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Prize specimen: no gay novel ever won the Booker Prize--until now.

The Line of Beauty * Man Hollinghurst * Bloomsbury * $24.95

Set in London in the floodlit, hedonistic Thatcher years, Man Hollinghurst's fourth novel, The Line of Beauty--the first gay novel to win the United Kingdom's Booker Prize--is a virtuoso display of cunning observation, stylistic mastery, and wit. A comedy of manners with the unfunny undercurrent of the early years of AIDS, it follows the social and sexual adventures of the aptly named Nicholas Guest. From his beginnings as a scholarship boy at Oxford, Nick becomes a family friend and attic tenant in the well-appointed home of the Tory MP Gerald Fedden--and from there, the kept boyfriend of a millionaire Lebanese film producer. Throughout, Nick moves with a sort of prickling, half-dazzled pleasure through these cliques and places to which he doesn't belong.

More ambitious than Hollinghurst's masterpiece, The Swimming-Pool Library, but "also more diffuse, The Line of Beauty may or may not become a gay classic. But Holtinghurst's sensitivity to his character's emotional shifts is so acute that it may make you uneasily aware of how dull your own senses have become. This willed bluntness of perception is a kind of emotional armor that could cause any of us to end up like the Wildean character Lady Partridge, Gerald Fedden's bigoted mother, a faded belle lurching through her seniority on a palanquin of self-regard.
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Author:Marler, Regina
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 7, 2004
Words:223
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