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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Love and Death on Long Island

Gilbert Adair

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To purchase Love and Death on Long Island

Title: Love and Death on Long Island
Author: Gilbert Adair
Genre: Novel
Written: 1990
Length: 138 pages
Availability: Love and Death on Long Island - US
Love and Death on Long Island - UK
Love and Death on Long Island - Canada
Love and Death on Long Island - India
Amour et mort à Long Island - France
Liebestod auf Long Island - Deutschland
Amor y muerte en Long Island - España
DVD: Love and Death on Long Island - US

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Our Assessment:

A- : an excellent novella of love, longing, and art in the modern world

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . 1/12/1998 .
London Rev. of Books . 13/9/1990 John Lanchester

  From the Reviews:
  • "Das schnelle Umkippen glaubt man nicht, ein Grund dafür auch, daß das humoristische Gegenstück zum Tod in Venedig nicht die Novelle bleiben konnte, als die es geplant war." - Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Gilbert Adair's elegant little novella tells the story of a renowned English author, born in the 1930's, who walks into the wrong movie and finds himself confronted both by a modern world that has passed him by and a figure on the screen that will first haunt and then obsess him. Comfortably off (Giles inherited a nice little fortune) and relatively alone in the world (widowed, the only person he is in regular contact with is his housekeeper) Giles lives his dull routine until the day when he is caught in front of a cinema in a downpour. The adverts for an E.M.Forster adaptation intrigue him and he, who had not been to the movies in ages, purchases a ticket. Sitting down in the cinema he realizes that what is on the screen is definitely not Forster -- it turns out there are two screens in the cineplex, and he has mistakenly gone to the wrong film. This one -- Hotpants College II -- is not what he wants to see, but preparing to make a quick exit a figure on the screen captures his attention.
       So begins an obsession with a young American actor, Ronnie Bostock. Adair carefully builds up the obsession, as Giles is in turn lead to furtive purchases of American teen magazines and a video recorder in order to learn more about his newfound idol, finally even travelling to Long Island to seek Bostock out in person.
       The story is also very much one of Giles confronting modernity. Resolutely stuck in his ways, many aspects of everyday life are foreign to him -- he does not realize that he must purchase a television in order to use his video recorder, for example -- but he is no simpleton and he catches on quickly. It is amusing and thoroughly entertaining to follow his efforts first to find out more about Bostock, and then to meet him.
       The title of the novel hearkens back to Mann's story, Death in Venice, and like that book it also evokes an era and a setting. Staid, old England contrasts to the new, the young, the American -- perfectly set out in the typically American town on Long Island where Bostock lives. The two worlds can meet, even co-exist, on some level, and to a certain extent the old -- England and its literary tradition -- can seduce the new -- the US, film -- though not completely. There is no question as to the winner in this culture clash.
       The sexual aspect is to some extent baffling to Giles, who never went in for the usual public school frolics and who was, after all, married. But he sees something in Bostock -- youth, lost time, a lost world -- that completely entrances him.
       Wistful, touching, this a fine piece indeed, and we recommend it strongly.

       Richard Kwietniowski's excellent 1997 film adaptation is fairly true to the book, and captures much of the atmosphere Adair set out to create. With excellent performances by John Hurt and Jason Priestley it is eminently worth seeing, and in may respects exemplary as a film-adaptation of a book.

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Love and Death on Long Island: Reviews: Love and Death on Long Island - the movie:
  • The IMDb site on the film, with much information and many links.
Gilbert Adair Other books by Gilbert Adair under review: Other authors and books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       British author Gilbert Adair (1944-2011) wrote several novels, as well as several works of non-fiction. He also translated Georges Perec's A Void, for which he won the Scott Moncrieff Prize.

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