sudden death of his partner, and determines to persist in the routines of his daily life; the course of A Single Man spans twenty-four hours in an ordinary day. An Englishman and a professor living in suburban Southern California, he is an outsider in every way, and his internal reflections and interactions with others reveal a man who loves being alive despite everyday injustices and loneliness.
Wry, suddenly manic, constantly funny, surprisingly sad, this novel catches the texture of life itself.
“Simon Prebble’s voice is a perfect conduit for Isherwood’s lyricism, and he assumes the role of George so naturally and with such raw feeling that listeners will feel as if they are hearing the words straight from the protagonist.”
- HarperCollins Publishers
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Meet the Author
SIMON PREBBLE, a British-born performer of considerable talent and experience, has built a successful career that spans the Atlantic. As a stage and television actor he has played in everything from soaps to Shakespeare, but it is as a veteran narrator of some 275 audio book titles that he has made his mark since coming to the U.S. in 1990. Audiofile magazine has named him a “Golden Voice” and in 2004 he was named “Narrator of the Year” by Publishers Weekly. He lives with his wife in New York.
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If you have not read Christopher Isherwood you have missed the work of a brilliant author. This particular book was praised by the NY Times as "...a sad, sly report on the predicament of the human animal." Isherwood's prose is spare, mesmerizing; his words well chosen, succinct, meaningful. Most importantly, his writings are true. When first published about a half century ago A SINGLE MAN was considered shocking as it portrayed for the first time the life of a gay man, George, who was recently bereaved and trying to adjust to life without his partner. George is a college professor, careful, thoughtful. The all too brief story covers just 24 hours from the moment he awakens in the morning and remembers that he has lost his partner to his studied, sometimes painful navigation of the day. We are privy not only to his actions but to his thoughts, thus we share his predicament, a very human one. George is an Englishman living in southern California, a place a bit inhospitable to a middle-aged scholar yet he perseveres by observing routine. Haven't many of us found ourselves left with that as our one means of coping? For this reader/listener that is the beauty of Isherwood as A SINGLE MAN is not solely a drama of gay life but of all humanity. Reader Simon Prebble gives voice to George with understanding, and skillful narration. British born his voice is perfectly suited for this role. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the hugely successful movie version of A SINGLE MAN by Tom Ford - don't miss this. And hearty recommendations also for Isherwood's Christopher and His Kind and Prater Violet also found on audio from HighBridge. - Gail Cooke
A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood This is a tale of grieving and redemption. This is a day in the life of George, a British English schoolteacher at San Tomas Sate College in Southern California, who is mourning the loss of his life partner, Jim. We see him get out of bed, perform his daily routine, and try to cope with his terrible loss. Jim died at a car accident in Mexico when he was traveling with his mistress, Doris. Doris survived the accident but she's in a vegetative state. George visits her once a week - mostly because is the only thing left that is purely Jim. Charlotte is George's best friend. Also a British, Charlotte is mourning her failed marriage with Buddy and an empty nest - as her son, Fred has finally left her to live with his girlfriend. But redemption comes to George, Kenny Potter, one of his students, follows George to his favorite bar - a dive where he and Jim met. Kenny flirts with George and because they are so drunk, they end up together. Although George knows that this will probably be a one time thing, the redemption comes with the knowledge that George is helping Kenny deal with his homosexuality. Beautifully told from an universal point of view, the story deals with the loss of a loved one, even one who clearly broke the trust between a couple. George clearly blames Doris for Jim's death, yet one wonders if he had lost Jim irregardless. Isherwood is clearly aware that gays are being persecuted and presents a clear perspective of the gay man in the 1960's: "A minority has its own kind of aggression. It absolutely dares the majority to attack it. It hates the majority - not without a cause, I grant you. It even hates the other minorities, because all minorities are in competition: each one proclaims that its sufferings are the worst and its wrongs are the blackest. And the more they all hate, and the more they're all persecuted, the nastier they become! Do you think it makes people nasty to be loved? You know it doesn't! Then why should it make them nice to be loathed? While you're being persecuted, you hate what's happening to you, you hate the people who are making it happen; you're in a world of hate. Why, you wouldn't recognize love if you met it! You'd suspect love! You'd think there was something behind it - some motive - some trick...." I wonder if the book would had a different ending, now that gays are more accepted by society....