The Golden Gate: A Novel in Verse

Overview

This novel in verse about a group of California yuppies was one of the most highly praised books of 1986 and a bestseller on both coasts.
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Overview

This novel in verse about a group of California yuppies was one of the most highly praised books of 1986 and a bestseller on both coasts.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"At once a bittersweet love story, a wickedly funny novel of manners and an unsentimental meditation on mortality and the nuclear abyss. Always witty--and still profound--the book paints a truthful picture of our dreadful, comic times."
--Vanity Fair

"A splendid achievement, equally convincing in its exhilaration and its sadness."
--The New York Times

"The great California novel has been written in verse (and why not?): The Golden Gate gives great joy."
--Gore Vidal

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
While the idea of a novel in verse may be initially off-putting, readers of this tour de force are in for a treat. Using the sonnet form throughout, and varying his language from lyrical elegance to timely vernacular, Seth's tale of four California Yuppies is as fully dimensional as a good novel, and twice as diverting. In this witty, compressed style, he gives us fully delineated characters: John, a Silicon Valley executive seeking solace in a meaningful amatory relationship; his friend and ex-lover Janet, an artist and musician in a raucous rock band; Liz, a vivacious Stanford law grad whose parents produce superior California wine; her brother Ed, floundering between sin and religion; and John's pal Phil, abandoned by his wife and left with his son, his moral vision and his scientific career at Lungless Labs, a scene of antinuclear protests and rallies. It is an engaging story of the pangs and passions of love, interlaced with serious ruminations on homosexuality and religion and on the future of the earth in the atomic age; and some comic sallies on feline behavior, bumper stickers, responses to ``personals'' ads, and other facets of the contemporary scene as refracted through the California lifestyle. The bard does not hesitate to interrupt his story from time to time, to explain a change in the course of events or to comment upon the structure of his narration, as he defends himself against critics who would accuse him of folly in writing an entire novel in the sonnet form. Inspired by ``the marvelous swift meter of Pushkin's Eugene Onegin,'' Seth (From Heaven's Lake performs imaginative acrobatic jests, quips and puns, delivering his social commentary with spirit and verve. In spite of some passages where he veers toward the maudlin and bathetic,Seth's experiment is a resounding success. 25,000 first printing; author tour. (April 14)
Library Journal
This curious work narrates a tale of San Francisco yuppiedom in the iambic tetrameter, 14-line stanzas of Pushkin's classic ``novel in verse,'' Eugene Onegin. Seth's plot uses Pushkinesque ironic reversals of fate: WASP John misses out on love because his emotions are straitened by weapons work; Jewish Phil drops out of Silicon Valley and finds love, but his male partner, tormented by Catholic guilt, leaves him; Phil and his ex-lover's sister (John's aliented woman friend) marry. There are powerful passages (a priest's anti-nuclear speech; Phil's debate with his lover), well sketched landscapes, and beguiling asides. Often, however, the thud of clumsy stress jars the reader, and overall the work is a wordy, pedestrian imitation of Onegin 's perfect fusion of form and plot. Bay dwellers will enjoy Seth's portrait of their milieu, Pushkinists may be amused, and poets should respect Seth's ambition. Mary F. Zirin, Altadena, Cal.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679734574
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/28/1991
  • Series: Vintage International Series
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 291,982
  • Product dimensions: 5.13 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Vikram Seth
Vikram Seth
Vikram Seth's prose fiction debut, A Suitable Boy, sold over one million copies worldwide despite the fact that at 1,349 pages long, it holds the distinction of being the longest single volume ever published in the English language.

Biography

Vikram Seth was born in India and educated there and in England, California, and China. He has written acclaimed books in several genres: verse novel, The Golden Gate; travel book, From Heaven Lake; animal fables, Beastly Tales; epic novel, A Suitable Boy. His most recent novel, An Equal Music, was published in 1999.

Author biography courtesy of HarperCollins.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Seth:

"I used to like swimming in the Serpentine, even in the snow, but lately I've chickened out."

"I enjoy Chinese calligraphy, which I have been studying for years."

"On the whole, I'm quite lazy, and like watching Columbo or reading detective stories."

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    1. Hometown:
      Delhi, India; and Salisbury, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 20, 1952
    2. Place of Birth:
      Calcutta, West Bengal, India
    1. Education:
      B.A., Oxford University, 1975; M.A., Stanford University, MA 1978; Nanjing University Diploma, 1982

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2007

    A reviewer

    What can I say - it's Seth in all his glory. Fascinating prose, beautiful, poetic and modern. Outstanding. The book leaves you with no words.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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