BookBrowse Reviews A Changed Man by Francine Prose

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A Changed Man

by Francine Prose

A Changed Man by Francine Prose
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2005, 421 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2006, 448 pages

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'An edgy, riveting tale, one of Prose's most interesting.' Novel

From the book jacket: On an unseasonably warm spring afternoon, a young neo-Nazi named Vincent Nolan walks into the Manhattan office of World Brotherhood Watch, a human rights foundation headed by a charismatic Holocaust survivor, Meyer Maslow. Vincent announces that he wants to make a radical change in his life. But what is Maslow to make of this rough-looking stranger who claims to have read Maslow's books, who has Waffen-SS tattoos under his shirtsleeves, and who says that his mission is to save guys like him from becoming guys like him?

A Changed Man
illuminates the everyday transactions in our lives, exposing what remains invisible in plain sight in our drug-addled and media-driven culture and poses the essential questions: What constitutes a life worth living? Is it possible to change? What does it mean to be a moral human being?

Comment: Undoubtedly A Changed Man is very readable but I'm not convinced that it achieves either the ironic heights that I think Francine Prose was aiming for, or the dramatic confrontation between opposing philosophies, which one might expect to find considering the subject matter. The reason for this is that, in essence, Vincent is not a changed man, because he never really believed in anything in the first place. If you think you'd enjoy a 'comedy of manners' which fairly gently skewers the middle-classes then this might be one for you; but if you're anticipating a book that digs deep you might be disappointed.

"Her lively skewering of a whole cross-section of society ensures that this tale hits comic high notes even as it probes serious issues." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Bonnie is well portrayed and lifelike, but Vincent is not--he's more a construct than a character." - Library Journal

"Like novelist Richard Russo, Prose uses humor to light up key social issues, to skewer smugness, and to create characters whose flaws only add to their depth and richness. This may well be Prose's best novel to date." Booklist (starred review).

This review was originally published in March 2005, and has been updated for the February 2006 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



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