A Novel

Book - 2003 | 1st ed.
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From the acclaimed author of This Side of Brightness , the epic life and times of Rudolf Nureyev, reimagined in a dazzlingly inventive masterpiece-published to coincide with the tenth anniversary of Nureyev's death
A Russian peasant who became an international legend, a Cold War exile who inspired millions, an artist whose name stood for genius, sex, and excess-the magnificence of Rudolf Nureyev's life and work are known, but now Colum McCann, in his most daring novel yet, reinvents this erotically charged figure through the light he cast on those who knew him.
Taking his inspiration from the biographical facts, McCann tells the story through a chorus of voices: there is Anna Vasileva, Rudi's first ballet teacher, who rescues her protégé from the stunted life of his town; Yulia, whose sexual and artistic ambitions are thwarted by her Soviet-sanctioned marriage; and Victor, the Venezuelan hustler, who reveals the lurid underside of the gay celebrity set. Spanning four decades and many worlds, from the horrors of Stalingrad to the wild abandon of New York in the eighties, Dancer is peopled by a large cast of characters, obscure and famous: doormen and shoemakers, Margot Fonteyn and John Lennon. And at the heart of the spectacle stands the artist himself, willful, lustful, and driven by a never-to-be-met need for perfection.
In ecstatic prose, McCann evokes the distinct consciousness of the man and the glittering reflection of the myth. The result is a monumental story of love, art, and exile.
Publisher: New York : Metropolitan Books, 2003.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780805067927
Branch Call Number: FIC MCCANN, C.
Characteristics: 336 p. ; 25 cm.


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Sep 05, 2019

I could not put this book down. I loved the way the book was moving it's point of view from each of the rich characters points of view, each in a different voice. So well written!

WVMLStaffPicks Jan 18, 2015

Rudolf Nureyev comes to life in McCann’s “bravo” fictional depiction of the great dancer’s life. The poverty of Nureyev’s early years in a bleak Russian village is the backdrop to his intense desire to twirl and tap and fling himself across the floor, leading to his eventual defection to Paris and betrayal of his family. McCann tells his tale through interwoven voices and we discover Nureyev from many angles and aspects; the larger-than-life dancer, the hedonistic seeker of wealth and pleasure, and the loving son whose deepest sadness was to leave his mother behind when he fled Russia. We meet Margot Fonteyn, his greatest dance partner; Erik Bruhn, his lover who was also a lead dancer; and numerous others, such as Andy Warhol, the Kennedys, Truman Capote, and Jimi Hendrix who all peopled Nureyev’s extravagant and successful career.


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