Starting Out in the Evening

Starting Out in the Evening Leonard Schiller is a novelist in his seventies a second string but respectable talent who produced only a small handful of books Heather Wolfe is an attractive graduate student in her twenties She r

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  • Title: Starting Out in the Evening
  • Author: Brian Morton
  • ISBN: 9780156033411
  • Page: 219
  • Format: Paperback
  • Leonard Schiller is a novelist in his seventies, a second string but respectable talent who produced only a small handful of books Heather Wolfe is an attractive graduate student in her twenties She read Schiller s novels when she was growing up and they changed her life When the ambitious Heather decides to write her master s thesis about Schiller s work and sets out tLeonard Schiller is a novelist in his seventies, a second string but respectable talent who produced only a small handful of books Heather Wolfe is an attractive graduate student in her twenties She read Schiller s novels when she was growing up and they changed her life When the ambitious Heather decides to write her master s thesis about Schiller s work and sets out to meet him convinced she can bring Schiller back into the literary world s spotlight the unexpected consequences of their meeting alter everything in Schiller s ordered life What follows is a quasi romantic friendship and intellectual engagement that investigates the meaning of art, fame, and personal connection Nothing less than a triumph The New York Times Book Review , Starting Out in the Evening is Brian Morton s most widely acclaimed novel to date.

    One thought on “Starting Out in the Evening”

    1. I enjoyed Morton's most recent book Florence Gordon more than this. When I think of that book, I picture it in color, and this one I think about in black and white. That's the best way I can describe it. I found the people in this book less likeable; many of them being the kind of nakedly ambitious literary people I can't stand (full disclosure: I once one of these people, albeit not as talented :)).To continue the comparison of these booksperficially, Leonard Schiller is similar to Florence Gor [...]

    2. This thoughtful and intelligent novel presents us with three individuals at different points in their lives: the first, Leonard Schiller, a 71-year-old author who, after two heart operations, knows he is close to death but is still determined to finish his last novel, even as his four previous works have gone out of print; the second, his 39-year-old daughter, Ariel, a dancer who has become an exercise instructor and is hoping to find fulfillment in becoming a parent finally; the third, Heather [...]

    3. 3 Stars, but just barelyThis is a hard book to rate. There were several times when I just wanted to abandon it but then it just didn't quite put me off too much. But at other times I just felt very turned off as with one statement, "When he stood, he looked at his gray, fat penis, a smoked out stub of an antique cigar." Now why do I need to know that? I suppose if I were a man I would understand a little bit more of this fascination with a certain anatomical part but I'm not a man, I'm a woman. [...]

    4. Like the last Brian Morton book, Florence Gordon, that I read, this one takes place in my Upper Westside of Manhattan neighborhood, but even more personally, it inhabits the neighborhood of anybody who is aging—stunned by how fast time has gone, the changes to their body, the shift in their taste, and plagued by the question, "if what you offer the world isn’t needed, then why continue to bring it your offerings?" Since I'm a writer, and the story exposes a real writer's real mundane life, I [...]

    5. As a writer, Morton has a lot of good and useful things to say about the "craft" of writing, so called, particularly where he characterizes it less as the glamorous or noble calling that it is made out to be and more as the bizarre compulsion it actually is.As a writer, he has a certain amount in common with the protaganist of this book, Leonard Schiller. Where Schiller is tiring and pedantic, so is Morton. Often the narrative seems to lurch forward rather than flow, braked repeatedly by sentenc [...]

    6. Brian Morton's book is a gem. The characters, though flawed, are well drawn. (Ariel was the exception. She seemed a bit of a loopy stereotype.) Most of the action of this book takes place on the human interior, a place Morton has clearly explored, since the reflections are dead-on. He raises questions about art and life and what gives meaning to both. And he offers an array of answers, always with compassion. Morton's writing never gets in the way of his ideas, but it can be memorable, too. Ther [...]

