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Love And Death On Long Island [Paperback]

Gilbert Adair
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 28 1998
A wealthy and renowned author in his middle fifties becomes obsessed with a young American star. One afternoon, a series of seemingly unrelated and insignificant irritants contrives to destroy his cool, Olympian existence and he is forced to confront a long dormant truth about his nature.

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Giles De'Ath is a widowed British novelist so obstinately old-fashioned that he speaks of the "current fad for videotape recorders." Caught in the rain one afternoon, he ducks into a cinema and inadvertently finds himself watching something called Hotpants College II, where he first gazes upon an American heartthrob named Ronnie Bostock. Initially denying even the possibility that he might be experiencing a homosexual crush, De'Ath soon finds himself giving in to this "strange and bothersome distraction" by scouring teenybopper magazines for articles like "20 Facts Ya Didn't Know About [Ronnie]!!" "As someone who did not know any facts at all about him as yet," he notes, "I confess I felt a certain onset of excitement."

Gilbert Adair's narrative--it might be more accurate to call it a novella instead of a novel--is a precise depiction of romantic obsession and frustration. Narrated by De'Ath, it is thus somewhat more internally driven than the excellent 1998 film adaptation starring John Hurt and Jason Priestley. Love and Death on Long Island can be easily polished off with a few hours' reading, but its nuanced characterization of a man who trades restraint for recklessness is well worth savoring. --Ron Hogan --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

The basis for the hit independent film starring Jason Priestly and John Hurt, Love and Death on Long Island is a brilliant, witty, and heartrending update of Death in Venice. When he wanders into the wrong theater and finds himself watching the wretched teen-pic Hotpants College II, cerebral British author Giles De'Ath becomes romantically obsessed with dreamboat Ronnie Bostock. Giles's infatuation drives him to the unthinkable: he reads American fan magazines and watches movies with titles like Tex Mex and Skid Marks. And finally, he travels to Long Island, intent on meeting Ronnie in the flesh.

"A literary gem, a tour de force . . . Most of us had probably forgotten English could be written so well."-Literary Review (UK)

"Utterly original, baroquely comic . . . [Love and Death on Long Island ] is about the generally closeted nature of love, in general, and about how all of us are capable of conjuring up love objects in the least likely of places."-Daphne Merkin, The New Yorker (on the film)

"A very funny portrait of an extraordinarily unworldly academic's introduction to the dizzyingly incomprehensible realm of popular culture."-Nick Hornby

"Brief, pure, intense. With perfect poise and poignance, Adair puts across the impossibility of fulfillment, the heat and humiliation of passion. The writing is masterly, the conjuring of contrasting worlds a triumph."-Financial Times (UK)

Gilbert Adair is well-known in the United Kingdom as an author and critic. He has written essay collections and a prize-winning novel, The Holy Innocents. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Never mind the width, feel the quality June 29 2000
What a small gem! Only 137 pages, but a rich and full journey into the mind of a closeted academic as he works his way through an infatuation with vacuous teen idol Ronny Bostock. Gilbert De'Ath's encounters with the modern world in the form of multiplex cinemas, teenage fanzines, video recorders, pulp cinema and Pakistani newsagents is both hilarious and touching. A vast improvement on the somewhat lacklustre screen treatment.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Why not read the original instead? Nov. 11 2001
By Allison
Mr. Adair may be a competent writer, but a reading of _Death in Venice_, by Thomas Mann, will reveal that he owes a great deal to Herr Mann. It may be to the contemporary readers' shame that we are more familiar with pop fiction than great art, but is to Mr. Adair's that he -- aside from not crediting Mann -- does not credit the reader with the education or the wit to tell a pale imitation from the real thing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant July 23 2000
A brilliantly witty and beautifully written short novel. Comparable to the prose stylings of a personal favorite, Graham Greene, his prose is eloquent and romantic. Adair proves himself as a wordsmith of the highest order, possessing an encyclopedic knowledge of the english language. I only wonder why a writer of his caliber lacks the publicity and popularity of his more noted literary confreres.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fine novel by an equally fine critic Jan. 24 2000
Superb novel, parodying everything from Mann to teen B-movies, but with a tender affection for its main character, sardonic and infatuated novelist Giles De'Ath. Quite different from the (extremely good) movie, with much more time spent on Giles' life in England and less on his adventures in the US. Marvellous over-elaborated style, too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very witty account of adult infatuation Oct. 28 1999
By A Customer
I read the book after I saw the movie (which I loved). The book is excellent - the author can make the mundane so descriptive. I just wish the novel was 50 or so pages longer.
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