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The Great Man Paperback – May 13 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (May 13 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307277348
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307277343
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.7 x 20.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #504,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


The Great Man is as unexpectedly generous as it is entertaining. . . . Wise and expansive. . . . Christensen is a witty observer of the art universe.” —The New York Times “Christensen's writing is clear-eyed, muscular, bitingly funny, and supremely caustic about the niceties of social relations, contemporary American culture, and sexual politics.” —O, The Oprah Magazine “These characters are wonderfully developed and break the stereotype of the aging female protagonist. Christensen . . . boldly has raised the bar.” —USA Today "Nimble, witty and discerning, Kate Christensen is single-handedly reinvigorating the comedy of manners with her smart and disemboweling novels of misanthropes, cultural and aesthetic divides, private angst, social ambition and appetites run amok." —Chicago Tribune

About the Author

Kate Christensen is also the author of the novels In the Drink, Jeremy Thrane, and The Epicure's Lament. Her essays and articles have appeared in various publications including Salon, Mademoiselle, The Hartford Courant, Elle, and the best-selling anthology The Bitch in the House. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband.

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
When an influential figure painter, Oscar Feldman, dies suddenly, he is eulogized and his obituary describes him as a man who left behind a wife of many years, a son, and his sister, Maxine Feldman, also a painter.

But what the obituary leaves out, and what two men, designated biographers, discover, is much more.

On the other side of the city, a woman, Teddy St.Cloud, who was his mistress for many years, and the mother of two daughters, has her own story to tell.

As the biographers descend, separately, interviewing the principals in the story, as well as a cast of characters that include the two daughters, a completely different picture emerges.

In uncovering the "true" story behind the legend, the biographers also unearth a long buried secret that has the potential to totally dethrone the famous man.

In the end, the facts are presented, albeit with completely different perspectives by the two writers, and a more balanced picture of the great man is born.

A compelling story, The Great Man, as told by Ms. Christensen, reminds us that nothing is ever as it seems.

By Laurel-Rain Snow, Author of "Miles to Go", etc.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 38 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Couldn't Put this book down Oct. 4 2008
By E. K. Johnson - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The style of this novel is very unique and hooks you from the start. I couldn't put it down. The four women who loved this (not-so) great man are so sensitively crafted by the author that you both, at once, admire them and question their devotion to such a hollow person as Oscar. The book also asks some important questions, such as what constitutes "great" art, who gets to decide, what role do women play in the art world, and how are we, as viewers, implicated in the social construction of the artistic genius.

Additionally, the inclusion of the two men writing separate biographies of the great man add tremendously to the story. The obituary and the two reviews at the end act as book ends to the story and add to its unique style. Bravo Ms. Christenson.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Great exposure of art world and psychology of people involved. Sept. 18 2008
By Dmitri Priimak - Published on
Format: Paperback
Great idea for a book. The famous painter dies and his close lovers, admirers and daughters come in together due to the fact that at least two biographers are on the prowl. All this results in digging out well buried emotions and past deeds to light of the day. That is the basic plot, but what sets this novel apart is very direct and concise use of English. The author appears almost transparent, as she does not add un-plausible elements to enhance the prose. Personages in the book, mostly woman, seem to come to life, not in details of environment, but in their psychological exposure by the author. None appear flat and unremarkable, or one sided on good vs. bad scale and yet very different. One notable achievement of the book is how well mental states of participants of social interactions are shown. We are given a glimpse of how woman pick up non verbal cues and judge their partners. This is all done without any hint of author trying to be cute, which would have reduced it to a typical chick lit.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Engaging start; poor follow through Aug. 4 2008
By A. M. Hopkins - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading several sterling reviews and hearing about Christensen's Pen Faulkner Award, I was expecting a stronger dose of good reading. The first few chapters were engaging, offered intriguing characters and seemed headed in a promising direction. After some impressive build up, the story took a disappointing shortcut to a pretty lame denoument. Ms. Christensen's writing is vivid but her imagination for the sexuality of "older" women is uninsightful at best. What a wasted opportunity to tell a really captivating tale! She will understand this some day.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Funny, poignant, endearing tour de force June 22 2008
By S. Taylor - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Great Man is a great book with great characters and a great flow of dialogue, drama, and spicy romance--all guaranteed to give great pleasure to the reader! I was reluctant to complete this great short novel because I knew if the story ended I would no longer be able to share in the bittersweet adventures of several great women whose lives I had become intimately involved in. I just wanted to read more and more.

In The Great Man the great Ms. Christensen creates characters who remind us of elderly women and men we have known in real life who have endeared themselves to us in spite of their idiosyncrasies, or perhaps because of them! Ms. Christensen`s characters come alive through a seamless sequence of encounters with each other, as well as intriguing minor characters, all of whom, for one reason or another, are forced to focus on "The Great Man" five years after he has died. Each has his or her own view on the amount of greatness this man possessed while alive.

I was reading this book as I was touring alone in Canada, looking forward to communing with the characters each evening before going to sleep. After finishing the book I began to feel suddenly lonely in my travels, and I finally realized it was because my extraordinary companions were no longer part of my trip! They were now packed away in my luggage, only cherished memories, along with those from Quebec City and Montreal.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Extremely well-written Jan. 7 2009
By Amy Steele - Published on
Format: Paperback
Fabulous read about an artist as told, after his death, from the viewpoint of four women: his wife, his lover, the lover's best friend and his sister, also an artist. The women are all in their late 60s and early 70s and they have vastly different memories and relationships with this man and with each other. When two biographers come around to interview the women it forces them to speak to each other and for a long-standing secret to be revealed. Masterful writing by Christensen.

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