    7. Almost pitch perfect. A fine, well-balanced portrait of an aging writer, his daughter, friends, and a young brash woman who has been influenced by his work and wants to write her thesis on him. I read it for pacing, and for character development. The male characters, especially the writer, Leonard, are fully developed. I felt that the two main women, the daughter Ariel and the student Heather, were not as clear, perhaps because as a reader I never inhabited their physical bodies the way I did wi [...]

    8. I watched the film adaption before reading the book. The film, though rather well made, does not give enough clues over Heather's motives for seducing Leonard so aggressively, whether she does desire him, or simply just tries to build his trust in her since she strikes me as a manipulator from the start. My own interpretation is that she does desire her imaginary version of him, the body of a virile intense man who views freedom as a choice one has to make no matter who pay the price for it. The [...]

    9. I love a good character-driven novel and Morton's recently-released Florence Gordon is among the best I've read. After finishing that unexpected gem (a 5-star read and favorite of 2014) I dove straight into his backlist, selecting this 1998 title because it was on my library's shelf. Once again I found an introspective, intelligent novel, a slow unfolding of characters, and beautiful writing.

    10. When there is a mismatch between a persons idealized version and reality, what does one do? Heather is a young woman who wants to write her graduate thesis on an author who has profoundly influence her life. For Heather, she was anxious in meeting her favorite author because she knew that her idolized expectation rarely meets the reality of the man. For Heather, fear of any undertaking means she should undertake it. For someone who persists despite fear of the unknown, means curiousity is what d [...]

    11. Added 4/13/2009_Starting Out In the Evening_ by Brian Morton (first published 1997) NOTE (9/2/11): The GR Constant Reader Group has invited the author of this book, Brian Morton, to have dinner with the CR group at their October-2011 Convention in NYC. See the following thread:/topic/show/5According to a post at the group, the date and place are:Sunday, 10/16/11, dinner with Brian Morton: Rosa Mexicano at Lincoln Center (6:30-9 PM)For confirmation, see the following thread which has the tentativ [...]

    12. The nutshell: An enthusiastic grad student (Heather) chooses to write her thesis on an aging author (Schiller) whose books have gone largely unrecognized. They strike up a tenuous and tender sort of friendship, at times almost romantic and at others far from it. Schiller's daughter, Ariel, is a focal point as well, with her childlike relationship with her father and her efforts to balance finding a partner she can potentially tolerate long-term with her desperate desire to have a child before sh [...]

    13. A touching story of an aging author (Leonard Schiller) and the young graduate student, Heather Wolfe, who chooses to write her thesis about Schiller's works. Heather is drawn to Schiller based on her association with the characters and themes of his first two books; however, as their relationship develops, Heather is perplexed by how seeminlgy different Leonard's ordinary life is from his characters. As the story develops, Leonard is faced with feelings of infatuation with a much younger woman w [...]

    14. This was one of those novels that I appreciated more than enjoyed, one that left me with decidedly mixed feelings about the characters. It took me a long while to warm up to any of them, though by the conclusion I was more sympathetic to at least two out of the three protagonists. For these two, serious challenges brought out hidden strengths, while the third continued throughout to bask in her own ego. On the whole, though, not so enjoyable.At the same time, I feel Morton may well have been dis [...]

    15. I read Brian Morton’s novel, Florence Gordon, and enjoyed it so much I went in search of another. Morton writes compelling prose and he is a master of character development. Starting Out in the Evening focuses on three characters at pivotal points in their lives: seventy-one year-old Leonard Schiller—a widowed writer who is overweight and suffering from a heart condition, his thirty-nine year-old daughter, Ariel—a dancer with a free spirit, and Heather Wolfe—a 24-year-old graduate studen [...]

    16. Read the book! See the movie!Brian was my don at Sarah Lawrence, and this is quite possibly his best book. (It's between this and "Breakable You", his latest, IMHO.) I would think this novel was amazing even if I didn't know him. This is my third time reading it. At 16 (when it was first published and I first read it), I didn't like it. I thought the characters were weird and crazy. At 19, when I reread it, I was floored, much better understanding the central relationship of admiring young write [...]

