This Classic Tale From The Author Of The Last Unicorn Is A Journey Between The Realms Of The Living And The Dead, And A Testament To The Eternal Power Of LoveMichael Morgan Was Not Ready To Die, But His Funeral Was Carried Out Just The Same Trapped In The Dark Limbo Between Life And Death As A Ghost, He Searches For An Escape Instead, He Discovers The Beautiful Lauraand A Love Stronger Than The Boundaries Of The Grave And The Spirit World


10 thoughts on “A Fine and Private Place

  1. says:

    Do you think that a review comes over better this way I have only done this once and am thinking of doing it again.https soundcloud.com mistralia utm_I love going into graveyards and churches I like looking at the tombstones and the inscriptions and try to imagine what that individual did in his her life I then always light a couple of candles in the church However, I certainly didn t think that I would thoroughly enjoy a story about a man called Mr Rebeck who lived in a large, sprawling cemetery for nearly twenty years.What I find remarkable about the author is that he was only nineteen when he started writing this book, and yet he has the maturity of a much older man.Briefly, Mr Rebeck has been living in a mausoleum in this large cemetery in the northern part of the Bronx He had been a New York druggist but he went bankrupt, took a job with a grocer as a clerk and then shortly after he got very drunk and he wandered in singing into the cemetery When he woke up in the morning the raven was there and he said that he would continue bringing food to Mr Rebeck for as long as he stayed.The first chapter in the book shows just how resourceful the raven is The baloney weighed the raven down, and the shopkeeper almost caught him as he whisked out the delicatessen door Frantically he beat his wings to gain altitude, looking like a small black electric fan An updraft caught him and threw him into the sky He circled twice, to get his bearings, and began to fly north And the raven also talks and has discussions with Mr Rebeck which I rather liked Imagine having a conversation with a ravenThe young couple Michael and Laura arrive in the cemetery and become romantically linked but I don t want to spoil this and so I ll leave this for the reader to find out It s rather interesting how they died and how this all adds to the charm and yet intrigue of the book.The best character for me though was Mrs Gertrude Klapper, a widow from the Bronx, who visits her husband Morris mausoleum, and befriends Mr Rebeck The Bronx wit on her part is a joy to read, the comings and goings with bodies and coffins, the philosophy of Mr Rebeck and the poignancy, brilliant storytelling and the question, what will happen in the end I just loved it


  2. says:

    Oh, this book is so wonderful I kind of hate Peter S Beagle for having written it when he was NINETEEN YEARS OLD Is that true Is it possible I was reading a library copy and it was almost strength than I possessed not to dog ear and underline the hell out of it, the writing is just so great There are so many places I wanted to mark and remember So I will be buying my own copy, and maybe some for gifts It s a book about a man who has lived for 19 years in a mausoleum of a huge cemetery, and how his relationship with a pair of new ghosts and with a living woman who visits her husband s grave changes him There s also a raven that I adore Love this The raven looked down at the lost feather I m a lousy lander, he said Never in my life have I made one decent landing Hummingbirds land well, Michael said Like helicopters Hummingbirds are great, the raven agreed You should have seen me when I found out I wasn t ever going to be a hummingbird I cried like a baby Hell of a thing to tell a kid ha ha Love it Read this book, but skip the library and go straight for your own copy so you can underline and dog ear to your heart s content


  3. says:

    Considering that Beagle was only nineteen years old when he wrote this book, as well as how powerfully it handles the themes of life and death, A Fine Private Place really is incredible in so many ways Predating other books about the afterlife such as The Lovely Bones or If I Stay, A Fine Private Place is a bit less contemporary, but it portrays ghosts as nothing to be scared of, something welcome in a world where ghosts are often used as evil props in horror novels Jonathan, a homeless man, befriends two ghosts but this trio of graveyard dwellers are each reaching for their own connections back to life in various ways Like in many of Beagle s other works, he portrays a strong element of friendship between the main characters and makes them each individual rather than a washed up trope A Fine Private Place is definitely one of my favourite novels of his alongside The Last Unicorn, especially for how well the scenery adds to the story s appeal.


