Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press

A Singular Man

by J.P. Donleavy

“A rollicking, rambunctious novel . . . sheer pleasure to read . . . shatteringly funny.” —The New York Times Book Review

  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 416
  • Publication Date March 31, 1989
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8711-3265-9
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $18.00

About The Book

What will happen to George Smith? Mysteriously rich and desperately lonely, George appears to be under attack from all quarters: his former wife and four horrible children are suing to get his money; his dipsomaniacal housekeeper is trying to arouse his carnal interest; his secretary, the beautiful, blond Miss Thomson, will barely give him the time of day. Making matters even worse are the threatening letters: “Dear Sir: Only for the moment are we saying nothing.” Yours, etc., Present Associates.

Despite such precautions as a two-inch-thick surgical steel door and a bullet-proof limousine, Smith remains worried. So he undertakes to build a giant mausoleum, complete with plumbing, in which to live. Hunter S. Thompson called reading this book “like sitting down to an evening of good whisky and mad laughter in a rare conversation somewhere on the edge of reality.”

Tags Literary


“A comic writer rivaling Waugh and Wodehouse.” —Life

“Excruciatingly funny.” A singular and original novel.” —Newsweek

“A rollicking, rambunctious novel . . . sheer pleasure to read . . . shatteringly funny.” —The New York Times Book Review

“A wild romp, a funny, funny book . . . an important, first-rate novel by a gifted artist.” —Chicago Tribune

“Rich evidence of Donleavy’s continuing sureness of eye and ear.” —The Sunday Times (London)

“Donleavy has proved that he can be wildly funny about serious matters.” —The Village Voice

“Lushly loony . . . Smith is such a man as Manhattan’s subway millions have dreamed of being.” —Time


My name is George Smith. I get up on the right side of the bed every morning because I pushed the left to the wall. I’m in business. I sleep naked between the sheets. And these days always alone unless for accidental encounters.

Barefoot in the bathroom. Standing on the warm tiles where I had the management hire an artist to make a mosaic of a turkey cock with its feathers out. Trampling this in the early morning has always made me feel un-sneaky. I shave shower and dress. Use talc on my private particulars, not wanting to get it into my lungs. Where it gives a funny taste to the first morning smoke.

Matilda brings breakfast. Waddling in bubbling with her hefty good natured muscle. I hired her on the street when I dropped a paper bag with two bulbs of garlic. She came after me with it, refused reward and I asked her would she take a job. She ladles out the scrambled egg.

Looking the mail over. Shivering somewhat. This month of sleet with icicles hanging from the window sills.

Take the skewer to the envelope and nip the silver point under the flap, dig through the fold and slice.


George Smith Esq.
Flat 14
Merry Mansions
2 Eagle Street

Dear Sir,
Only for the moment are we saying nothing.

Lingering over coffee to think. Ha ha. Detach this first tremor of amusing fear. Only shot through rapier like the alimentary tube, merely lurking where Smith hopes things come out all right in the end. Do not relish being accosted with knowing the year. Nine fifteen this Friday morning on the east side of town.