    17. Not sure why this book spoke to me so much. Maybe because the main character is 71-years old, and I'm about to turn 70. At any rate, this isn't a plot-driven book. of an exploration the internal musings of a man with work still to do at the end of his life, his reflections on his very happy marriage to a wife who died some years before, and his loving relationship with his somewhat eccentric 39-year-old daughter. Add to this a rather brash young student doing a master's thesis on the author's wo [...]

    18. I first saw the movie and from the story knew I had to read the book. I was taken in when Schiller visits his friend Levin in hospital where they discuss authors such as Henry James, Saul Bellows I was hooked. Brian Morton wrote so poignantly of Schiller's relationships, the friendships he had with his (mainly) dying friends, his daughter and, of course, Heather, the young woman who has come, in a sense, to save him. Ah, the circle of life; the energy and vitality of the young, the mid-life and [...]

    19. This novel is absolutely beautiful. The interplay among novelist Leonard Schiller, his daughter, and his admirer, Heather rings so true. What really got me though, was his reflections on what it means to be a writer for his entire life, the rewards and the sacrifices. I'm now anxious to see the film, with Frank Langella and Lili Taylor. It's interesting that my to-read list, which dates back as far as 1998, is being beat out by screen versions of these 10-year old books (e.g. About a Boy, The Co [...]

    20. Given the amount of time I spent complaining about this book to anyone that would listen, anything greater than one star would be too generous.

    21. There is more understanding of our inner lives on one page of this book than in the length of most books. It's a mix of minutia and the largest philosophical questions. Isn't that life? This a novel with short chapters and simple clear prose. I just moved through it with pleasure. There are three major characters: the aging novelist whose books are out of print, his child-like but very sweet daughter, and the graduate student who is writing a master's thesis on his works. She asks for a meeting, [...]

    22. After seeing the movie--which was beautiful but watching it totally ruined the story for me--I was itching to get my hands on the book! I kid you not when I say I didn't want to put this one down! I read rather slow, so it took me like a week and a half to get through it, but that's the point; usually books take me weeks and even months to get through, either because I lose interest or I'm just too tired; with Starting Out in the Evening--not so. With the nature of the story being what it is, I [...]

    23. Why is it that lovers of fine literature seem to be as fascinated with the authors of that literature as they are with the authors’ works themselves? I think of how enthralled I and many other people have been with the details of the lives of Hemingway, Fiztgerald, Henry James, George Sand and numerous others. Starting Out in the Evening is a novel, i.e. a fictional story that follows the twilight years of a fictionalnovelist, Leonard Schiller, a New York Jewish intellectual of the 1960s and 1 [...]

    24. I love the way Morton takes one scene and writes so richly about it. The way he moves back and forth smoothly between the present and the past, in one scene he explains a current situation and then we go on a 10 pages trip into the character's past, thoughts, emotions and feelings and then we are back again in the present without being exhausted or tired because he does that with extreme delicacy and brings the picture so close and real. In this novel, he writes about emotions and situations tha [...]

    25. I found this title in some list of overlooked but recommended books, and having loved Florence Gordon, gave it a try. This is a thoughtful and lovely look at life at different ages, about finding purpose and reason and yes, love. Also Morton has a great ability to help the reader inhabit the physical world of his characters, an almost visual sense of their milieu. There are small sections of the book that feel a little pretentious at the beginning--especially describing the young grad student. D [...]

    26. A book that delves into the meaning of life (don’t they all?). But this one interrupts the narrative every so often to have the three main characters contemplate where they’ve been and where they’re going. The three are in the arts, one a novelist, one a dancer and the youngest finishing her thesis in English with no clear picture of what she would do with it. I can relate to that. The book ultimately makes a case for carpe diem whatever you do. But the case is not convincing because there [...]

    27. I really disliked this book. If I was a person who could stop reading books once I had started them, I would have.

    28. A novel about an author, a young student writing her thesis about him, and his relationship with his daughter

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