Edmund White
Forgetting Elena
The Joy of Gay Sex
Nocturnes for the King of Naples
States of Desire: Travels in Gay America
A Boy's Own Story
The Beautiful Room is Empty
Caracole
The Darker Proof: Stories from a Crisis
The Faber Book of Gay Short Fiction
Genet: A Biography
The Burning Library
Our Paris: Sketches from Memory
Skinned Alive
The Farewell Symphony
Marcel Proust
The Married Man
Loss Within Loss: Artists in the Age of AIDS
The Flâneur
Fanny, A Fiction
Arts and Letters
My Lives: An Autobiography
Terra Haute
Chaos
Hotel de Dream
Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel
City Boy
Sacred Monsters
Jack Holmes & His Friend
Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris

 

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City Boy (2009)

Novelist and critic White (A Boy’s Own Story; The Joy of Gay Sex) weaves erotic encounters and long-ago literati into a vast tapestry of Manhattan memories. He arrived from the Midwest in 1962, worked at Time-Life Books, haunted the Gotham Book Mart and went street cruising: “We had to seek out most of our men on the hoof.” In 1970, he quit his job to live in Rome, returning to find “sexual abundance” in New York. An editor with Saturday Review and Horizon, White knew artists, writers and poets, yet his own writing remained at the starting gate. He fictionalized Fire Island rituals for his first novel, Forgetting Elena (1971), which took years to find a publisher and then sold only 600 copies. Nabokov later labeled it “a marvelous book,” ranking White along with Updike and Robbe- Grillet. His second novel, about hetero/ homosexual friendships, was never published, yet he “longed for literary celebrity.” How he overcame setbacks and confronted his insecurities to eventually write 23 books makes for fascinating reading. Along the way, he notes how Fun City became Fear  City with the AIDS crisis, and he recalls meeting everyone from Borges, Burroughs and Capote to Peggy Guggenheim, John Ashbery, Susan Sontag, Robert Mapplethorpe and Jasper Johns. White writes with a simple, fluid style, and beneath his patina of pain, a refreshing honesty emerges. This is a brilliant recreation of an era, rich in revels, revolutions and “leather boys leading the human tidal wave."

Sara Mercurio

An excerpt from City Boy.

 

 

 

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