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A Perfect Night to Go to China Hardcover – Feb 26 2005

5 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Allen Publishers; 1st Edition edition (Feb. 26 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0887621678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887621673
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.9 x 20.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #343,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


Gilmour's prose has flashes of bright metaphor, and his dialogue is alert and alive. (The New York Times)

David Gilmour has created a short, powerful book that is profoundly emotive. (Calgary Herald)

...lush, careening, exhilarating... Gilmour's playful, constantly resounding structure is thematically masterful... This seems to be one of the most refreshing, moving, and supple works of fiction written since the 21st century began... (Books in Canada)

...compulsively readable.... It takes a sharp focus to give us this much in such a brief book. A lesser writer would have given us a leaden brick.... The amazing thing is that it is both a sleek, fast read and a compulsively devastating personal tragedy. When the story is this affecting, the result is a luminous reading experience, the kind we all crave - the kind we sometimes find, if we're lucky, in our favourite authors. I don't think it's going too far to mention such names as Camus, Graham Greene, Elmore Leonard and even Calvino...they all have style, intelligence and strength. Gilmour is one of the best writers we have. His new novel is exactly the kind of thing I'd love to see more of in Canadian writing. It's elegantly written without wasting time on irrelevant detail. It is firmly plotted. It is paced for speed. Something actually happens. I'm saving this book to share with my son. You might want to remember this one come Father's Day. (Toronto Star)

...A Perfect Night is unlike anything Gilmour has written before, and all the better for it. (Maclean's)

Gilmour's prose style is spare and darkly funny, jewelled with clever metaphors and precise details. It's enjoyably reminiscent of Raymond Chandler...A Perfect Night to Go to China is a compelling example of smart writing about trauma, and an uncomfortably pleasurable read. (Quill & Quire)

Gilmour is an adept writer, quite good at turns of phrase. (Edmonton Journal)

... a profound meditation on loss, a journey into loneliness and despair and finally release. (The Globe and Mail)

There is an icy dexterity in [David Gilmour's] writing, which pins his subject securely to his pain... A Perfect Night to Go to China is a book about loss, grief and the slim possibility of redemption. (The London Free Press)

Gilmour's sentences are direct and clear; there is nowhere for the reader to hide from the pain of a man who has lost his son, due, in large part, to his own negligence... Gilmour has taken an impressive route. (The National Post)

...[David Gilmour] carries his soul on his sleeve when it comes to his latest, remarkable novel. (Ottawa Citizen)

... a quite remarkable tale of love, obsession, denial and an apparent descent into madness. (Saskatoon Star-Phoenix)

...powerful... profoundly emotive. (Calgary Herald)

This is one of those nightmare novels propelled by human tragedy...Tense, desperate, and haunted pages nearly turn on their own... (Owen Sound Sun Times)

...powerful, irresistible reading. It's a muscular, beguiling work of fiction. (Vue Weekly)

Gilmour does an impressive job at creating a three-dimensional character in Roman. He would be so easy to despise for his weakness but Gilmour takes us right inside his soul and lets us see both good and bad. The ache in his heart sears the page with his torment. (North Shore News)

Any respectable bookshelf has a few titles that act as support beams for the rest. Subtraction of those dozen most elemental titles means the bookshelf ceases to reflect its owner. The removal of even one or two authors' complete works and the collection loses its cohesion, the centre no longer holds. For me Toronto's David Gilmour is one of those writers. (XEN Magazine)

...can be read in an evening, but it explores one man's troubled psyche more deeply and intensely than other much longer novels... it packs a punch. (The Fiddlehead)

From the Inside Flap

Praise for David Gilmour's novels:

"Back on Tuesday is an up-to-the-minute psychological novel. It projects a special type of modern madness that I equate with the end of the human line." – William Burroughs

"How Boys See Girls is everywhere about the pathos of sexualized seeing, and it has the fascinating effect of a lurid confession, which is to say that it seems true as well as self-punishing, insanely intense, funny and very serious." – New York Times

"With Sparrow Nights, David Gilmour joins the list of inspired modern monologists that begins with Dostoevsky and includes Sartre, Camus, Beckett,Thomas Bernhard and Celine... Gilmour is a brilliant stylist capable of a range of extraordinary effects." – Boston Review

