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Real Life

af Brandon Taylor

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MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingSamtaler / Omtaler
8833423,881 (3.75)1 / 50
"A novel of rare emotional power that excavates the social intricacies of a late-summer weekend -- and a lifetime of buried pain. Almost everything about Wallace, an introverted African-American transplant from Alabama, is at odds with the lakeside Midwestern university town where he is working toward a biochem degree. For reasons of self-preservation, Wallace has enforced a wary distance even within his own circle of friends -- some dating each other, some dating women, some feigning straightness. But a series of confrontations with colleagues, and an unexpected encounter with a young straight man, conspire to fracture his defenses, while revealing hidden currents of resentment and desire that threaten the equilibrium of their community"--… (mere)
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Gruppe EmneKommentarerSeneste Meddelelse 
 Booker Prize: 2020 Booker Prize Longlist: Real Life by Brandon Taylor2 ulæste / 2sparemethecensor, august 2020

» Se også 50 omtaler

Viser 1-5 af 34 (næste | vis alle)
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Taylor's debut novel for me is uneven, with insightful and smartly written passages intermixed with overwritten duds that could have benefited from an editor's strikethroughs and a well drawn central character (sharing strong biographical similarities with the author) surrounded by weaker secondary characters - perhaps the ingredients of a talented writer's debut novel, then.

Wallace is nearing completion of graduate school in biochemistry but is unhappy, seemingly resigned to feelings of alienation and otherness. Over a weekend in the present day, with bits of his past parceled out as the story moves along, his reasons become clear. Black, poor, and gay, Wallace had left rural Alabama for grad school in the Midwest with high hopes for the new life opening up before him, which many a student can relate to (I think of Marianne in Rooney's Normal People, on the verge of leaving her small oppressive town for university in the capital, feeling that life will now finally begin).

The reality was disillusioning. The only black student in his program, Wallace experiences the bigotry of low expectations from his program head, his fellow students, even his (mostly) well-meaning group of friends. Naturally introverted, he withdrew into himself, but he is now shaken up on the one hand by an unexpected and explosive romantic relationship with one fellow student, and on the other by a long running animosity directed his way from another student blowing up and calling his desire to remain in grad school into question. Thrown off balance, he is forced to consider what he actually wants, and how his personal history affects how he interacts with others. No final answer is forthcoming in these pages - it is about the dawning of this awareness.

Taylor writes searingly of the near constant background radiation of racist attitudes in which Wallace has to swim alone. Moments that are skipped over or given a mere awkward brief notice by his white friends are unforgettable dispiriting hurts to Wallace, and they accumulate.
Emma puts her head on Wallace's shoulder, but she won't say anything either, can't bring herself to. No one does. No one ever does. Silence is their way of getting by, because if they are silent long enough, then this moment of minor discomfort will pass for them, will fold down into the landscape of the evening as if it never happened. Only Wallace will remember it. That's the frustrating part. Wallace is the only one for whom this is a humiliation.

Taylor also writes convincingly of why people seem existentially driven to pair up, to join their life with another's:
This is perhaps why people get together in the first place. The sharing of time. The sharing of the responsibility of anchoring oneself in the world. Life is less terrible when you can just rest for a moment, put everything down and wait without having to worry about being washed away. People take each other's hands and they hold on as tight as they can, they hold on to each other and to themselves, and when they let go, they can because they know that the other person will not.

These gems fight for attention in the novel with other overdrawn scenes, like a game of tennis in which we learn far too much about Wallace's strengths and weaknesses on the tennis court, and with distractingly over-detailed writing, such as - and this is just pulled from near the end of the book because I just read it and it's the most recent example in my mind - "Wallace fries the fish quickly, turning each piece just as it begins to brown so that it is crispy but not dry or burned." I mean, just say "Wallace fries the fish quickly" and end it!

