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1. City Boy: My Life in New York
2. My Lives: An Autobiography
3. The Farewell Symphony
4. Edmund and the White Witch (Narnia)
5. Hotel de Dream: A New York Novel
6. The Beautiful Room Is Empty: A
7. Terre Haute
8. The Married Man: A Novel
9. Arts and Letters
10. A Boy's Own Story: A Novel
11. My Lives: A Memoir (P.S.)
12. Genet: A Biography
13. Our Paris: Sketches from Memory
14. Caracole
15. Skinned Alive: Stories
16. Rimbaud: The Double Life of a
17. Marcel Proust: A Life (Penguin
18. The Flaneur: A Stroll Through
19. Marcel Proust (P)
20. The Burning Library: Essays

1. City Boy: My Life in New York During the 1960s and '70s
by Edmund White
Paperback: 304 Pages (2010-09-28)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$8.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1608192342
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

Groundbreaking literary icon Edmund White reflects on his remarkable life in New York in an era when the city was economically devastated but incandescent with art and ideas. White struggles to gain literary recognition, witnesses the rise of the gay rights movement, and has memorable encounters with luminaries from Elizabeth Bishop to William Burroughs, Susan Sontag to Jasper Johns. Recording his ambitions and desires, recalling lovers and literary heroes, White displays the wit, candor, and generosity that have defined his unique voice over the decades.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (31)

5-0 out of 5 stars very insightful
I needed to do research on gay life in the 60s and this book was very informative from the author's personal perspective.It was also a good read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Naughty and nice in New York
Although I haven't read much of White's fiction, I've appreciated and enjoyed his nonfiction work, especially things he's written about France and French writers: Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel, The Flaneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris, and Genet: A Biography (which I never finished, but plan to do so now).

CITY BOY is a frank, breezy, and not very linear memoir about White's life in New York during the late 60s through the advent of AIDS in the early 80s. This was the era of women's and gay liberation, a time when New York was still affordable and thus a magnet to young people with literary and artistic aspirations, or who just wanted to escape the moral constrictions and scrutiny of their (usually midwestern or southern) hometowns. Without overstating his importance in the New York literary world, White tells of his stuggles to get published and to earn a living as a writer. In New York this necessarily involves getting a little help from friends and frenemies, of which White had many. These included Robert Mapplethorpe, Susan Sontag, David Kalstone and many others. Some readers may crave juicier send-ups of these self-important celebrities, but I felt White's portraits were fair and balanced. I also enjoyed White's reflections on the craft of writing fiction and on how his willingness to be labeled a "gay writer" both helped and hindered his career. The book has many bitter-sweet touches of nostalgia (I especially liked his description of escaping to the Gotham Bookmark--now gone--during his lunch breaks while working for Time-Life) and is not without its moments of melancholy (many of his friends would succumb to AIDS and White lives without survivor's guilt, he speculates, only because of his own HIV positive status).

Readers who liked Christopher Bram's nonfiction pieces collected in Mapping the Territory: Selected Nonfiction, which cover the same era in New York, will likely enjoy CITY BOY.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Commentary on aPeriod Becomes a Novel
For openers to readers who opt to add another bookby Edmund White to their library comes this quotation from John Irving: 'Edmund White, a master of the erotic confession, is our most accomplished triathlete of prose - a novelist, biographer, and memoirist.Truly, no other American writer of my generation manages to be all three with such personal passion and veracity.'Strong praise from one of the country's finest writers, but in this reader's opinion, well earned. CITY BOYcontains every aspect of what we have grown to expect - and yet be consistently surprised at his constancy - from White.His novels - 'A Boy's Own Story', 'The Farewell Symphony', 'The Beautiful Room is Empty', 'The Married Man', 'Hotel de Dream' etc - his well researched, highly regarded biographies - 'Genet', 'Marcel Proust', 'Rimbaud', etc - and his essays and thoughtful meanderings - 'The Darker Proof', 'The Flâneur', 'My Lives', etc - are always delivered with some of the most elegant prose being written today.And the same goes of CITY BOY.

Edmund White shares life in that pointedly transitional period of the 1960s and 1970s, a time when the country and especially New York City grappled with the unpopular war in Vietnam and the equally unpopular rise of the gay liberation movement.White was present for Stonewall and relates the atmosphere of the streets and the population both before and after.And as if this weren't enough history to essay he adds the changes that were happening in the fields of the arts and of literature. Using a bit of reality as a clever way to focus on the transformation of New York, White shares his experiences with his travels abroad to Italy: his commentary on the rich and famous of Venice, especially the strange creature that was Peggy Guggenheim, is peppered with incidents and alterations of the influences of world events on the people who chronicled them.As part of this memoirization of the times he includes his own frustrations of having his first novel published and the subsequent growth in stature as a writer that he enjoyed.

New York changed during this time, for better and for worse, and at the end of the book Edmund White touches on the plague of AIDS that would once again metamorphose the his city and his world. White's gift is to find the balance between sharing information, relate rollicking tales, and find both sides of the masks of comedy and tragedy and present the entire picture for the audience's musing.He is a classy writer, one that never lets the reader down. Grady Harp, June 10

5-0 out of 5 stars A Poignant, Beautifully Written Novel.....

I just finished City Boy by Edmund White and I loved it.

I was reading Patti Smith's Just Kids and White's book concurrently
(two hardcover books at once - a rarity for someone who prides himself
on a subscription to Vanity Fair ) and found that they offered views of a similar place
and time - yet from very different perspectives. While City Boy portrays the literary side of
1960's /70's New York in depth, it is White's description of that now lost, pre-1981 NYC gay
underworld that will resonate with readers of a certain generation who are fortunate to be alive
today while having experienced it all first-hand.

2-0 out of 5 stars Why do I keep reading this man's books?
The last year has found me fascinated by the New York of the 60's and 70's. I have read a number of novels and memoirs of this
era and found once again that it is easy to get caught up in an era I was born too late to experience first hand.
After I read this book, in 2 sittings, I found myself wondering how on earth anyone could make this era of history sound
so utterly boring and dry.

I am not surprised, actually. I have read a number of White's books and have always found them sterile and emotionless.
More than anything, I find his writing to remind me of the worst kind of journalism. There is no investment in the material.
Why did he love the men in this book? I have no idea. Why were these people his friends? No clue. With one or two exceptions,
I found every recounting of his memories to be distant, removed and told with an odd formality. There is plenty of energy
expended here to weave arcane literary references into the stories and descriptions. I was frequently reminded of his
knowledge of French and Italian by the dropping of phrases he gleaned from his experiences abroad. Sadly, such efforts just
cluttered the loose narrative and served only to remind me that the man has read a lot and traveled extensively. So what?
It is the least interesting thing about him. Where he has been and what he has read is incidental. After reading this
book, I have no lasting impressions about what it felt like to be in one of the most exciting places on earth during one
of the most fertile artistic and cultural times in recent history.

There is no soul in this book. No guts. No heart. I think it has finally broken me of reading his books.

