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Story Of The Night, The: A Novel [Paperback]

Colm Toibin
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 22 1998

A New York Times Notable Book

The streets are empty at night, and people see nothing because they have trained themselves not to. It is Argentina in a time of the generals. Richard Garay lives alone with his mother, hiding his sexuality from her and from the world. Stifled by a job he despises, he is willing to take chances, both sexual and professional. The Falklands War enables him to disregard the Britishness he has inherited from his mother, and the arrival of two American diplomats offer him new hope and the prospect of making his fortune. Argentina is changing, and as his country slowly makes its peace with the outside world, Richard tentatively begins a love affair--but the Faustian bargain he has made with experience is gradually becoming a nightmare. Richard tells his picaresque story with a mixture of confessional guilt and awestruck wonder. The Story of the Night is a powerful, brave, and moving novel.
Hailed by the Irish Independent as "the best Irish writer of his generation," Colm Tóibín won the American Academy of Art and Letters E. M. Forster Prize in 1995. Toibin is also the author of three nonfiction books, including The Sign of the Cross: Travels in Catholic Europe. He lives in Dublin.
The streets are empty at night, and people see nothing because they have trained themselves not to. It is Argentina in a time of the generals. Richard Garay lives alone with his mother, hiding his sexuality from her and from the world. Stifled by a job he despises, he is willing to take chances, both sexual and professional. The Falklands War enables him to disregard the Britishness he has inherited from his mother, and the arrival of two American diplomats offer him new hope and the prospect of making his fortune.

Argentina is changing, and as his country slowly makes its peace with the outside world, Richard tentatively begins a love affair—but the Faustian bargain he has made with experience is gradually becoming a nightmare. Richard tells his picaresque story with a mixture of confessional guilt and awestruck wonder.
"A fine novel, remarkable for the purity of its ambitions."—The Washington Post Book World

"An impressive, beautifully modulated, unexpectedly affecting book."—Jeffrey Eugenides, author of The Virgin Suicides

"This is one of the most absorbing new novels I`ve read in quite some time."—The Irish Times

"Tóibín`s simple but eloquent telling of this personal story is sometimes explicit, often moving, and always vivid in its portrayal of Argentina and its people."—Library Journal (starred review)

"Beginning the book is like sneaking into a diary; ending it is like losing a fascinating friend."—Harpers Bazaar

