Saturday, April 07, 2012

April showers and all that

Happy Easter weekend, everyone! We plan on seeing the first The Hunger Games movie with my parents this afternoon, then having Easter dinner tomorrow with Ekim's parents. Ham is a guilty pleasure of mine. And we won't be having any rain this weekend. The sky is as blue as can be, and it's supposed to get up into the 70s tomorrow. Ah. And now, a book review. I haven't been getting as much read lately.

The Line of Beauty, by Alan Hollinghurst

The double curve was Hogarth's 'line of beauty', the snakelike flicker of an instinct, of two compulsions held in one unfolding movement. He ran his hand down Wani's back. He didn't think Hogarth had illustrated this best example of it, the dip and swell --- he had chosen harps and branches, bones rather than flesh. Really it was time for a new Analysis of Beauty.

Nick Guest is gifted with the ability to see and appreciate beauty. He is also a young gay man who must live a double life.

What really was his understanding with Wani? The pursuit of love seemed to need the cultivation of indifference. The deep connection between them was so secret that at times it was hard to believe it existed. He wondered if anyone knew--had even a flicker of a guess, an intuition blinked away by its own absurdity. How could anyone tell? He felt there must always be hints of a secret affair, some involuntary tenderness or respect, a particular way of not noticing each other...He wondered if it ever would be known, or if they would take the secret to the grave. For a minute he felt unable to move, as if he were hypnotized by Wani's image

This novel is so much more than I'd expected. It depicts London in the 1980s, during the socially conservative Margaret Thatcher years. There's an undercurrent of racism and class snobbery and all that hypocrisy, and of course homophobia and the tragic spread of AIDS.

Nick Guest is aptly named, since he is always the outsider. He is living with his friend (not lover) Toby and his family, in the opulent surroundings and society of the upper class, while he writes his thesis on the style of Henry James. Toby's father Gerald is a member of parliament who is eventually implicated in a couple scandals. It also comes out that Nick, while living under the same roof, has been having a homosexual affair with the son of a famously rich man. Gerald scapegoats Nick, and in the end, the friendships Nick had held onto for years are exposed as meaningless charades, while his closest lovers die. Everything comes to an end, as Nick's young life will, too. It's all so sad, but also so beautifully written. This story will stay with me for quite some time.

I love this review, and this one as well. My own synopsis is not adequate. The Line of Beauty, by Alan Hollinghurst, won The Booker Prize in 2004.

And now I can't remember--was there some other news?



TLP said...

Good review. Loved seeing you and Mike.

actonbell said...

Thanks, Mom:)