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

 

States of Desire:
Travels in Gay America
(1980)

In this city-by-city description of the way homosexual men lived in the late seventies, Edmund White gives us a picture of Gay America that will surprise gay and straight readers alike. With great wit and humor, the co-author of The Joy of Gay Sex tells what goes on behind the glittering surface of fashionable nightspots and glamorous resorts. But he also shows us gay engineers, gay computer experts, and gay cowboys; this is a look at a vast world never before documented. By introducing us to a wide variety of gay people, White gives us remarkable new insights into what it means to be gay in America.

In States of Desire, you will meet a gay timber baron from Portland and a "big-wig" (literally as well as figuratively) in the Florida drag world. Here are: handsome lifeguards in Chicago—those "bronzed demigods . . . who lord it above us on their white wood towers"; a Hollywood host who has just spent "a typical L.A. day, driving 150 miles assembling the twelve ingredients for supper"; a San Franciscan who embraces his friends "with long, therapeutic hugs, silently searching their faces for the weather report of their subtlest, innermost feelings"; and Boston gay radicals, who defend some of the most controversial positions that concern society today. You will hear the stories of gay Cubans in Miami, a gay lobbyist in Washington, D.C., and even a self-appointed gay Mormon prophet in Salt Lake City—all narrated with a novelist's fine ear for nuance.

Into this vivid tapestry of people and places the author weaves the pros and cons of such issues as gay radicalism, the "urban gay renaissance" and the much discussed gay penchant for hedonism and sexual extremism. Above all, White shows the remarkable possibilities for gay life today—from the black gay ghettos of Atlanta to communes in New England; from "friendship networks" in New York City to New Orleans-style "uptown marriages" (in which men live with wife and children uptown and keep a boy in the Quarter); from Kansas City, where the self-oppression of 1950s gay life still reigns supreme, to Fire Island's unrivaled "spectacle of gay affluence and gay-male beauty." For this eye-opening book makes clear that gay life is every bit as rich and varied as the many gay lives the author so effectively describes.

 

 

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