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"Life isn't divided into genres. It's a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Line of Beauty

21-year-old Nick Guest has graduated from Oxford and is moving in with the Feddens, a wealthy family of London society, whose patriarch is a member of parliament. It is 1983 and Nick is venturing shyly into homosexual forays while avidly pursuing and admiring the glamour of high society.

This book is astounding. From Hollinghurst's complicated spill of sentences, the reader is introduced to the glittering, yet sickly superficial world of the London elite. Nick is at the center of it all, at first as a shy and awkward naif, and then transformed into a preening "don" as he learns to mimic the airs and graces of the wealthy. He fondly believes he is pursuing this "line of beauty" by become one of the elite, but is unaware of the inherent crassness of these people. He is blinded by their charm, their false lustre.

While reading this book, it came upon me suddenly that the pursuit of beauty is an admirable thing, no matter what you believe beauty to be defined as. However, it cannot be denied that beauty cannot and will not return the favor. What you find to be beautiful is generally aloof, cold, and far-and-away. Think of a vista of sweeping mountains, a moving song, even a beautiful person....you're never very warmed by the beauty..in fact it almost provides a cold chill -- it is deeply alluring, yes -- but still heartbreaking in the knowledge that it is unattainable.

This was the message I gleaned from Hollinghurst's wonderful story. And never did I feel preached at...Hollinghurst wrapped his conceptioins in gossamer layers of wit, subtlety and delicious humor. A book worthy of many re-reads and most certainly worthy of the Man Booker Prize.

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