I was far more moved and educated by Patti Smith's recounting of the era, Just Kids. I felt like I had devoured a gourmet
feast after I read it. City Boy made me feel like I had stared at a grainy photo of food in a long ago discarded magazine. ... Read more

2. My Lives: An Autobiography
by Edmund White
Hardcover: 368 Pages (2006-04-01)
list price: US$25.95 -- used & new: US$5.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000PGTEYM
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

No one has been more frank, lucid, rueful and entertaining about growing up gay in Middle America than Edmund White. Best known for his autobiographical novels, starting with A Boy's Own Story, White here takes fiction out of his story and delivers the facts of his life in all their shocking and absorbing verity.

From an adolescence in the 1950s, an era that tried to "cure his homosexuality" but found him "unsalvageable," he emerged into a 1960s society that redesignated his orientation as "acceptable (nearly)." He describes a life touched by psychotherapy in every decade, starting with his flamboyant and demanding therapist mother, who considered him her own personal test case -- and personal escort to cocktail lounges after her divorce. His father thought that even wearing a wristwatch was effeminate, though custodial visits to Dad in Cincinnati inadvertently initiated White into the culture of "hustlers and johns" that changed his life.

In My Lives, White shares his enthusiasms and his passions -- for Paris, for London, for Jean Genet -- and introduces us to his lovers and predilections, past and present. "Now that I'm sixty-five," writes White, "I think this is a good moment to write a memoir. . . . Sixty-five is the right time for casting a backward glance, while one is still fully engaged in one's life."

... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars "The clown with his pants falling down ... or the scene where the villian is mean ...!"
If ever an MGM lyric could substitute as a review for an autobiography by Edmund White, That's Entertainment would serve.Reading My Lives by Edmund White induces awe, irritation, skepticism, heavy judgment, shock, frustration and disbelief but never, ever boredom.

For one thing, and above all, his writing is so accessible and chummy it feels like an invitation to judge, agree and participate in his own summaries and evaluations.Ever since Edmund White wrote States of Desire, an evaluation of the courting and sexual habits of men in the U.S. state by state which gay men took seriously and considered a handbook, his writing has been enjoyed for the sexual revelations as well as its brilliance.He relishes this.This is the man who penned the text for The Joy of Gay Sex, and not just for laughs either.

Talk about six degrees of separation, in both My Lives and The Farewell Symphony I have the feeling that I've either known or have heard of half the men whose stories he tells.It helps that I was in and around New York city in the late 70s and early 80s but I can't be alone in this feeling of immediacy.That is one of his greatest charms, he draws you in and makes you feel he's telling you the truth no matter how bad a light it sheds on himself.

For Mr. White, that light can be very harsh.The temptation to judge him severely is overwhelming, especially in his later years when he falls in love with a seemingly booze-sodden sex god.Where is the dignity and wisdom that comes with age and experience, you ask yourself. (Then ask yourself why you need it.)It becomes clear that the greatest achievement of autobiography is how it reflects on the reader who is able to question how deeply and thoroughly he himself has lived.And although he has implied that he has no use for gay marriage, he seems never without someone to drape his arms about for a book cover, an astounding fact in light of the sexual and emotional independence revealed in My Lives.In My Lives he doesn't really define his present relationship, but refers to his current partner as a sidekick in one of his recounted adventures, and it's a partnership which by its absent examination invites fascination given his self-exposure in this book.

What sticks however are not these stories of men and adventures, but the much more intimate accounts about his mother, father and close long-term friendships.These touching and deep examinations are true eye-openers, and make a considerable contrast to the sexual stories which, although entertaining, are not particularly moving.Especially involving is the chapter on several of his friends, how they became friends as young innocents, and how they continue their friendships (or not) as seasoned elders with the dangers of hard-edged adulthood to overcome.The chapter on researching his biography of Jean Genet gave new insights into White's life in France.The difficulties of researching someone whose language is not your own, and interviewing people who do not wished to be interviewed or for whose testimony the cost is considerable, are entertainingly described and elaborated.

3-0 out of 5 stars Lots of good writing (despite the choppy structure) and some revealing information, but why so quiet on some topics?
At the September 2007 meeting of the NYC LGBT Center Book Discussion group, we discussed "My Lives" by Edmund White. We had a nice group of readers who were split on Mr. White's memoir.

Many thought that Edmund White offers well-turned phrases and interesting ideas, but an equal number thought that he was a little too full of himself. We all thought that some of his chapters, such as "My Father," "My Mother," and "My Genet," were more interesting than the "My Master" and "My Blondes" chapters. Several found the "My Master" chapter disturbingly full of details, with White trying to shock us but failing. While he prides himself on being open, we thought that the complete lack of information about his 12-year (very open) relationship with his current lover was odd.

We also thought that a mention of his long-time friend Susan Sontag, after their falling out, would have been revealing for someone who is trying to reveal himself at last. Some also thought that since some individual chapters were so much better than other chapters, the book seems choppy and showed that some of the chapters had originally been written for publication in magazines and journals.

We continue to respect Mr. White as a serious master who has seen gay liberation through its many modern periods, as he very nicely does in "My Lives," but think that some of his earlier writings are stronger than this.

2-0 out of 5 stars When he's good, he's very good...
This is a book where 2 1/2 stars would be about right. Judging from other reviews, White's fans love this book while others give mixed to negative reviews. At its best, White's prose is frankly beautiful. He is able to capture a scene, a place, or a series of events in way that is completely captivating. Unfortunately, large chunks of the book attempt to deal with motives (his own and those of others) and reflections on his own life or the lives of others. In these places, the effort is self-indulgent and often silly. Despite his own efforts at trying to portray himself as "egalitarian", "enlightened", and beyond his heartland roots, he comes across as the worst sort of provincial: the type who moves to the big city, and travels to interesting places but remains pretty small minded, as if he were becoming a yearning provincial's idea of a cosmopolitan. He clearly has been unable to integrate different parts of his experience, which may explain his failures in psychoanalysis as much as the quack analysts he has employed. He drops the names of concepts from Buddhism in the same way he drops the names of famous acquaintances and it's unclear how these or any other of his intellectual name droppings (like Deweyan pragmatism) have made any impression. In the case of Buddhism, the ideal of transcending ego clearly seems far beyond him. He talks endlessly of poverty throughout his life, yet his mother's alimony and child support was about what a 1950s family usually made, plus she had her own salary. As an adult, he claims to have struggled yet helped support his mother. It just doesn't add up. The chronology falls apart in places and people seem oddly missing from his life including his fellow writers from the collaborative he co-founded, as well as his sister.

White was part of the first cohort of gay writers to achieve some degree of commercial success and mainstream critical recognition. I've read many of their books, but they tend to run together to me--coming of age novels, followed, by AIDS era stories and among the lucky survivors, stories about the trials of middle age. As a group, they tend to be liberal arts grads of "good" colleges from upper middle class families who seem a little oblivious to things like making a living. Had White been born earlier, his gifts would have helped him stay and succeed further in his earlier careers as a Time-Life book writer and university textbook editor. Had he been born later, the glut of coming of age books might have led him to genre fiction, with him self-indulging his way through bad softcore S&M fiction or detective novels. It is perhaps to his detriment that my reading of this book overlapped with reading Ted Kennedy's memoir and a somewhat hero worshiping bio of Pat Tillman. Both of those men did something more than would have been expected of most men and Kennedy was an early advocate of gay rights. By comparison, White's uneven and largely self-indulgent writing here seems trivial, particularly in the context of having been part of a cohort of other, often more talented writers. If you're not a fan already, don't expect too much of this effort.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man
Reading Edmund White, perhaps one of the most heralded gay American writers today, can be a jarring experience.Full of lurid sexual exploits, endless name-dropping of intellectuals with whom he was acquainted, and just for good measure, countless vignettes from the history of French literature, this volume of his autobiography makes for vertiginous reading.In fact, this mixture of a highly personal life with the reflections and insights of an academic make it very much like some of his later fiction (specifically "The Married Man").