  4. says:

    A lonely man lives in a New York cemetery is accompanied by two ghosts and a talking raven Along the way he learns about life and love The story is humorous and touching without being overly sentimental Peter Beagle s simple and straightforward prose makes the story quick and easy to read, yet unforgettable.


  5. says:

    A Fine and Private Place A gentle tale of love, death, and lost soulsOriginally posted at Fantasy LiteraturePeter S Beagle is a well known author of many fantasy novels, including the classic The Last Unicorn However, I don t often hear mention of his debut novel, A Fine and Private Place 1960 , written when he was only 19 years old Given his age it s a phenomenal achievement the prose is polished, filled with pathos and humor, and the characters relationships are deftly described And yet I couldn t get into the story at all, because there was almost no dramatic tension of any kind just two central romantic relations, one between two people lonely and disconnected in the living world, and one between two recently deceased spirits not ready to let go of life.The story bears remarkable similarities to Neil Gaiman s The Graveyard Book, which was almost certainly influenced by it A Fine and Private Place tells the tale of Jonathan Rebeck, a homeless man who has been living in a New York cemetery for the last 19 years in solitude He is fed regularly by a wise cracking talking raven reminiscent of Matthew the Raven, the faithful servant of Morpheus in Gaiman s SANDMAN series who steals sandwiches from local eateries The other special thing about Jonathan is that he can see and converse with the ghosts of the deceased In fact, he generally meets and orients them when they first arrive at the cemetery Beagle s conceit is that the dead neither go to heaven or hell, but rather linger initially without corporeal form, slowly forgetting what it was like to be alive, and eventually fading away It s almost like a second life, but inferior in all aspects to real life.When Jonathan meets the newly arrived Michael Morgan, a university teacher who may or may not have been poisoned by his beautiful wife, they strike up a friendship and spend many hours and pages discussing life, death, regrets, and relationships while playing chess Just when we think that Jonathan is just a foil for the dead, he encounters Mrs Clapper, a recent widow who has buried her husband in an elaborate mausoleum in the cemetery When she meets Jonathan by chance, he carefully conceals his identity, pretending he is visiting a deceased friend s grave Mrs Clapper was very attached to her husband in life, and his loss has cast her adrift, so that she goes through the motions of life without much purpose Jonathan is filled with both excitement at interacting with a living person, and fear that his secret will be exposed.Perhaps I am a bit jaded as a reader, but within the first few chapters of A Fine and Private Place I could see where the story was leading, particularly in terms of the relationships of the two couples, living and dead, the predictable revelations about their lives, and why they ended up in their circumstances I knew the story arcs final destinations, and was not surprised by anything in the story This led to a complete lack of dramatic tension or excitement, and since 90% of the story consisted of lengthy conversations among the four main characters, much like a Woody Allen movie I like those ironic conversations among New Yorkers as much as anyone, but it does get old if little else happens.Of greater interest were the overlaps with Gaiman s later The Graveyard Book, which borrows the central idea that the dead linger on in limbo, tied to where they were buried, and a central character who lives in the graveyard, shunning the living world and feeling comfortable with the dead However, that book which I loved was about a boy growing up in those circumstances, and as he grew older he had the natural urge to step outside his confines and make contact with the outside world, which is a perfect analogy for all of us who grew up timid and took time to build up the courage to step outside our shells and face life with all its ups and downs.However, I had trouble connecting with Jonathan in Beagle s story, as he steadfastly resists any invitations to venture outside, having been so traumatized by his experiences as a failed pharmacist Though events in the story finally force his hand, his adamant resistance to interact with other human beings got a bit tiresome I could understand this story being written by an older, world weary writer, so it was a big surprise to know how young Beagle was when he wrote it I think he managed to write convincingly about mature characters looking back at their failures in life, and the power of love to overcome barriers even including death, but it s still an unusual choice for a young writer s debut work.In any case, A Fine and Private Place is a well written story and the audiobook is narrated by the author himself, but nevertheless it failed to engage me It has been reprinted regularly for over 50 years and was chosen by David Pringle for his Modern Fantasy The 100 Best Novels, so clearly it struck a chord for many readers, but I was hoping for a eventful story.


