Edinburgh: A Novel Paperback – Nov 9 2002
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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...
Most recent customer reviews
An emotionally devasting work of fiction. Alexander Chee is a writer of extravagant talents. Not since "The Hours" have I had to read through so many tears. Read morePublished on Dec 27 2003 by I. Sondel
Edinburgh explores the story of a boy named "Fee," his life as a child and later that of an adult. Read morePublished on Oct. 14 2003 by Eric K.
I loved this book. You can take any page from it and just that one page alone is a masterpiece. Chee writes like a poet, but he has the talents of a storyteller. Read morePublished on Aug. 24 2003
Chee has a refreshing new/modern style of writing which evokes his generation and his youth. He communicates feelings and angst like it has rarely been done before. Read morePublished on Jan. 5 2003
I would like to recommend this book without giving any of the plot away. The author is Amerasian and in this book he has mixed East and West, an Eastern myth within the form of a... Read morePublished on Dec 3 2002 by Larry Mark MyJewishBooksDotCom
I suppose Mr. Chee had no way of knowing this novel would be so topical given the current child molestation scandal in the Catholic Church. Read morePublished on July 2 2002 by Foster Corbin
Creeping toward the uncomfortable, Edinburgh exposes the taboo of pedophilia. This is a story of defeat, numbness, loss, love, revenge, and pinching reality. Read morePublished on May 21 2002
This is a wonderful, very intense novel, that left me quite stunned at the end of it, which is why this could be a difficult review to write. Read morePublished on May 16 2002 by Simon Cross
There is a joy in discovering new novels by fresh young writers that compares favorably with the elation of returning to the works of the masters. Read morePublished on March 17 2002 by Grady Harp
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