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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • February 07, 2006


    [14] The Folding Star - Alan Hollinghurst

    The Folding Star tells the story of Edward Manners, a sentimentally detached man who leaves England to earn his living as a private language tutor in a Flemish city. The exquisite prose of this 1994 release delineates a man's aching melancholy and longing for love despite his odd sexual economy during the few years prior to his arrival in Belgium. Therefore, unlike the most recent, highly-acclaimed The Line of Beauty, the novel affords a plot no more than Edward Manners's hypnotic fantasy of one of his young pupils. The 33-year-old seems to be at the emotional crossroad: he often smiles at his own sense of anticipation, of being poised for change, and is ready to fall in love. But he is not used to spending so much time with one person that he thinks of a committed relationship dreads him.

    It might be love at first sight that no sooner has he met Luc than he takes an intimate fancy of him. The adoration quickly becomes a morbid infatuation that manifests into a pepperoni type of spying on the boy during his weekend excursion. He has no doubt driven Edward mad at times - he feels empty and is aching for him. The boy has affected everything Edward does to the point that he suffers without feeling afflicted. The stream of consciousness reflects Manners's despair over the unfulfilled love and the thumping of the heart. He can only console himself with other affairs to which no sentiment constitutes, other than the minimal trust of two people pleasuring themselves together, without much grasp of friendship or understanding.

    The Folding Star is about the unrequited love that leaves a man constantly longing, without the prospect of ever finding love. The mixed feelings of anxious longing and fear of commitment constitute a poignant air that hovers over the novel. It delivers the message that the course of true love never runs straight. The reading reminds one of the similar sentimental nuances Henry James experiences in Colm Toibin's THE MASTER. While Henry James consciously makes it a habit to keep his affection at bay and secretly longs for the intimate companion of a man, Edward Manners always finds himself marveling at how his sudden burst of feeling has wrongfooted him. Both engage in a somnambulist journey to find love. The former lives in such vessel of loneliness and independence - in a social sphere that is pinned and stifled with rules. The latter leaves his home to escape the same constraints only to find himself trapped by his emotions. That his sex life has well petered out before he comes to Belgium is the impediment to his surrender to commitment.

    The Folding Star is a stoic tale about the quest for love. Edward Manners lives among many gay men not only in the regard of the longing for a relationship but also in the sense of the nervousness, excitement, sensuality, and anxiety. One may think of the novel being made up of snapshots all these contradicting emotions that roam back and forth the character. It exquisitely depicts the nuances of affection, the anticipation for intimacy, and the desire of fulfillment of unconditional needs. Hollinghurst renders with artistry and haunting precision love's merging of language and lust.


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    Anonymous Iain said...

    Ummm ... do you really mean "a pepperoni type of spying"? I think perhaps you mean "paparazzi". Or have the technical resources of the peeping tom become more surreal than I had imagined ?

    8/26/2007 4:13 PM  
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