The Folding Star Paperback – May 16 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Hollinghurst's (The Swimming Pool Library) erotic novel of a language tutor's obsession with his teenage pupil was a Booker Prize finalist.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From Library Journal
Hollinghurst's first novel, The Swimming Pool Library (LJ 9/1/88), which offered a somewhat critical look at gay life in pre-AIDS England, received much critical acclaim. This, his second novel, is also likely to receive considerable praise-and excoriation. Its theme is obsession and its object is a 17-year-old Belgian youth, who, just prior to disappearing, is graphically ravished by his 32-year-old English tutor. While Luc is no angel and, in fact, can be seen as the seducer in this incident, the fact that he is a minor (at least by U.S. standards) and Edward his teacher are sure to land the work on more than one banned list. This is too bad, because taken as a whole the novel offers a fascinating, often eloquent look at the nature of desire and the impossibility of making time stand still. There will definitely be an audience for this book, but it will be limited. Larger public and academic libraries should have a copy available. [Finalist for the British Booker Prize.-Ed.]-David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
--David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The story is basically that of an aging gay male becoming obsessed with his beautiful young student. Edward Manners becomes the tutor for a wealthy high school aged fellow, Luc. At first Edward sees a thin immature youth but as the story progresses, Edward becomes more obsessed with Luc and the descriptions of Luc change to match Edward's changing perception. This portion of the story is well told and certainly accurately portrays the process of obsession that seduces gradually, obliterating common sense and good judgement.
Edward recognizes that he has lost his bearings when he finds himself continually thinking about Luc, spying on him when he is on holiday with his friends, imagining him having sex with other young men or women, remaining fixated as to whether Luc is gay or straight, and even leaving tutoring sessions to use the bathroom so that he can smell Luc's dirty laundry.
Hollinghurst then begins to break the bubbles or desire that Edward has created. Luc becomes more realistic and less idealized. He becomes more human and more mundane. Eventually all the questions Edward has about Luc are answered, or at least many of the questions are answered. Edward begins the painful process of healing the wounds left by obsession as Luc drifts out of his life.
I found the book to be one of the best descriptions of the natural history of obsession since Robert Plant's The Catholic. Obsession is revealed to be a wounding, out of mind experience, from which we only gradually recover. Hollingshurst caught it well in this well written book.
Manners is older and smarter than his prey, and he exploits his position and wordly knowledge to attain that which should not divinely be his own. And he knows it. It is all at once a self-effacing and self-serving theme. A man who has seen his better years, trying to stoke the flames back into being. He knows he does not deserve the angelic creatures he chases, but he chases them yet. If he marries his body with them he advances his pathetic situation even if only by proxy and contact.
Is Hollinghurst embracing the plight of the modern lonely Homosexual? Is this the essence of the lonely Gay? Is some dejected creature trying to elevate his sense of self-worth by gaining acceptance from other more worthy men? Is he reaching for self-accpetance by seeing himself unioned with the manifestations of his young self? Perhaps it is this conflict that many men face and try to conquer. I know this will not be pleasing and a little to neat for most Homosexuals to embrace, but I think it warrants consideration vice an early dismissal.
All in all the novel left me feeling lonely. I had a tremendous feeling of discontent when the story had concluded. I felt the desperation of Manners and I wondered where on earth this man belonged...seemingly nowhere. I think the Novel delivers exactly what Hollinghurst intended. It is not a read for the weak of heart and don't look to be spoon fed a wonderfull little Cinderella tale where the goodness of man defeats physical beauty and finally the chubby older guy lives happily ever after with the Adonis. It ain't happening, shipmate!
Somewhere in my remarks I tried to work in how much I enjoyed and believed the gritty, all-too-real sex scenes. But I missed my mark.