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By fiona on April 27 2005
Format: Hardcover
A Perfect Night to go to China was an interesting book that compelled me - because, as soon as I got into the first couple of pages, I thought, "Whoa." And curiosity sunk in.
Roman, the protagonist, makes the biggest mistake of his life one night. He leaves his little boy alone for fifteen minutes to stroll into a bar.
When he gets back, his son Simon is gone.
At this point, the reader can sense Roman's mental and physical descent. He becomes obsessed with finding his son, believing that his son is communicating with him. Whenever he sleeps, he slips into a world, seemingly of the dead. He sees his mother there and, even, Simon. At these times he visits Simon, holds him close, tells him he misses him.
Meanwhile, his wife doesn't want to see him, he gets fired from his job. His behaviour is strange and at times he does not seem all there.
I'll have to admit it was heart-breaking to read this book. You really get a sense of what it's like, losing a child. How it becomes the centre of your world. Everything seems trivial to that one big gap in your life. And what shocks Roman is that, at times, he momentarily forgets about Simon. For example, when he sees a menacing dog. He is surprised, shocked, maybe even a little disappointed in himself, that he could, even for a moment, forget about his son.
A Perfect Night to go to China was a clear and easy read. It isn't even 200 pages, and I found that I breezed through it. Gilmour's writing is accessible. I love the way he uses similes - you can always picture his images and he doesn't use obscure words like some authors do. His dialogue is also very striking.
The title still strikes me as a bit of a mystery - I can see why he named his title that, but I am just wondering, Why China?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Teddy on June 8 2008
Format: Hardcover
The book opens with Roman tucking his 6-year-old son in for the night. He then decides to leave the house, with his son in it, to go to a bar down the street for a quick drink. He's gone about 15 minutes. When he returns, his son is missing.

Throughout the book we follow Roman on a remorseful journey. A journey of regret, sorrow, relationship problems, searching, and all those things that normally go with loss.

I really wanted to like this book and I did, I just didn't love it. David Gilmour really has a way with words, and this really shines through. His mature prose was sometimes poetic, sparkled with some dark humour.

The major problem I had with this book was that every time Roman would dream, they would be in sequence. It's like he planned it that way and he could do this at will. We don't dream that way. I sometimes wish we did, because I have had dreams that I wish would continue the next time that I fell asleep. LOL!

I think with Gilmour's talent, he could have done much more with this book. That said, this is the first David Gilmour book I have read, but I will definitely try another.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Catherine Cerveny on Nov. 15 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is an interesting "stream of consciousness" novel, told from the point of view of a father who's son has disappeared. The language is eloquent and there are some interesting observations made by a man who seems to have fallen out of sync with the rest of the world. The book ponders the question of now that he's lost his son, does the rest of the world matter anymore? All the things he once thought were important are meaningless now. However, in terms of actual story, plotting, interesting developments, resolution to the conflict, this novel is terrible and sadly lacking. The characters and settings aren't really developed. There's very little back-story or history to anyone. It's just random, depressing thoughts spinning around in the protagonist's head as he spirals down into depression and, I think, eventual insanity. This is not a thriller, suspense, or mystery story---which is what I expected I'd be reading when I picked up this book. If you want to read a novel about a father losing his grip on reality after the disappearance of a child, this book is for you. Otherwise, I'd skip it.
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By OJ on Oct. 27 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Weirdly refreshing!! The quality of the book itself was top notch.
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5 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Robinson on June 16 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a self-indulgant, obsessive novel that is more concerned
with the mind of the narrator, rather than truely expressing
the grief of a lost child. I couldn't get past the obsessive
mind games the narrator plays, and I had little sympathy for
his plight. It isn't that I place blame on the loss of his child,
it is that he is so in tune with his misery that he inflicts
on everyone around himself (and sees himself as so much of the
victim) that it was difficult to sympathize with his plight.
And why doesn't his wife have a first name? There is literary
game playing that goes on here, more narrative tricks with mood
and atmosphere then a real attempt to reach the reader and engage
him somewhere. The ending is pointless. I most unimpressed with
this novel.
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