But we learn plenty of White's earlier life as well, almost as if White is sitting on the therapist's couch "typing" to a therapeutic word processor.This may not be surprising, since we learn that his mother is a psychologist and his father is a loud, abusive drunk.Throughout the entire arc of his life, he reveals to us a deeply wounded, desperate ego.Many may believe that his celerity to tell us about the personal details of his life is a transparent attempt to offset his fragile personality.It is not an unwarranted conclusion.But by the end of the book, it became clear that he was not trying to account for anything in his past.Rather, after a life full of rejection, one more is but a drop in the ocean.I have seen interviews with him, and his discomfort and unease with his physical appearance are visible in his general mien.

Structurally speaking, this biography is an interesting one.While most are broken down into rough chronological chunks, these chapter divisions are grouped by interests or experiences, from the banal to the more explicit: a few include "My Women," "My Genet," and "My Blondes."In almost all of these, he seems to want to showcase his cynicism and intellectual seclusion.But, needless to say, the innocence which overflowed like milk and honey in "The Beautiful Room Is Empty" runs bone-dry here.

Ultimately, I cannot recommend this, except perhaps for the odd datum about Genet's masochism or Comte de Lautréamont's uncommonly early death.White is at his best in his biographical writing.His book on Genet is a wonderful psychological portrait, and will continue to serve as a sourcebook for both his life and his work.White's autobiographical writing, at least for me, contains a bit too much treacle and self-loathing.

3-0 out of 5 stars This is a life?
At a certain juncture in My Lives, Edmund White jokes that the reader must certainly be saying to himself, "TMI! Too much information!" White is, at that point, talking in extravagant detail about his sex life--but then it's something of a challenge to find a moment in My Lives when he isn't talking about his sex life, or other people's, or describing his partners' physical endowments with the appraising eye of the steer judge at the county fair. When the book is done, the feeling one is left with, above all others, is a kind of disorientation: How is it that a writer with White's career, talent, and success has so little else to talk about? Edmund White is nearly twenty years older than I am, and that may explain a great deal. He was already a mature man when I came out in 1976, had already published two novels (though his real masterpieces, A Boy's Own Story, The Beautiful Room Is Empty, and his book of stories, Skinned Alive were still before him), had already been through his early attempts to cure himself of homosexuality, his first important loves. In the rapid-fire social evolutions and revolutions between White's birth and today, twenty years is a very long time, indeed; so I have no difficulty imagining that questions of sex and desire were defining for White in ways that they were not for me. As I say, that may explain a lot, but I'm not sure it fully explains the obsessive turning over and over of sexual conquests and (especially) sexual failures that characterizes My Lives. In fact, White's revelations seems calculated to produce humiliation (his own: after a certain number of repetitions, his comments about being fat and underendowed solicit disgust rather than sympathy or understanding) and, simultaneously, to force the reader into a nonconsensual S&M relationship. I suppose you've really hit the big time if you can get HarperCollins to help you play dominance and submission, but My Lives is sad when it most wants to be provocative, tawdry when it most wants to elucidate. There's a great deal I'd liked to have learned from Edmund White, but incessant details about phone sex, late-night cruising, failed three-ways, men who didn't love him, men he didn't love, the terrible tragedy of not being young and muscular anymore ... those weren't on my list. In fact, White's sex life is what makes him exactly like everybody else; I bought the book because I was interested in reading about how he was different. ... Read more

3. The Farewell Symphony
by Edmund White
 Paperback: 432 Pages (1998-09-01)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$8.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679754768
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Following A Boy's Own Story (now a classic of American fiction) and his richly acclaimed The Beautiful Room Is Empty, here is the eagerly awaited final volume of Edmund White's groundbreaking autobiographical trilogy.

Named for the work by Haydn in which the instrumentalists leave the stage one after another until only a single violin remains playing, this is the story of a man who has outlived most of his friends. Having reached the six-month anniversary of his lover's death, he embarks on a journey of remembrance that will recount his struggle to become a writer and his discovery of what it means to be a gay man. His witty, conversational narrative transports us from the 1960s to the near present, from starkly erotic scenes in the back rooms of New York clubs to episodes of rarefied hilarity in the salons of Paris to moments of family truth in the American Midwest. Along the way, a breathtaking variety of personal connections--and near misses--slowly builds an awareness of the transformative power of genuine friendship, of love and loss, culminating in an indelible experience with a dying man. And as the flow of memory carries us across time, space and society, one man's magnificently realized story grows to encompass an entire generation.

Sublimely funny yet elegiac, full of unsparingly trenchant social observation yet infused with wisdom and a deeply felt compassion, The Farewell Symphony is a triumph of reflection and expressive elegance. It is also a stunning and wholly original panorama of gay life over the past thirty years--the crowning achievement of one of our finest writers. Amazon.com Review
Edmund White has long been praised as one of America's mostaccomplished novelists. The Farewell Symphony is the finalvolume in the autobiographical trilogy that began with A Boy's Own Storyand The Beautiful RoomIs Empty. It details the narrator's life in New York in the1970s and his flight to Paris as the AIDS epidemic begins. White'sprose, at once lucid and magical, is the essence of great writing. Itsplainspoken cadences and language resonate with the tragedy ofyouthful passion giving way to hard-earned knowledge. Like SherwoodAnderson or Theodore Dreiser, White has captured the soul of theAmerican experience--in this case a gay male experience--and made itinto art. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (21)

1-0 out of 5 stars Long, Pompous, Pointless
I read the first two books of the trilogy with less and less energy and interest. Nevertheless, the first book was satisfying - its flaws were compensated by its qualities. In this volume however, only the flaws are left.

The writing is sometimes clever, but it doesn't make up for all the times when it's pompous, affected, nothing more, I regret to say, than intellectual wanking. The author goes from place to place (New York, Paris, Italy) and from character to character without making any point. Of course, one does not *have* to make a point, if the characters are entertaining and the scenes thrilling. This is not the case here. We just follow this insipid self-loathing and mysoginist young gay man whose only quality is to have friends that are better than him, and hear about his constant changing moods, his failures and his tedious sex life.

This book seems like a self-published book. As if it hadn't been edited: Pages and pages of uninteresting, irrelevant details and facts and events that could and should have been cut out. The only interesting moment of the book is the death of his friends - it is, indeed, moving. But then again, how hard is it to be moving when one is talking about aids? Nothing to be proud of.

In conclusion, an overrated book from an overrated author, whose success symbolizes the problem of gay litterature: There's so little of it that it doesn't take much to make a "classic"... In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

3-0 out of 5 stars A sad farewell
White's earlier books in the trilogy showed his at first hesitant, then total submersion into the gay world.In reading this book, it seemed as if everyone White knew died of AIDS, and he spent years as HIV positive while writing it.That gave this reader the same feeling he gained in reading Reinaldo Arenas' "Before Night Falls:" One felt he was sharing White's last months and wondered if he was going to live to finish it.That gave added pathos to the book, which also exhibited White's best, most linear, least obscure writing toward the end than that found in other books in the trilogy.Again, it was so heavily into the gay world that gay readers could perhaps identify with it more easily than most other readers.

