The Folding Star, by Alan Hollinghurst

Second paragraph of third chapter:

I took a shower, maddened by the sudden shrinking of the supply, spinning the hot tap and getting nothing but a feeble rope of cold. I stood out on the floor, leaning in through the curtain to test it. Then there was a far-off whining and knocking from the cistern in the roof, and the hot came thrashing back in an instant devilry of steam. Of course! It was my new neighbours at work, their shower had some kind of priority over mine, they could draw my water off and leave me shivering with annoyance.

This was the book that kicked off my sudden interest in the James Tait Black Memorial Prize last week. I thought it was excellent. It's been described as halfway between Death in Venice and À la recherche du temps perdu, but I think that's a bit unfair; yes, the central emotional relationship is the narrator's crush on a young boy, but there's a lot of well observed stuff about art, sex, youth, bars, education, the German occupation of Belgium in the second world war, annoying Spanish girls in the neighbouring flat who use up your hot water, and what it's like being an Englishman in his early thirties living in Belgium who has enough Dutch to get by. The narrator knows that his behaviour is foolish, but he is surrounded by other flawed people behaving equally foolishly, and there are dark secrets that he does not spot until he is led into them. An intense novel of both the soul and body. Recommended.

This was the most popular book in Librarything added to my uread shelves in 2010. Next in that list is Godslayer: Volume II of The Sundering, by Jacqueline Carey, but I wonder if I'll want to leap straight to the middle book of one of her trilogies just after reading the middle book of another.

One thought on “The Folding Star, by Alan Hollinghurst

  1. “All” is an exaggeration. I liked Adric, as I liked Wesley Crusher years later.

    I loved “State of Decay”; one of the examples of Doctor Who, even in its $4.50 per episode budget days, trying to THINK BIG. “What if you had a vampire who could consume worlds? What kind of a stake would you put through its heart?”

    Plus it had the “Ah! Definitely Earth technology!” moment.

    I have fond memories of “Lord Nimon! Loooord Niiiiii-mon! It is I, Soldeed!” and his sudden jaw-dropped “Oh Crap” face.

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