Be Near Me MP3 CD – Jan 2009
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|MP3 CD, Jan 2009||
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This burnished gem of a novel has drama, emotional resonance and intellectual power enough to recall one's favorite 19th century writers. At its center is David Anderton, a Scottish-born, Oxford-educated Catholic priest who, after years in England, assumes a parish in working-class Scotland to be closer to his mother, a writer and free spirit. Now in his 50s, David recalls his own passions vividly, but he has traded his 1960s university ideals to favor the Iraq war, and his realizations of romantic love for a life of the cloth. From early on, there's a glaring gap between David's first-person recollections and the elitist, alienating affectations he assumes with others. His Dalgarnock parishioners are suspicious of his education; his only companions are his sardonic but morally stringent housekeeper, Mrs. Poole, and a pair of thuggish teenagers, Mark and Lisa, who remind him of his own youthful rebellions. As Mark and Lisa draw David into their chaotic lives, the novel builds to an inevitable clash between the spiritual and the secular, the adult and adolescent, the utopian 1960s and the neoconservative 2000s. Throughout, O'Hagan (The Missing) enchants with his effortless prose, vivid characters and David's uncanny asides, making O'Hagan's fourth novel a heartrending tour de force. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* When David Anderton, a Catholic priest, requests an assignment close to his aging mother in Glasgow, he lands in tiny Dalgarnock, Ayrshire. Despite his own Scottish roots, his time in England means that, to the locals, he can be only English. Catholics are also a minority in Dalgarnock, but perhaps Anderton's greatest sin is another kind of otherness: his cultured tastes and his rich aesthetic sensibility. (He's "posh," as his parishoners might put it.) The story centers around Anderton's questionable relationship with a local boy--a midlife crisis leads the priest in a disastrous direction--but this is not, exactly, a tale about a pedophile priest. In gorgeous, melancholy prose, O'Hagan portrays a man who misapprehends both the community and himself, leading us on a thoughtful exploration of faith and of religion's role in an increasingly un-Catholic world--and, eventually, of the simple need to love and be loved. The juxtaposition of Anderton's memories of privileged life at Oxford with the cheerful ignorance of the Dalgarnock youth provides an open-eyed elegy--that is to say, cognizant of the contradictions of nostalgia--for a more beautiful way of life. A rich and fascinating novel that promises rewards with rereading. Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
the book only three (or 3.5, as she claims in her review), that I want to remedy her review. This is a terrific
book. The writing is beautiful--not lah-dee-dah beautiful, but strong and thoughtful--and the characterizations
are splendid. I believed utterly in the conflicted priest, in his dying, snobbish, decent housekeeper, and most
of all I believed in the ghastly beast that the Scottish town became.
If you are a reader of highly literate material, I recommend this. If you like your novels more obvious,
skip it. (But you will be missing a fine book).
This is a story about distance and loss. David, an Oxford student, falls in love with Conor, a young man from another college. After a certain kiss with Conor, David knows where he his headed...the priesthood. As it turns out, that's one of the few pieces of knowledge David will carry with him.
Much of the book centers around Father David's time in the Scottish town of Dalgarnock many years later, where he is not exactly welcomed by all. He meets an adolescent couple, younger than their years, befriends them, takes them on trips and becomes their confidante. After falling for Mark, the male of this duo, David is drawn into him one night and an indiscretion occurs. A trial follows and the rest is left for the reader to witness.
"Be Near Me", like the fine wine David drinks, simply gets better with each passing chapter. O'Hagan's narrative is so good that I found it hard to leave his book for even a minute. Each character evokes a certain empathy...not an easy task with multiple principals. By telling a Catholic priest's story from within, O'Hagan captures the "other side" of what we so often miss in the headlines of abuse. It is the choice of not facing one's sexuality that often draws men into the priesthood coupled with the ensuing loneliness that tortures its victims. The author presents this side with pathos and tenderness.
I highly recommend "Be Near Me" as it is a compelling work and one of the best books of the year. O'Hagan has created a masterpiece and the reader will understand the joys and sorrows of each of the individuals portrayed. It is a tour de force, full of emotion, depth and care.
"...the heart will always have the last word, and when the word is love we can recognize, we can respond, we can submit and we can try to ignore, but we can never choose. Love is not a matter of choice but an obdurate fact of surrender."
Father David's mother is also a wonderfully drawn character - full of a steadfast and undemonstrative mother's love and good advice. The author's gift in leading the reader past distaste and condemnation of the protagonist's actions through the character's own search for self-understanding is quite an accomplishment, but it seems almost effortless.
Though the stories of sexual misdeeds in the church is not uncommon in these present times, the author succeeds in making other themes in the novel strike a more resonant chord within readers. Themes such as devotion, friendship, love, even ethics are given due consideration and the character of the priest arouses one's sympathy, despite his failings. A well-written novel that enables us to gain an insightful perspective of the central characters' lives.
While this book is certainly no whodunit, in a sense, this novel deals with a greater mystery: How shall a middle aged Catholic priest deal with the perils of doubting his long held faith, and how does he cope with his long surpressed temporal desires.
In a lesser hand, this book would have been pedestrian effort. In this author's hands, this ouvre is a small treasure.
Grab it, read it, savor it, and then wait for Andrew O'Hagan's next book!