5-0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary!
Absolutely extraordinary! Fiction, memoir, apologia, confession, chronicle, biography all wrapped in one eidetic gay life. Is this White's own life or his narrator's or both? Regardless, it tells of a life, a consuming life, at times raunchy, other times sweet, but always viscerally real, that, in the author's own words, is "about the 1960s ending with the Stonewall Uprising in 1969 and the beginning of gay liberation . . .placed on such a rapid cycle - oppressed in the fifties, freed in the sixties, exalted in the seventies, and wiped out in the eighties . . . .[to] remind gay readers of the need to fight lest we fall back into the self-hating, gay-bashing past" (405). Its mimetic power lies in its honesty and candor, as though reading Augustine's "Confessions" or Newman's "Apologia," but instead of theology as its impetus, the existential truth of the gay consciousness is told to confound, "the Christian Right-my very relatives in Texas!-now attacking gays, since the gradual collapse of the Evil Empire of Communism left nothing to unite the rich few and the numerous poor on the right into the semblance of unity except a factitious agitation over `family values'" (ibid.). This novel is real gay history!

Ironically, the German Catholic theologian Hans van Balthasar wrote a tract known as "Truth in Symphonic." It plays on the symphonic metaphor that each instrument in the orchestra contributes its unique insights into the theological truth of Catholicism. In every imaginative way, White's "truth" is even more symphonic; it's captures the truth about real lives whose truth is in feelings, emotions, sensations, hopes, desires, compulsions, regrets, anger, libido, literature, art, aesthetics, ideas, justice, happiness, depression, disgust, revulsion, elan vital, lust, recreation, smoking, coffee, drugs, alcohol, sleep, trade, orgies, fantasies, and harsh realities. But that's not where the title derives; it comes from Haydn's Farewell Symphony, where musicians gradually leave the stage, until the conclusion with a solo violinist. That metaphor is apt for our narrator's life.

Reliving these events both vicariously and with verisimilitude brought tears and joy in reading. Powerfully, the narrator's life is intrinsically my life; the mirror of the times and places brought reabsorption, the joy, the pleasures, the pain, the agony, the frustration, and above all the fight to be. That struggle must continue. For example, one sees clearly how the adversity of AIDS has taught the world more compassion than all the fever of the religious zealots. And despite setbacks, the fight is by no means over, there's still more to overcome, both personally and collectively. As the a gay consciousness continues to evolve, love, not ideology, is the nexus that will ultimately conquer and bring us to the Promised Land. Many Christians get it, but sadly too many don't. Doubly ditto for Muslims. How can someone posit "God is Love," then turn to hate? N o one knows if God exists, that takes faith, but we do know that love exists, and if Christian maxim is true, then the hope we have will be evident in the loves that we express-in all its symphonic ways.

White is an extraordinary author. His elegant, mellifluous, sumptuous, and Baroque prose won't appeal to everyone, but his ability to tell a highly complex story in such an efficient way will. This story will alight memories to everyone over fifty, and be instructive history to everyone under. One of my all-time top five novels.

5-0 out of 5 stars Proustian
At times I had to slug through this opus--it's more than a "novel." Sometimes tedius, plotless, tangled with characters and occurrences that make little distinction between the minor and the major.... I can only say that I'm glad I had staying power. If you stick with this "novel" it will finally weave you into a web so intricate and painful and glorius and designed that it transcends literature. I'm not sure what to call it. Art? Certainly a masterpiece that defies easy description.

5-0 out of 5 stars Radiant And Poignant
Wow being a gay male must be rough, so I can't go there. I found Edmund's so called "ramblings" as described by many reviewers to be beautifully written and real. Yes, the book was a bit hard to read and get through, but I found it poignant yet distressing. Most of his friends start dying, and his surrogate teenage children go back to Chicago. I found the chapter about Gabe and Ana rather interesting since it was retold again in The Boy With The Thorn In His Side (Gabe and Ana are Keith and Laura), in his version he describes all the love he feels for them as a mentor/parent. Not only is Edmund in the 70's, a gay cruiser, struggling writer, drug user, but he also has to struggle financially to parent two rambunctious teenagers that he rescues from horrid circumstances. Edmund writes from the heart, and is painfully honest as he writes about the many losses he goes through in this wonderful book. ... Read more

4. Edmund and the White Witch (Narnia)
by C. S. Lewis
Paperback: 24 Pages (1998-10-31)
list price: US$5.95 -- used & new: US$7.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0064435067
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
When Edmund steps into Narnia, he meets the White Witch, who feeds him enchanted Turkish Delight and makes him promise to return to Narnia with his brothers and sisters. Full-color illustrations. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Novel Turn for a Children's Classic
As a teacher of reading and writing, I've discovered a very popular lesson among students of all ages:write a known story from a different point of view.The protagonist of this children's book is The Traitor, Edmund, but it is a different Edmund than the one we're used to, a different one from the one portrayed in the recently-released film.Edmund has always been an easy target for castigation, but this literary rendition beautifully illustrates the teaching that we should not be so quick to judge.Perhaps this rendition prepares our path to forgiveness -- a path that C.S. Lewis tried to forge.

5-0 out of 5 stars Edmund and The White Witch
Absolutely a wonderful adaptation of the original for younger readers.I have younger kids, ages 5 & 7 and they love this book and the others like it.It is a good book for "Transitional" readers in the 1st and 2nd grade.I just love the fact I can share these wonderful stories with them!

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!
You can also see my review of Aslan, another picture book in this series.The entire series is just wonderful.The text is pure Lewis - all excerpts from the original text.Maze is very true to his descriptions in her illustrations.My daughters love the original novels and they love these books as well!The only concern for this particular book is that some of the illustrations can be a little scary for a sensitive child.The witch is evil but beautiful.Her cohorts are evil and many are gruesome.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is a great book for young children!
I grew up reading the Narnia books, and I was thrilled to find this beautifully illustrated child's version!My 4 year old son loves for us to read this book to him as well as the other two Narnia books illustrated by Deborah Maze. Keep in mind that this book is only a small portion of theoriginal book, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."With that in mind, sit down with a little one and enjoy the story and the incredible, detailed drawings from the world of Narnia!

2-0 out of 5 stars One big rehash
Do not read if you've read The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe!This is just Edmund's point of view of it (as the title proves). ... Read more

5. Hotel de Dream: A New York Novel
by Edmund White
Hardcover: 240 Pages (2007-09-01)
list price: US$23.95 -- used & new: US$7.24
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B003F76FXQ
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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In a damp, old sussex castle, American literary phenomenon Stephen Crane lies on his deathbed, wasting away from tuberculosis at the age of twenty-eight. The world-famous author of The Red Badge of Courage has retreated to England with his wife, Cora, in part to avoid gossip about her ignominious past as the proprietress of a Florida bordello, the Hotel de Dream.

Though Crane's days are numbered, he and Cora live riotously, running up bills they'll never be able to pay, receiving visitors like Henry James and Joseph Conrad, and even planning a mad dash to Germany's Black Forest, where Cora hopes a leading TB specialist will provide a miracle cure.