  6. says:

    Jonathan Rebeck, a homeless man, lives in a New York cemetery His companions are a talking raven and two new ghosts While the ghosts explore the circumstances of their deaths and fall in love, Rebeck meets a widow named Mrs Klapper Will Rebeck s feelings for Klapper be enough for him to leave behind his cemetery home I bought this for a quarter at a book sale and the story was worth a thousand times that I was hooked from the moment the talking raven tried stealing the salami in the first chapter.Beagle crafted quite a tale While it s a fantasy story on the surface, it s really a story about relationships The relationships between the four main characters is what drives the story and sets it apart from other fantasy tales Rebeck s fear of the world outside the cemetery was a tangible thing and the revelation of how Michael Morgan really died was one of the powerful parts of the book I loved that there was no big bad menace other than the characters own personalities.I recommend A Fine and Private Place to fans of fantasy stories that are about people rather than quests.


  7. says:

    I really don t know what to say about A Fine and Private Place It s a sweet, touching ghost story about love, life, death and homelessness There s a man who s run away from live and spent 19 years living in a graveyard There s a widow who meets him while visiting her husband s grave There s a young man ghost who has allegedly been poisoned by his wife There s a beautiful young woman ghost who was hit by a truck Add a raven and a really bad night guard bad as in he doesn t guard well and you have the cast of characters for this charming piece A Fine and Private Place has a lot of promise and charm, but it doesn t live up to the promise I liked it a lot, but I didn t love it I don t regret the time I spent reading it, I m just glad I got it at the library.


  8. says:

    This should be a melancholy book with all the talk of death, wasted lives, and lost loves Yet Peter S Beagle can inject charm into a pickle and in doing so, lifts this tale into a amazing look at our attempts to find meaning and love Mr Rebeck wandered into a cemetery 20 years ago and now lives there avoiding the living and only finding company with the ghosts and a raven Michael and Laura has recently died but are struggling with both their deaths and their past livesand their feelings for each other There are some pretty heavy themes going on here but in Beagles hand they slide effortlessly through the pages and never fails to give me a feeling of awe over the beauty of his prose and passion of his ideas Have a handkerchief ready at the end of this one.


  9. says:

