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Edinburgh: A Novel Paperback – Nov 9 2002

4.7 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; First edition (Nov. 9 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312305036
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312305031
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #491,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Booklist

If a story about child molestation could ever be beautiful, this first novel comes very close to that unusual mark. Fee is a 12-year-old soprano in a boys choir in Maine. The choir director, however, is revealed to be a malicious pederast, who selects favorites from the choir and subjects them to frequent sexual abuse. The pain that Fee and his friends endure while growing up with this horrible fact, even after the director is imprisoned, is almost unfathomable. But Fee gets through it, although the dread stays with him all his life--through his self-destructive college days and as he courts a succession of lovers. Years later, as he begins teaching at a prep school, he encounters a beautiful student named Warden, the son of Fee's former choirmaster, who knows nothing of his father's deeds. Confronting this student, Fee is forced to contend with the demons of his boyhood and the very way he has lived his life. A spectacular, gripping, and gut-wrenching tale. Michael Spinella
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Haunting . . .complex . . . sophisticated . . . [Chee] says volumes with just a few incendiary words." - New York Times

"A coming-of-age novel in the grand Romantic tradition, where passions run high, Cupid stalks Psyche, and love shares the dance floor with death . . . A lovely, nuanced, never predictable portrait of a creative soul in the throes of becoming." - Washington Post

"Lyrical . . . arresting . . . compelling . . . Edinburgh is beautifully imagined and executed . . . Profound and poetic . . . Chee's is a voice worth listening to." - San Francisco Chronicle

" Edinburgh has the force of a dream and the heft of a life. And Alexander Chee is a brilliant new writer." -Annie Dillard

"Alexander Chee gets my vote for the best new novelist I've read in some time. Edinburgh is moody, dramatic-and pure." -Edmund White

"Few coming-of-age novels truly stir one's emotions or lead readers to consider the trauma of their own lives. Edinburgh does both." - Newsday
" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This beautifully written novel's subject matter will probably alienate some readers, but I urge you to read this entire review before deciding whether this book is for you.
Twelve year old Aphias Zhe, nicknamed Fee, has a crystalline soprano voice, and so when he auditions for a boys choir, he is immediately accepted. What Fee knows intuitively becomes concrete as the choir director, Big Eric, takes Fee and a few other boys on an outing in the woods: Big Eric is a pedophile who preys on the young boys' vulnerability. Where others cannot, Fee sees right through to the man and his preference for fair-headed boys like Fee's best friend, Peter. Fee, who is part Korean, part Scottish, is not a favorite; he watches mainly from a distance, knowing the danger Big Eric poses but unwilling to articulate it. He hopes that the false front Big Eric has constructed will never crumble for, if it does, Fee fears he will also be revealed for what he is. When the choir director is caught, the wake of his crime crushes his victims, even those who live to adulthood.
As Fee grows up, he appears to recover, but inside he wants to die. He is gay, not because of the choir director's crime but in spite of it. Fee wants love, tenderness, someone who can rival the affection he felt for Peter, and not the predatory sex Big Eric sought. Yet, Fee continues to be haunted by what happened. When as an adult he meets a blonde boy who reminds him of Peter and who, despite his young age, has a connection to what happened long ago, Fee must confront his demons.
While at times overly lyrical, the novel is a delicate coming-of-age story. Chee has a remarkable command of images and language which add rich layers to what could have been a simple plot.
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Format: Hardcover
"Edinburgh" is a deeply moving novel about the damage inflicted by a child molester to the lives of his victims. It seemed to me to examine how actions have repercussions beyond the immediate - how the past is carried around within people, and how it can influence and compromise individual day-to-day moral behaviour. In those senses, although "Edinburgh" is no doubt a "gay novel", the themes Chee explores are also universal ones. The book is far better and more interesting than many other novels because of that breadth of vision.
It would give the plot away too much to go into more detail, other than to say that the author's writing style is often a challenge to read: events are frequently referred to obliquely or alluded to rather than described directly. Once you get used to this, the emotional effect is created by a feeling of close proximity to events rather than by stark realistic descriptions of them.
The overall feel this novel gave me was one of trying to understand human failure and the effects of such failure, and by doing so, to attempt to learn.
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Format: Hardcover
Alexander Chee's first novel is the tale of a demon fox who is finally captured. Aphias Zee or Fee is an American of Korean and Scottish descent. In early age Fee's grandfather tells him the tale of Lady Tammamo, a fox who fell in love and, after being ridiculed by the community after her husband's death, engulfed herself and her husband's body in flames. He believes himself to be a fox in the shape of a man. Greek mythology informs his destiny as well, subtly setting the stage upon which the events of his life play. Yet, above the decorous theatre is a profoundly human story of Fee's experience growing up in Maine and, along with eleven other boys, suffering sexual abuse at the hands of a Boys Chorus instructor named Big Eric. Sex and suicide surround Fee through his entire adolescence and teenage years. He learns somehow to survive with the elements of creation and death orbiting him constantly, but it is an empty sort of existence for him. Passion is expended on lovers he doesn't care for. The guilt of his former instructor attaches itself to him as he discovers quickly that he is a homosexual himself. His natural desire is tragically intertwined with the other's perversity. His first love, Peter, becomes for him a distorted mirror image of all he is not: blonde, straight and freed by death. Thus, he embarks on an endless struggle to merge with this image, to fall into it, be devoured and emerge cleansed by flame. Despite surviving (barely) through college, making close friends and finding a lover, Bridely, who he marries in a commitment ceremony, Fee is unable to escape from his past and the conception of his own destiny militated by his demon fox spirit. He is paired finally with a spectre from the past and the mirror image he longed to meld into.Read more ›
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By A Customer on Sept. 2 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I have to say, though, that the first review by Publishers Weekly should not be included here. The reviewer got several major details of the book wrong (Fee's absent father was also a child molester? His father was not absent, nor a child molester!) and seemed not to have actually read the book. Unbelievable.
Anyway, I was deeply touched by this novel. I felt that Chee was not afraid to get to the heart of things, and because he had the courage to enter where no one should enter, I also had courage to follow him. I love how the prose is internal, no chit-chat, just the hard, dark lines of the inside of the mind. It's as if Chee was so committed to his characters, the integrity of his characters, that he allows them to live and speak for themselves and create their own narratives. I forgot that I was reading a novel, I forgot that I was reading something crafted. I was inside the tunnel of Fee's (and Warden's) mind and saw glimpses of my own soul. I wept several times during this read. I will read everything this man has ever written...
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