Then, in the midst of the confusion and gathering tragedy of their lives, Crane begins dictating a strange novel. The Painted Boy draws from Crane's erstwhile journalist days in New York in the 1890s, a poignant story about a boy prostitute and the married man who ruins his own life to win the boy's love. Crane originally planned the book as a companion piece to Maggie, Girl of the Streets, but abandoned it when literary friends convinced him that such scandalous subject matter would destroy his career. Now, with his last breath, Crane devotes himself to refashioning this powerful novel, into which he pours his fascination with the underworld, his sympathy for the poor, his experiences as a reporter among New York's lowlife—and his complex feelings for his own devoted wife.

Seamlessly flowing between the vibrant, seedy atmosphere of turn-of-the-century Manhattan and the quiet Sussex countryside, Hotel de Dream tenderly presents the double love stories of Cora and Crane, and the painted boy and his banker lover. The brilliant novel-within-a-novel combines the youthful simplicity of Crane's own prose with White's elegant sense of form, offering an unforgettable portrait of passion in all its guises.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars Edmund White's modern tribute to the American naturalist literary tradition
Edmund White's "fantasia on real themes provided by history" is a book of echoes. Expanding upon an apocryphal story--that Stephen Crane had started, then destroyed a novel about a young male prostitute (a "painted boy")--White envisions his own depiction of the process by which a novelist imagines and writes his fiction. We read of the debilitating misery of Crane's last days alongside the novel he is struggling to dictate to Cora Taylor, the common-life "wife" who once ran "Hotel de Dream," a high-class Florida brothel. White's imaginary and real characters waste away from diseases (the boy from syphilis, Crane from tuberculosis) that will remind many readers of the modern AIDS epidemic. And both the novel and the novel-within-the novel evolve into gritty yet elegiac commemorations of Crane's life and work in the same way that Crane's sketches preserve for us unsentimental portraits of New York street life.

White wisely avoids conjuring the novel as Crane might have written it, and his re-creation of the mythical novel (called "The Painted Boy") is intentionally preposterous. As Cora herself says to Stephen, "It's certainly a bizarre book and not really in your vein, what with the perverts and the criminals and the larceny and the death threats." Although Stephen's response--that "it's not that far from some of my journalism"--is not untrue, anything so sexually charged would have been, at best, privately printed as smut and circulated among a few gentleman friends (as was Mark Twain's "1601" or Cleland's "Fanny Hill"). What we have, then, is a modern pastiche with hints of Crane's style and lingo, a curio by Edmund White written in the American naturalist style of Frank Norris or Theodore Dreiser. The result is not only an unlikely (but believable) love story between a boy and his john but also a chronicle of their inexorable demise. (I was often reminded not only of Crane's "Maggie" but also of Norris's "Vandover and the Brute"). And the fate of this "lost" book allows White to get in a fond dig at Henry James's famously prissy prudishness.

But it's the very real story of Stephen and Cora that serves as ballast. As the couple treks futilely from England to a health spa in Germany, where they hope to find a rest-cure, they encounter or discuss their famous literary friends--Joseph Conrad, H. G. Wells, and William Dean Howells, among others--and White incorporates this roster as a means of evoking the varieties of Victorian-era fiction. As Stephen's health deteriorates, we descend with him, "the thoughts sputtering through the last intact brain tissue"; his grasp of his surroundings both dream-like and nightmarish, and Cora's attentions both loving and determined. That we know how it all will end somehow makes it all much more powerful, and the book's final chapters comprise one of the most riveting death scenes ever written.

4-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, but slight
In Hotel de Dream, Edmund White presents a fellow writer, a fellow-countryman called Stephen Crane. Stephen is well connected, but ill-equipped. We are in turn of the century England. That's old-England, by the way, and we are tuning into the twentieth, not twenty-first century. Henry James drops by occasionally. Conrad sometimes stumbles hereabouts and Arnold Bennett throws in an occasional sentence. But Stephen's social life is hardly hectic. He is ill, tubercular, and in need of treatment. He seeks what might be a last chance, perhaps, to deny or merely postpone the inevitable. A clinic in Germany might be able to offer an answer. If only he had the money.

While his carer, Cora, struggles to meet his needs, Stephen recalls a street-waif in New York. Elliott is in his mid-teens. He sells newspapers and does a little thieving on the side.Prostitution fills otherwise unproductive hours. Stephen further recalls the boy's beauty, his wholly pragmatic approach to securing a livelihood and also his syphilis, a condition for which the writer tries to arrange treatment. Via the germ of memory, Stephen, despite his own failing health, begins to invent a narrative. He writes from his sick bed, his weakness eventually requiring he dictates to his partner.

He tells the story of Elliott's arrival in New York and his introduction to the ways of the street by an Irish red-head boy who is in need of an accomplice. He describes the petty larceny and the occasional servicing of specific services for casual clients that provide the boy with a living. When Theordore, a middle-aged, unhappily-married family man takes a liking to the boy, everyday life takes a different twist. Elliott and his accomplice have just done for Theodore's wallet. The older man, however, hardly notices the loss, so taken is he with the lad's delicate, almost porcelain but ailing beauty. Theodore and Elliott the lad become lovers and Theodore's respectable career as a banker becomes increasingly compromised by the pressure of having to provide with the boy's needs, his own desires and his family's respectability.

Stephen Crane's own condition deteriorates. As he heads to the Continent for last-ditch restorative treatment, he has to dictate his writing to his carer, herself a former brothel owner. And so Edmund White skilfully presents parallel narratives relating Stephen's treatment and decline and Theodore's self-destructive obsession with Elliott. Together, they proceed towards their perhaps inevitable conclusions.

All of this happens in around 80,000 words. Hotel de Dream is far from a long book, and yet it manages to pursue both themes adequately. Edmund White's style is nothing less than beautiful throughout. He is economic with language, but also poetic and in places highly elegant. The book is a real joy to read.

But there remains the problem of the subject matter. Edmund White appears to believe thatthe homosexual, even paedophilic nature of the writer's fiction is inherently interesting because of its subject matter. Without that, the predictable decline of the writer would be less than interesting. The process was hardly original. After all, Chopin had already trod this path three quarters of a century earlier! And to greater effect! Edmund White does ask some questions about attitudes towards homosexuality, about double standards and also about loveless marriage. But they are questions merely asked. There are only cameos of the detailed scenarios that might suggest answers.

But at the core of Hotel de Dream is the assertion that Stephen Crane is one of America's greatest writers. An early death and an interest in risqué subject matter conspired, however, to keep him from the wider public gaze.

Though Edmund White's book works in itself, it fails to convince the reader of this grand assertion about its subject. To make its point, it would need to be weightier, broader and offer much more evidence. Its apparent self-satisfaction with the mere statement of sexual proclivity falls well short of real substance. But then lives may be substantially less than substance. Hotel de Dream is a captivating read and an engaging, often beautiful study.

5-0 out of 5 stars White does an admirable job for American Literature!

It can well be called a "biographical fantasy," but regardless, Edmund White's "Hotel de Dream" is well worth the read, particularly to students of Ameican literary history.In "Hotel," Edmund gives us (fictionally, of course) a dying Stephen Crane, on his way to Germany for some last-minute health remedies.