"A smart literary novel that is also a satisfying page-tuner."—Out


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From Amazon

In the past decade Colm Tóibín has garnered international fame for his fiction, reporting, and travel writing. Now, in his new novel, The Story of Night, he breaks new emotional ground with the story of a gay man coming of age in Argentina during the Falklands War. Tóibín weds his two themes--the ongoing Argentinean struggle toward democracy and the personal journey of a man coming out--with intellectual deftness and literary agility. Written with grace and understatement The Story of Night is Tóibín's best work yet. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Toibin (The Heather Blazing, LJ 2/1/93) lives in Ireland, but his newest novel successfully re-creates the turmoil and confusion of the postmilitary regime in Argentina in the early 1980s as if he had been witness. Richard Garay is an Argentinean, bored by his job as an English tutor and frustrated by his hidden homosexuality. His fluency with language attracts the attention of Claudio Canetto, who hires him as a liaison to foreign investors in his campaign for president of Argentina. Though the campaing is unsuccessful, it draws Garay into an uneasy alliance with a pair of powerful Americans who hope to influence the next election. Toibin flirts with the exploration of a tainted political process, but the heart of the book details the secret relationship between Garay and Canetto's son Pablo; as the country recovers from the Falklands War and the oppression of military leadership, their pairing grows from lust to love as the new threat of AIDS looms. Toibin's simple but eloquent telling of this personal story is sometimes explicit, often moving, and always vivid in its portrayal of Argentina and its people. Highly recommended.?Marc A. Kloszewski, Indiana Free Lib., Indiana, Pa.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Sheer Pleasure to Read" March 27 2001
Format:Paperback
After reading & enjoying Colm Toibin's latest book, "The Blackwater Lightship", I decided I must read his other books. Again, I wasn't disappointed. I enjoyed this beautifully written novel as much as "The Blackwater Lightship." Colm's sentences are very long and full of details, and once you get use to his masterful style of writing you just can't stop reading. I think that's what I like most about his writing, that everything is brought to the surface, and no details are left out.
There are actually two main themes here, and they are combined beautifully. It's the story of Argentina during the Falkland Wars and its struggle for democracy & freedom, and the story of a gay man's coming of age who is also struggling to find himself, his place in life & real love. I think Richard Garay & Pablo's love for each other is beautifully developed in a very sensitive true-to life way. Although your heart may break by the end of this story you'll remember these characters long after you finish this book.
If you like a book that can take you away, make you happy, bring tears to your eyes, and teach you a lot about other people & their cultures, this book is definitely worth a read. This book is written with intelligence and was a sheer pleasure to read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fair June 9 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Although the book starts out with an interesting premise -- the political repression of Argentina paralleled by the emotional and sexual repression of a young Argentine -- it quickly devloves into a rather prosaic gay coming of age story. Midway through the novel all international intrigue is abruptly dropped, and the remainder is a hodge-podge of overwrought love seens. Could have been good, but instead it was only mildly interesting.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A tale of the Falkland War Aug. 23 2003
By gac1003
Format:Paperback
Richard Garay, half-English and half-Argentinian, lives with his mother in Bueons Aires in the 1980s. He's stuck in a teaching job he doesn't like and roams the streets at night, afraid of letting anyone close to him know about his homosexuality. But Argentina is changing, and Richard soon must change with it.
He befriends one of his students, Jorge Caneto, and travels with him to Barcelona. His mother passes away. The Falklands War begins and ends. Once the war is over, Jorge's father, a powerful man in Argentina, gets Richard a job as an interpretor for the foreigners coming over to assist with the privatization of Argentina's oil industry. And, he also hopes that Richard will help sway the visitors in the political arena. At one of the fundraiser parties, Richard spies Pablo, a beautiful young man and also Jorge's brother.
Richard slowly begins a romance with Pablo. But, Pablo's past comes back to haunt the relationship. Soon, Richard is having to deal not only with that past but also his future and the threat of HIV and AIDS.
I felt that the author couldn't make up his mind what story to tell: the political intrigue of the privatization of Argentina or the romance of Pablo and Richard. Either one would have been sufficient, but the stories didn't combine well and made it seem as though I were reading two novels at once.
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4.0 out of 5 stars #84 of the 100 Best Gay & Lesbian Novels April 1 2002
Format:Paperback
Argentina in the 1970s and 1980s was a time of change and growth. Richard Garay lives with his ailing mother in Buenos Aires, where he cruises for sex with other men and works at a loathsome job. After the Falkland War, he comes into contact with two American diplomats who become the catalysts for Richard's own changes and growth. He finds better work, becomes more connected with the world at large, and later finds a man to love. But even in Argentina, the far-reaching tendrils of AIDS touch everyone. The last third of the novel becomes an eloquent testament to the power of love and hope, against all odds. In Tóibín's capable hands, what could have been a tedious story about politics becomes a wondrous journey of a man into the world at large through to the other side.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An awakening in Argentina Jan. 1 2001
Format:Paperback
I picked up this book quite by accident assuming it to be a historical novel set in an Argentine backdrop. It had some of that but was much more. Using the years after the dictatorship of 1976-1983, the author begins the story focusing on a quiet unassuming young man who lives with his mother and just happens to be gay. For those who are anxious to learn more about the awakening of democracy, there is some of that. The dominant theme covers the US role in Argentina's changing political climate. However, as the book develops the reader finds the focus of the novel shifting gradually to the main character's sexual coming of age. The story moves quickly from political cocktail parties with the Argentine elite to furtive homosexual encounters in a Buenos Aires steam bath. As the reader follows the progression of events, the main character becomes a success both emotionally and economically. I found myself encouraging him on. It is easy to like this guy and hope that he can overcome the constraints of living with his aging mother in a culture that does not celebrate his sexuality. The sex scenes, both homosexual and heterosexual, hold the reader focused on the struggle that the main character is feeling. Ultimately the book shifts to the topic of AIDS. This was a disappointment as it introduced a theme written about so many times before and not necessary to the story's conclusion. Notwithstanding that, this book is very well written and held my interest from beginning to end. I would recommend it highly.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Stirring, Passionate and eventually Heartbreaking
If you like a classic romantic novel which is based on character development caused by repressive surroundings, then you should read this story. Read more
Published on Nov. 4 2000 by Bert Krus
4.0 out of 5 stars surprised
i will confess to be surprised by how good this book was. i did not know much of colm toiban and less of what this book might be about. Read more
Published on Aug. 30 2000 by "buggerer"
5.0 out of 5 stars An Insightful, Moving Glimpse of a Gay Argentinian
Colm Toibin's beautifully crafted story takes us to Argentina as it was in the recent past and conveys us to where the country might be going. Read more
Published on March 20 2000 by Erick Myers
5.0 out of 5 stars This novel is quite simpely, staggering. READ IT
All creeds, sexualities, nationalities, and gender are immaterial for understanding this sublime piece of fiction. Read more
Published on Oct. 20 1999
2.0 out of 5 stars after a certain point. . .i couldn't pick it up.
Toibin's prose is, technically speaking, above reproach, however, the total effect is bloodless and dispassionate. Read more
Published on April 27 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Creme-de-la-creme of modern novel writing
Toibin's treatment of some key social, political and sexual issues are beautifully intertwined in this mesmeric novel. Read more
Published on April 20 1999 by Marc Prema-Ratner, marcpr@eulogy.co.uk
5.0 out of 5 stars Psychological closeness to the reality of AIDS
The complexity of the AIDS parts of the novel are psychologically very stringent. It contains so many aspects of the disease, it's reality and consequences, that Mr. Read more
Published on June 12 1998
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