    Original review posted on The Book Smugglers HEREA few weeks ago, I read and reviewed Sleight of Hand, my first real introduction to Peter S Beagle s writing and I loved it so much I proceeded to add some of his other books to my TBR pile The Last Unicorn because everybody seems to love it and A Fine and Private Place which came highly recommended by The Other Ana www.thingsmeanalot.com I decided to start in chronological order A Fine and Private Place was Mr Beagle s first book, published back in 1960 and written when he was merely 19 years old.Well, you can colour me dumbfounded this was his first book Written when he was NINETEEN It is almost unbelievable but there you have it talent Mr Beagle has it in spades.Jonathan Rebeck has been living in an abandoned mausoleum within Bronx s Yorkchester Cemetery and for the past 19 years hasn t crossed its gates There, he has everything he needs He bathes in the public restrooms, drinks from the public water fountain, gets his food delivered by a talking, friendly raven because ravens bring things to people that s what they do and generally spends his days in quiet, solitary contemplation Sometimes though, he gets the fleeting company of the recently dead before they move on to wherever they must go As they all do eventually because the dead forget about living and eventually fade away.Michael Morgan is newly dead, certain he was killed by his wife and determined to stay put and not let go of life but just like any other ghost, soon enough he starts forgetting On the other side of the spectrum, the idea of fading away suits Laura Durand, another recent arrival, well enough Ironically, she can t really rest and finds herself feeling alive than ever The two strike up a friendship just as Mr Rebeck starts to enjoy the company of a living person for the first time in 19 years by befriending Gertrude Klapperm, widow of another of the cemetery s residents.A Fine and Private Place is a wonderful novel of magic realism and it revolves around the aforementioned four people and the one raven Very, very little happens in terms of plot which is really, a funny thing to say, because the main theme of the novel death vs life is so momentous and there is a such a gravitas around its characters and the conversations they have with each other that it almost makes me uncomfortable to be so crass as to say that there is hardly any action within these covers.But there isn t Not in the strict sense of the word although there is some movement towards say, the future, in the ending This is a very introspective story and the characters spend their time talking or thinking about life and death Not that it is a heavy, depressing piece of writing Quite the contrary, there is beauty and melancholy and delicate consideration about people s lives and even laugh out loud funny moments, courtesy of the raven The story is mostly confined to the cemetery this fine and private place though, as three of its main characters are unable to leave it the ghosts because they physically can t and Mr Rebeck because he won t allow himself to.The significance of the latter is obvious who is really living, who is really dead The ghosts fight to live, to grasp one last moment before they forget everything Rebeck is worst than a ghost, with his self imposed imprisonment, even though he lives in perpetual self denial believing that he is free from societal norms and is actually providing a service to the dead with his companionship.Beyond that, there is the examination of the afterlife and what it entails in this world, there is no hell or heaven There is only memory and forgetfulness and the ghosts inhabit that place in between It doesn t mean that things are black or white Quite the contrary, if there is anything to be said about this novel is how even as the characters philosophise to their heart s desires, the answers are fuzzy or non existent Take memory itself Its power is so tremendous that it can ground ghosts and make them alive It can do the same to the living and imprison them to the past At one point in the novel it is said that despite popular belief, it is the living that haunt the dead.Or how about love Does love last forever Must it When two of the characters fall in love, is it really love what they feel Or is it a last attempt to remain alive Does it matter I guess it is up to the reader to answer that one.A Fine and Private Place is a beautifully written novel, the sort of book that needs to be enjoyed and savoured slowly I loved it it is truly incredible, lovely and really romantic too.


  10. says:

    Book 2 of the Great Beagle Reread.Disclaimer This is going to be an un apologetically emotional review, because I do not have thoughts about this book, only feelings.This is Beagle s first published work, it came out when he was 19, which is utterly depressing Reading this is a bit like watching a toddler pick up a violin and play Mozart.I wasn t even 19 when I first read it, and it floored me Now, rather years later than I d like to admit, it has exactly the same effect You d think some sort of wisdom acquired in the intervening years would have diluted the power of this book over me but, if anything, it cuts deeper This is the least subtle of his works it is so densely packed with insights and philosophy that it s a bit like drowning I found there were chapters I couldn t get through in one sitting, I had to keep coming up for air, going away and writing some of my own thoughts, then coming back, suitably armed, for the next barrage He writes like someone who knows they are dying, who must get out every important thought and realisation they ve ever had in one go, before their time is up That would be a criticism, if it weren t for the sheer quality and depth of those insights I was surprised to find I had forgotten entirely about Mrs Klapper Perhaps it is because she was the only character I couldn t relate to I like her well enough, but the one chapter from her point of view just seems so empty by comparison I think not getting Mrs Klapper says about me than the book.So what is this about I could not presume to tell you, but for me, this book is about life and death as a choice, and not something that happens to you It is about people who are alive, but not living, and people who are dead but alive than the rest of us ugh, how clunky that sounds after reading such beautiful prose I could quote from any page of this book, it is a book of quotes really, loosely strung together with moments of humour and sadness, but for me the summary is this and it s near the end of the book, so maybe don t read it if you re planning to read the whole thing We are all ghosts We are conceived in a moment of death and born out of ghost wombs, and we play in the streets with other little ghosts, chanting ghost rhymes and scratching to become real We are told that life is full of goals and that, although it is sadly necessary to fight, you can at least choose the war But we learn that for ghosts there can only be one battle to become real A few of us make it, thus encouraging other ghosts to believe it can be done.See, it is not subtle, and that is what I love about this book In his later works Beagle wraps his thoughts in gentle layers of poetry and myth and symbolism, either to protect us or out of humility, I m not sure, but in this he is fearless, he holds nothing back.Beagle is the ghost who makes me believe it can be done.