There have long been rumors of Crane's last and lost work and White has the foundation for a fascinating story along these lines.Crane is credited with one of America's best and literarily important novels (The Red Badge of Courage), as he established in the modern world "realism in the novel," a theme not even remotely (or successfully) achieved before this.

Thus, White gives us a look at what he believes to be the "real" Crane, as he struggles with a form to tuberulosis, and uses flashback to give us some background on this "lost novel" Crane is writing, with the help of his common law wife Cora."The Painted Boy" tells the story of Elliott, a young male prostitute in New York City, a farm boy abused by his family who runs away to the City to get away, only to find that prostituting himself is the only way to survive.

This "story within a story" is the backbone of "Hotel de Dream" and the idea of such a story seems to hold water.White is very careful not to mar Crane's reputation (he actually takes Crane, the author we all had to read in high school, and humanizes him, honorably).White's ability to use Crane's style of writing (well-paced, terse, to the point) is admirable; in addition, the late 18th-century characters he utilizes seem relatively real, if not tragic.

4-0 out of 5 stars A great author, and a good (albeit melodramatic) novel within a novel
At the December 2008 meeting of the NYC LGBT Center book discussion group, we had a large group of men and women discuss "Hotel de Dream" by Edmund White.

Everyone liked the book, but most seemed to like "The Painted Boy" novel within the novel more than the Stephen Crane and Cora framing device of the book. Many did like the interaction between Stephen Crane and Elliott (the original painted boy in real life) but did not find Stephen and Cora to be especially well drawn: Stephen is constantly dying, the real authors such as Henry James and Joseph Conrad are constantly intruding, and Cora is constantly caring.

Having said that most of us seemed to like "The Painted Boy" novel within the novel, many also found the story of the young boy prostitute finally to be too melodramatic and overblown (a detective, a gangster, a blackmail letter, a bank theft, a destroyed wife, a fire, etc.). I think that most of us like Edmund White but probably prefer his fiction to his memoirs or biographies. Individually, some of the sentences and paragraphs are breathtaking - truly amazing writing with big ideas and the perfect word to express the exact right sentiment. This was an good story, interestingly told, but not memorable in the long run.

4-0 out of 5 stars VIRTUOSIC AS EVER
Edmund White has dazzled us before.Those familiar with his writing know to expect perfectly constructed sentences delivering a compelling story.This book is no surprise.Here, the main character is Stephen Crane, the American writer who wrote "Red Badge of Courage" and "Maggie, A Girl of the Streets".Crane dictates a novel to his wife about a fifteen year old male hustler and a married banker that falls in love with him.The dictated novel (which in real life Crane never wrote) is interspersed with the Stephen Crane story line, which is primarily about his decline due to tuberculosis and his desperate attempt to finish the hustler novel before he dies.

It is a testament to White's skill as a writer that we care not just about what happens to Crane, but also about the fictitious creations he is conjuring up in the novel.We care so much, in fact, about the characters we know are fiction, that we have to remind ourselves that the Stephen Crane story line is also made up, a fictitious creation about a real-life American writer.We as readers are transported twice: once into the fictitious Stephen Crane world, and again into the world he creates as he dies.

Edmund White is one of the "grands seigneurs" of modern American literature.Here he does not disappoint. ... Read more

6. The Beautiful Room Is Empty: A Novel
by Edmund White
Paperback: 240 Pages (1994-10-04)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.62
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679755403
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Moving with sinuous ease from a claustrophobic Midwestern college town in the 1950s to Greenwich Village on the night of the Stonewall rebellion, Edmund White's poised yet scalding autobiographical novel is a portrait of the artist as a young gay man finding his way within a country that has no room for sexual dissidents. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars Classic Gay Novel
All about being gay but not fully accepting it.The book contains many instances of having sex just to feel better.Some things never change.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting learning experience
The author apparently wrote this book over a long period, while making a living on other writings.As a result, his style was inconsistent and labored in much of the book.His frequent, if not constant references to sometimes obscure literature suggested he was giving the reader a look into another, more literate world than most of us inhabit, which was interesting.His experiences while living abroad were a good vicarious experience for the reader, though the fact that his entire experience seemed submerged in the gay world made it difficult to identify with much of what he was saying, though again, perhaps it was an important vicarious learning experience for most readers.

5-0 out of 5 stars Construction of gay identity
Edmund White writes beautifully and this narrative is flowing, interesting, and compelling. White writes as if he is developing a 1980 memoire about the 1960s. But at the core of this novel is a dilemma that is never fully answered in the novel and is probably never really answered in the lives of gay men and women. Other reviews and reviewers do an excellent job of telling the narrative details of this novel, but underneath this narrative is a question regarding identify and identity development.

The basic question is whether gay men are born gay and thus they come out through a process of ever more intense and meaningful gay experiences and friendships and relationships with a broad cast of characters or whether gay men learn to be gay and take on a gay identity through emersion into various relationships with significant persons who teach the youth how to be gay. The brilliance of The Beautiful Room is Empty is that White is able to weave both of these concepts together into a whole cloth of experience, never fully answering whether the power of the instinctual sexual identity is paramount and is revealed in a series of vignetts and character studies with friends and lovers or whether the passion and identity are more diffuse and coagulate around core external experiences where gay identity is learned and reinforced. Both are deterministic models, whether it be a biological determinism or a social structural determinism. Internal reality is always checked against external reality in White's narrative. The drive to sexual expression is the impetus toward self discovery in much of the book, rather than a less sophisticated approach wereby sexual expression is taken as just one component of a series of relationships.

Overall the book is a very good read, shocking in some parts as public bathroom sex is described, but always about an unfolding reality that is heavily influenced by events and relationships.

5-0 out of 5 stars Eloquent Coming-Out Experience
White is clearly one of the finest prosaists in the last half of the 20th C. America. His mellifluous writing and lucid exposition have earned him the wide respect that he deserves.

"The Beautiful Room is Empty" is a sequel to his earlier "A Boy's Own Story," the evolving process of coming-out gay in the Sixties. The first novel scouts the adolescent years; this novel covers early adulthood. Much has changed in the way that people come-out today, versus the time when being gay was stigmatized by everybody. Curing homosexuality was seen as viable by both the queer himself and by the anti-queer establishment. Fortunately, while coming-out may still be a demanding process, it is far less traumatic than a few score ago, because of these earlier pioneers.

In an almost plotless chronicle of coming-out, the focus is on the author's first-person's introspection of dealing with himself and the gay world as it was then. The ways in which people connected were far more convoluted, clandestine, and often illegal. It wasn't much of a life, until the Stonewall riots liberated gays from their false imprisonment. It not only opened new avenues by which to meet and socialize, but it also rejected the premise that gays should be neither heard nor seen. The toll these older restrictions had on men and women must have been truly appalling, causing much externalized homophobia to turn inward.

To see how far the GLBT community has come in the past 40 years is itself a witness to these earlier pioneers. We owe it to them to hear their story, especially when it's this well-told.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Beautiful Room
Edmund White's 'Beautiful Room' is a moving, wonderful story, crafted around the late teens to late twenties of the narrator, known only as 'Bunny' to his friend Lou, one of the many lively, memorable characters encountered along the way, as well as Tex, a flaboyant bookstore owner, who gives 'Bunny' his earliest education in 'gay slang.'

