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Plays Well With Others
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Jump down to see edition details for: Hardcover | Paperback | Miscellaneous | Cassette/Spoken Word
Bibliographic Detail
Publisher Alfred a Knopf Inc
Publication date November 1, 1997
Pages 337
Binding Hardcover
Book category Adult Fiction
ISBN-13 9780394589145
ISBN-10 0394589149
Dimensions 1.50 by 6.50 by 10 in.
Weight 1.70 lbs.
Availability§ Out of Print
Original list price $25.00
§As reported by publisher
Amazon.com says people who bought this book also bought:
White People | Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All | Local Souls | The Practical Heart
Summaries and Reviews
Summary
In 1980, a young Southern aristocrat arrives in New York to pursue his artistic ambitions, falling in love with both a gifted male composer and a failed debutante turned painter, until their brilliant circle of gifted and artistic friends falls prey to the ravages of AIDS. 100,000 first printing. Tour. (view table of contents)
Amazon.com description: Product Description: In his widely read, prizewinning Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, Allan Gurganus gave fresh meaning to an overexplored American moment: 1860-65. He now turns that comic intensity and historical vision to another war zone: entry-level artistic Manhattan 1980-95. In his first novel since Widow, Gurganus offers us an indelible, addictive praise-song to New York's wild recent days, their invigorating peaks and lethal crashes.

It's 1980, and Hartley Mims jr., a somewhat overbred Southerner, arrives in town to found his artistic career and find a Circle of brilliant friends. He soon discovers both Robert Christian Gustafson, archangelic boy composer of Symphony no. 1: The Titanic, and Alabama Byrnes, a failed Savannah debutante whose gigantic paintings reveal an outsized talent that she, five feet tall, can't always live up to.

This circle--sexually venturesome, frequently hungry, hooked on courage, caffeine, and the promise of immortality--makes history and most everybody else. Their dramatic moment in New York history might've been a collaboration begun, as a toast, by Cole Porter and finished, as pure elegy, by Poe himself. Plays Well with Others is a fairy tale. It has a Legend's indoctrinating charm and hidden terrors. It chronicles a ragtag group of gifted kids who come to seek their fortunes; they find the low-paying joys of making art and the heady education only multiple erotic partners can provide. Having mythologized each other through the boom years, having commenced becoming "names," they suddenly encounter a brand-new disease like something out of fifth-rate sci-fi. Friends are soon questioning how much they really owe each other; they're left with the ancient consolation of one another's company and help. We watch this egotistic circle forge its single greatest masterwork: a healthy community.

The novel, a sort of disco requiem-mass, divides itself into three symphonic movements: "Before," "After," and "After After." The work concludes in a homemade paradise that resembles Hartley Mims's own starter vision of all that seemed waiting--latent and convivial--in New York itself.

This is a work that could've only been written now, in our age of medical advances, written about these unsuspecting unsung heroes of a medieval scourge's first endgame moves among us. Plays Well with Others becomes a hymn to the joys and woes of caretaking (for waning parents and young friends). Allan Gurganus has created a deeply engaging narrative about flawed, well-meaning people who seem lifted from our own address books. His book offers an obsessive love story, a complex vision of our recent past, and an emotional firestorm--a pandemic's long-awaited great novel.

Editions
Hardcover
Book cover for 9780394589145
 
The price comparison is for this edition
from Alfred a Knopf Inc (November 1, 1997)
9780394589145 | details & prices | 337 pages | 6.50 × 10.00 × 1.50 in. | 1.70 lbs | List price $25.00
About: In 1980, a young Southern aristocrat arrives in New York to pursue his artistic ambitions, falling in love with both a gifted male composer and a failed debutante turned painter, until their brilliant circle of gifted and artistic friends falls prey to the ravages of AIDS
Paperback
Book cover for 9780375702037
 
Reprint edition from Vintage Books (February 1, 1999)
9780375702037 | details & prices | 337 pages | 5.25 × 8.25 × 1.00 in. | 0.70 lbs | List price $14.95
About: In 1980, a young Southern aristocrat arrives in New York to pursue his artistic ambitions, falling in love with both a gifted male composer and a failed debutante turned painter, until their brilliant circle of gifted and artistic friends falls prey to the ravages of AIDS
Miscellaneous
from Vintage Books (January 12, 2011)
9780307764133 | details & prices | 368 pages | List price $14.95
Cassette/Spoken Word
Book cover for 9780679460558
 
Abridged edition from Random House (November 1, 1997)
9780679460558 | details & prices | 4.25 × 7.25 × 0.75 in. | 0.35 lbs | List price $18.00
About: In 1980, a young Southern aristocrat arrives in New York to pursue his artistic ambitions, falling in love with both a gifted male composer and a failed debutante turned painter, and in time their brilliant circle of gifted and artistic friends falls prey to the ravages of AIDS.

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