In sum, a timely novel with some real strong points that Taylor will likely surpass with later novels. ( )
  lelandleslie | Feb 24, 2024 |
Well written but violent and sad. Mostly sad. Unhappy people being unhappy. Even when the words were saying they were happy or at ease they were not happy and very ill at ease. Strange tale.
  BookyMaven | Dec 6, 2023 |
4.5 rounded up. This is an excellent debut but brace yourself for a painful read. There is so much here - overwhelming loneliness, sexuality, violence, friendship, body issues. The description of the experience of racism in academia, the feeling of isolation and the inevitability of it all, is unforgettable. ( )
  mmcrawford | Dec 5, 2023 |
I didn't quite enjoy this, but then again I am not overly fond of clearly autobiographical, "social issue" novels by debut novelists. Still, these are the core concerns of the vast majority of debut novelists, so I can't complain too much. My doubts were more to do with the emptiness of many of the characters and the overall milieu; perhaps I am just becoming too aged and decrepit to care about the easily emotional lives of the youth?

Lest I sound cruel, Taylor's literary style is exacting, beautiful, often poignant, able to conjure up realistic social moments of the zeitgeist as competently as more lyrical emotional passages. I will be keen to read what Taylor does next. ( )
  therebelprince | Oct 24, 2023 |
This novel written by Brandon Taylor is epic genius. His use of language is mythic. Here are a few examples:

“How to wrangle a body that is unreal. The truly awful thing about beauty is that it reminds us of our limits. Beauty is a kind of unrelenting cruelty. It takes the truth, hones it to a terrifying keenness and use it to slice us to the bone.”

“The tears are collecting along his eyelashes, their warm salt welling.”

The love story between Miller and Wallace is other worldly. The novel builds to violent tender love making that will leave you wrecked.

I was concerned during the first half of the book when the College detail relating to the research Wallace was performing seemed pointless. Even after finishing the novel I’m not sure why the author found it necessary to go into such minutia.

But the last half makes the reading trip beyond worthwhile.
( )
  GordonPrescottWiener | Aug 24, 2023 |
Viser 1-5 af 34 (næste | vis alle)
Real Life will undoubtedly unsettle some readers, but it will do the opposite for others, offering relief and validation at finally having their own experiences and truths recognized and reflected in a novel, and artfully so. Taylor’s language is breathtaking in its precision and poetry, and he has a real talent for writing beautifully about ugly, brutal things. The result is a book that can only be described as the perfect union of the two—brutiful—and should be considered essential reading for all.
tilføjet af karenb | RedigerBookPage, Stephenie Harrison (Feb 19, 2020)
 
Taylor’s book isn’t about overcoming trauma or the perils of academia or even just the experience of inhabiting a black body in a white space, even as Real Life does cover these subjects. Taylor is also tackling loneliness, desire and — more than anything — finding purpose, meaning and happiness in one’s own life. What makes it most special, though, is that Real Life is told from the perspective of Wallace, who, like so many other gay black men I know, understands how such a quest is further complicated by racism, poverty and homophobia. Such is often the case with publishing itself, an industry that is only now releasing works from queer black men. How fortunate we are for Real Life, another stunning contribution from a community long deserving of the chance to tell its stories.
tilføjet af karenb | RedigerTIME, Michael Arcenaux (Feb 18, 2020)
 
In Taylor’s stunning debut, “Real Life,” quiet diligence toward one’s goals mutates into a spiral that leaves the mind and body bruised as if survivors of a psychic war zone.
tilføjet af karenb | RedigerNew York Times, Jeremy O. Harris (Feb 18, 2020)
 

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Taylor, Brandonprimær forfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Free, Kevin R.Fortællermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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"A novel of rare emotional power that excavates the social intricacies of a late-summer weekend -- and a lifetime of buried pain. Almost everything about Wallace, an introverted African-American transplant from Alabama, is at odds with the lakeside Midwestern university town where he is working toward a biochem degree. For reasons of self-preservation, Wallace has enforced a wary distance even within his own circle of friends -- some dating each other, some dating women, some feigning straightness. But a series of confrontations with colleagues, and an unexpected encounter with a young straight man, conspire to fracture his defenses, while revealing hidden currents of resentment and desire that threaten the equilibrium of their community"--

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