'Bunny', at the beginning of the novel, is a prep-school student coming to terms with his homosexuality, by engaging in anonymous sexual encounter after encounter in the boy's bathrooms, where his lovers are seen only from waistline to knees. He dresses and plays the part of the dutiful prep school student by day, but once class is out, he drifts toward the bohemians, gracing the coffee shops of their 1950's and 60's lives, watching them paint, sharing their surrealist literature and poetry, and secretly lusting after the males.A child of divorced parents, his father determined to make a man out of him, his mother convinced that all he needs is a cure, the narrator carries us along on his ride, meeting many notable characters along the way, that shape and influence his gradual acceptance that he is gay.

Following his school years, when he enters the work force and the real world, the words of a school-friend come back to haunt him, that 'some day he will have too much freedom,' freedom to choose where he goes, what he does, and who he is. He drifts along from job to job, from lover to lover, Lou, Fred, and the frequent pick-ups from Christoper Street, until he meets Sean, a closeted young man who leads 'Bunny' to question his own identity as they both enter group therapy to try and overcome their 'illness' and go straight, with very different results.

Culminating at the famous Stonewall site, Edmund White provides readers with a grand tour-de-force of growing up gay in the 50's and 60's in Chicago and New York.

Sometimes poignant, sometimes emotional, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, 'Beautiful Room' is a beautiful book, with a beautiful story to tell. The narrator, presumably White himself, as the book is supposed to be autobiographical, slips from identity to identity as he tries to find his own. Young and unsure of himself, he tries to be what everyone else wants him to be until he finds himself.

Although this story centers on a gay man, the book speaks volumes to anyone struggling to find their own identity, and the choices and mistakes we all make along the way. ... Read more

7. Terre Haute
by Edmund White
Paperback: 52 Pages (2009-04-13)
list price: US$8.95 -- used & new: US$5.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0573696535
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Drama/ 2mA famous author comes face-to-face with America's most notorious terrorist. One has a story to write, the other has a story to tell. As the clock ticks on death row, a strange bond grows between the two men. Filled with clever sparring and raw emotion, this is a tuat drama that touches on the definitions of freedom and the need for love.The Daily Telegraph in London hailed Terre Haute as, "topical, transgressive and thrillingly dramatic.""White has captured the amusingly constricted voices of the patrician novelist and the plebian terrorist cannily and cogently." -Charles Isherwood, The New York Times"...provides us a concise and haunting retelling of the facts, plus an imaginative and realistic creation of 'what could have been'." -broadwayworld.com ... Read more

8. The Married Man: A Novel
by Edmund White
Paperback: 336 Pages (2001-09-11)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679781447
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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In Edmund White's most moving novel yet, an American living in Paris finds his life transformed by an unexpected love affair.

Austin Smith is pushing fifty, loveless and drifting, until one day he meets Julien, a much younger, married Frenchman. In the beginning, the lovers' only impediments are the comic clashes of culture, age, and temperament. Before long, however, the past begins to catch up with them. In a desperate quest to save health and happiness, they move from Venice to Key West, from Montreal in the snow to Providence in the rain. But it is amid the bleak, baking sands of the Sahara that their love is pushed to its ultimate crisis. Amazon.com Review
Edmund White majored in sexual explicitness with his boldlyautobiographicaltrilogy--A Boy's OwnStory, The Beautiful Room Is Empty, and The Farewell Symphony. Now, explicitly as ever, he trains his unflinching eye on a new subject: a young man's death from AIDS. Austin is a fiftysomething American expat in Paris; Julien is a young married man he meets at the gym. Much to Austin's surprise, Julien calls him and soon they are sharing a bed and a life. The Married Man is White's Henry James novel: the first couple hundred pages show us a satirical portrait of young Julien as a stuffy Frenchman and a more elliptical portrait ofAustin's apprehension of French culture through his lover. With Julien,"Austin was always learning things, not necessarily reasoned or researched information but rather all those thousands and thousands of brand names, turns of phrase, aversions and anecdotes that make up a culture as surely as do the moves in a child's game of hopscotch."

But White wants to take us all the way to the end of this relationship.Austin is HIV positive, and it soon becomes clear that Julien has AIDS. As Julien's health unravels, the two travel to Providence, to Key West, to Venice, to Rome, and ultimately to Morocco. The author coins a darkly appropriate phrase for this urge to move: he calls it "AIDS-restlessness." White, in fact, unveils a whole gallery of startling images as Julien nears death. Julien is "the bowler hat descending into the live volcano." Thin and brown and bearded, he looks "like the Ottoman Empire in a turn-of-the-century political cartoon." Though he can't read it, Julien acquires a copy of the Koran. "It was the perfect book for a weary, dying man--pious, incomprehensible pages to strum, an ink cloud of unknowing." White has found a language both magical and clinical to describe a horrible death. --Claire Dederer ... Read more

Customer Reviews (45)

4-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful & moving story but lacked depth
Edmund White has written a very beautiful book on a very dark subject.I agree with most of the 5 star reviews that praised this book and the 2 star reviews that were disappointed with parts of this book.Yes, I am very conflicted about this book.I felt very cheated with the way this book ended.I actually kept looking over the blank pages at the end of the book to make sure an extra chapter or an epilogue wasn't accidently left out.I felt like I didn't get an ending at all.I know, I know, life isn't like that.It goes on and on no matter what tragedies happen in your life.And people do things with no explanations but I wanted an explanation, dang it!But maybe that's me.I read fiction because I want everything nice and neat.A reason for every action.I also wanted a happy ending as impossible as it might be in real life under these settings.I wanted that silver lining.That, I did not get.But I am not at all sorry that I read this book.Far from it, I recommend it.Just know that the ending is very unexpected.I expected it way before or else a reason for going on to that point.

Mr White is a very detailed story-teller full of rich descriptions and a very clear easy-to-picture images.But I never felt like I knew who the main character Austin was.I know what foods he served when he entertained but not how he felt about always being on the giving end.Austin's lover Julian I knew even less.How did Austin really feel about Julian?What did Julian really think about Austin?Sure, I knew all about the motions they went thru but the dialogue between them was lacking at best.

Both Austin and Julian seemed almost shallow only because I knew what clothes they wore more than what they really felt.This book read more like a non-fiction (detailed descriptions)than a fiction (detailed emotions and feelings).Heck, I knew more about how Austin felt about a past lover of his than how he really felt about his current lover who he was with all throughout this book.

When I finished reading the Married Man, I knew I enjoyed reading the book but I didn't have that satisfied full feeling.I felt cheated somehow.I wanted more revealing emotions.I want to write Mr White and ask him a million questions about Julian's motivation for his deception or his lack of explanations.Again, I know things in real life are not spelled out just as it was in this book and we should draw the obvious conclusions based on the few details and hints that were revealed to us.Julian would probably call me a spoiled lazy helpless American who has to be spoon-fed everything.

For those of you who would rather draw your own conclusions, connect your own dots and would consider it an insult to have to be spoon-fed the obvious will really devour The Married Man and the realistic story-telling of this exotic book.

On a pet-peeve side note:I really liked the hardback cover of the man and his dog.(It also relates to, and fits the overall mood of the story)I wish the cover art had not been changed on the paperback edition.

