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Gentleman Death Paperback – Apr 2 2002
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On first beholding Robert Fraser, the moderately successful writer-spouse of someone much more famous, with his comfortable middle-class existence, his writer's block, and his vague musings on mortality, the reader may feel some initial unease. However, the fear of being subjected to yet another undistinguished examination of the bourgeois mid-life crisis passes almost at once. Graeme Gibson's Gentleman Death is an absorbing and distinguished novel, introducing us to Robert Fraser's inner life in a way that avoids both the temptation of the roman à clef and any trace of self-indulgence or self-pity. Fraser is an authentically fictional creation who struggles to shape the characters of his current unfinished novel, only to find them slipping out of control in a way that parallels his unease with the death of close family members and his own mercifully benign colorectal tumours. With dark, if not exactly macabre, humour, Gibson explores these issues in a way that connects them to wider events as well as the development of his characters. As we follow Fraser along the dark corridors of his life, we begin to sense a dim but palpable redemption. The resolution, with its sudden switch to the third person, is a final, remarkable coup in a novel filled with literary and human re-evaluations. Its reissue is a welcome acknowledgement of a Canadian classic. --Robyn Gillam
“Gentleman Death is a modern danse macabre. A wise and powerful chronicle of fathers and sons and brothers on a new voyage of discovery to the end of the night.”
“In this engaging novel, Graeme Gibson uses the foibles of an aging novelist to address the unaccountable fears that obsess us all sometimes in the small hours of the morning.…His story steams along, effortlessly propelled by fine prose, wit, and insight.…Delightful.…”
–Quill & Quire (starred review)
“An intense, passionate, deeply felt meditation on human mortality and mutability which speaks directly to the heart as well as to the mind.…[A] tour de force.…”
“Utterly involving.… An elegant, poignant novel and a repeatedly funny one.”
“An engaging exploration of memory and death. Complex yet accessible, it is an illuminating guide through the rich territory that W.B. Yeats called the “rag-and-bone shop of the heart.”
“A richly mature book, which made me cackle with laughter and stare into the distance with recognition.…For me, Gibson’s free-wheeling and noble-spirited novel was a gift: one of those rare books which provide grown-up sustenance.”
“Gibson writes clean, hard prose and his literary sensibility seems tough and unflinching. His insights into the mellowing capacity of middle aged are particularly fine.”
–Winnipeg Free Press
“Without a doubt, Gentleman Death is a courageously eccentric book.…Delicate and admirable.…”
“Right from the first page you know you’re in good hands.…The language and sensibility of this novel is both gritty and beautiful.…Gibson writes for a highly literate audience while remaining accessible to anyone interested in the power of language and storytelling.”
“With his hardy, no-frills style, Gibson adroitly shows how real life and fiction blend, how dreams and memories merge and how each of us makes what we can out of life–and death.”
“Not every novelist dares as much and delivers as much as Graeme Gibson does in Gentleman Death.…This is serious stuff, but it is carried off in such exuberant language and with such memorable characters and incidents that reading the novel is like taking a ride on a roller coaster through comic and tragic neighbourhoods of life.”