The Line of Beauty. Alan Hollinghurst.

Hollinghurst, Alan. The Line of Beauty. Bloomsbury, New York 2005. F; 9/10.

I was tricked into buying this book by the marketers at Chapters who put it on the “awards” shelf because it won one of the major fiction prizes a few years ago (I always look for that kind of novel and I’m rarely disappointed). Tricked by the publisher too I guess because nothing on the back cover lets you know its sexuality is homosexual. There are hard-detailed man-on-man love scenes obviously relished by the author. So we doddy old straights have to deal with not-our-style eroticism by imagining what it would be like if we were being turned on, and of course there’s some voltage drop in the process.

But for all that, he is an impressive writer. He gives every little moment and detail in a scene an anthropomorphic turn. Hero, hung over, walks into the home of his lover’s wealthy parents, meets the old man and lady along with two or three other relatives and the servants, sees himself in the mirror, and eventually concludes “it was best to prop oneself at a life-like angle in the corner of the sofa and let the family talk trail back and forth.” The whole thing is in London and everybody has been to bloody Oxford.

Anyway, buddy (“Nick”) is working on his PhD on style in Henry James. So the specter of frumpy old Mrs. C—- looms as I understand (witness the way I’ve written this note) that there is a minor-league elevated level of consciousness to be had from reading Hollinghurst. 6.8/8.0

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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