ISBN 13: 9780670883561
Publisher: Viking Pr
Publication Date: 1999
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Alan Hollinghurst's tour-de-force debut, The Swimming-Pool Library, was a literary sensation. Edmund White called it "the best book on gay life yet written by an English author." The Village Voice described it as "buoyant, smart, irrepressibly sexy...[with the] heft and resonance of a classic modernist novel." The New York Times Book Review raved about its "shimmering elegance" and "camp-fired wit." The New York Review of Books dubbed his second book, The Folding Star, a "miniature Remembrance of Things Past...an expanded Death in Venice...a homosexual Lolita." The Spell is Hollinghurst's most polished and entertaining novel to date. Here he marries Jane Austen's delicious social asperity with a sly eroticism in a story as romantic and surprising as anything he has written. Set in London and the idyllic countryside, the narrative tracks the interlocking passions of four men. As each character falls successively under the spell of love or drugs, country living or urban glamour, The Spell unfurls into a richly witty picture of modern gay life...and of all human affairs of the heart.
"A meticulous exterior eye surveys the particulars of gay life....And yet reading this relatively short novel feels laborious. It lacks the campy excessiveness of THE SWIMMING-POOL LIBRARY, and the engaging wy tone of THE FOLDING STAR....There is something of Proust's grand sense of a Sodom in which aristocratic souls are condemned to absurd physical debasements."
John Updike, New Yorker, 05/31/1999Review:
"Like its two predecessors, Alan Hollinghurst's third novel is almost entirely devoted to the subject of male homosexual desire, but it's the only one of his books you could really call a 'gay novel'....The book sometimes feels as if it's meant to be parodying the themes of the author's earlier ones: here, betrayal is merely cheating, and obsession is nothing more than randiness."
Daniel Mendelsohn, New York Times Book Review, 04/25/1999
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