5-0 out of 5 stars Henry James with a homosexual twist
Austin Smith has picked the wrong century to be a furniture scholar and intellectual. He's pushing fifty, lacking direction, and his biggest claim to fame is hosting parties for the Parisian youth in his apartment on the Île St. Louis, or irritating PC maniac students of American universities. His largest commitment in life is to his former lover Peter, dying of AIDS.Until he meets younger married architect Julien, whose lack of known-last-name typifies his character. He is an enigma for much of the book, steadfast only in his devotion to his secrets and to Austin, to whom he says during an intimate pillow-talk session, "I chose you, Petit, and after that there were no other choices to make." The master of artifice who dislikes American big-toothed girls, Julien shows depth by telling Austin, when he discovers Austin's HIV status, "I'm going to stay with you. I'll take care of you...You're the way a man your age should look. I don't want a starved little queen." However, in an elaborate twist of irony, Julien develops AIDS and needs Austin's constant devotion.

Acclaimed award-winning writer Edmund White pens a deeply moving love story of two individuals with illusions about their own lives that create a real, solid and enduring love.

5-0 out of 5 stars a most beautiful book
I loved this book. I loved the writing, and read it very slowly to savor the language. How could it be that a story so ulitmately tragic, could be so rich and full of life? It dazzled me.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not What I Expected
I guess I looked for White to provide thought provoking insight into the older/younger gay relationship. I found the book dull and lacking any real direction. The characters were uninteresting and one demensional. The plot dragged on and on and never really went anywhere. I actually found myself skipping paragraphs trying to get to the point of the story. I apologize to anyone who might find this review offensive, but I didn't enjoy this book at all.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not really worth reading
Austin Smith is a middle-aged American writer, living in Paris, looking for new love from men. He meets Julien, a young married man...

I enjoyed reading 'A Boy's Own Story', written by this writer, which I rated very highly, and therefore I thought I would read another book by Edmund White. However, 'The Married Man' was a disappointing read.

'The Married Man' lacks much in the way of plot. Instead, its content depends mainly on the main character leading a not spectacularly unusual life, but travelling from place to new place and to new venues far too often, extravagantly, rather than working, so the writer can then describe in detail yet another set of new scenes and events and characters and yet more huge expenditure in the new place/venue. That method of creating a book, and the absence of much interesting plot besides, made the book tiresome after a while. I felt I was being made to read material that had being written simply in order to pad the book out unnecessarily.

The content itself becomes quite depressing in the second half of the book.

The style of writing, often with very long turgid sentences and over-complicated similes, suggests the book has been too overwritten ('A Boy's Own Story', in contrast, had a much more interesting, direct, snappy style of writing to it).

Frankly, the main characters aren't likeable (apart from Ajax).

This book was slow going to read, and not a pleasurable experience: more a grim slow turning of the pages, just to finish the thing off.

The writer hasn't really attempted any form of climax to the book, or even a good ending, either. He just lets the book tail off into nothingness after 310 pages.

Overall, this didn't seem to me to be a book worth reading, and I was sorry to have spent time going through it. ... Read more

9. Arts and Letters
by Edmund White
Paperback: 376 Pages (2006-09-19)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$9.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1573442488
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A dazzling collection of profiles and interviews by the preeminent American cultural essayist of our time.
In these 39 lively essays and profiles, best-selling novelist and biographer Edmund White draws on his wide reading and his sly good humor to illuminate some of the most influential writers, artists, and cultural icons of the past century: among them, Marcel Proust, Catherine Deneuve, George Eliot, Andy Warhol, André Gide, David Geffen, and Robert Mapplethorpe. Whether he’s praising Nabokov’s sensuality, or critiquing Elton John’s walk (“as though he’s a wind-up doll that’s been overwound and sent heading for the top of the stairs”), or describing serendipitous moments in his seven-year-long research into the life of Genet, White is unfailingly observant, erudite, and entertaining.
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Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars Edmond White talks about famous people he has known
A very literate book.Not for someone looking for a light read or an entertaining read.This is serious stuff.Probably best read by English teachers, etc.

4-0 out of 5 stars Open the door, open my mind.
White makes it seem so easy. Reading these essays-portraits, White's intimacy draws me close, as if his words were meant for me, alone. No artifice, no verbal gymnastics intrude on our relationship. White reveals his thoughts, illuminates his subjects, and directs my attention with an honest and serenely focused condor. He's clear, richly cultivated, but never shouts; he leads me into a realm of thought and understanding that inevitably opens his subjects with a casual yet critical deference for me to meet, greet, and ponder the relevance of their lives and art. He opens the door, and, therefore, opens my mind. After reading these essays, I search for the works he's introduced and am grateful.Reading this terrific book is like visiting with a buddy who's been a close, close friend for a very long time.

5-0 out of 5 stars An eminent man of letters
Who would have thought in the 1980s that the author of "States of Desire" would become this eminent man of letters? In this book, Edmund White shows us that he is not only a masterful writer, but also can exhibit great empathy for the subjects of his writing. I admit that I envy his polymath's command of every topic (and his ability to use words like "polymath" so casually). Perfect book if you're looking for a thoughtful, reflective read.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Treasure Trove
In Arts and Letters veteran novelist Edmund White shows again why he is one of the most inventive English language writers.It's a salmagundi of commissioned pieces and articles that originally appeared in a variety of slick and gay magazines.Taken them all together, and you get a lot of insight into White's own irresistible personality, even more so than in some of his celebrated autobiographical novels and memoirs.Plus, it's like being at the same party with some of the most intriguing personalities in the world today, as well as some dead immortals.White's style when he profiles these luminaries is never fawning--well maybe once or twice, but he does it so well you forgive him anything.He's fearless, and asks the people in question exactly the kind of questions you think you'd ask yourself, if you were there on the scene and you had balls of brass.Cleis Press is to be commended for bringing out this jumbo volume.I only wish there were more.

There's just enough of a selection of White's writing about art to make you wish he'd jump in and write a whole book about the art and artists he admires.It's hard to find anything new to say about (for example) Jasper Johns or Robert Mapplethorpe, but after reading White's articles on both you will be viewing their work with new eyes.And he provides wonderful introductions to artists whose profiles may not be quite as high as these guys--Rebecca Horn, perhaps, or Steve Wolfe.

One after another of these articles are stunners--there's a fine piece on the half-forgotten French New Novelist Alain Robbe-Grillet, which takes you back to the day in which he was regarded as a wunderkind of depthless talent, and then shows today why he is still a writer worth studying.

White is not always Mr. Goody Two Shoes either.In one case, the Ned Rorem profile, you watch in helpless delight as Rorem gets skewered on the high kebab spears of White's erudition and wit.I also thought that printing a brief review of James Baldwin's "Just Above My Head" and labeling it "James Baldwin" leads the reader to think JB will be getting the full-blown profile treatment and instead it rebounds and justakes the review seem skimpy.And in some cases the reader will disagree, perhaps violently, with White's assessment of this or that subject, and you will still feel he has won the right to deliver it.I don't believe for an instant that James Merrill is the equivalent of Cavalcanti crossed with Noel Coward, but it's amusing to hear someone say so.

By and large these essays are compelling, entertaining, and wise.It's a book that deserves all the praise it will doubtless receive. ... Read more

10. A Boy's Own Story: A Novel
by Edmund White
Paperback: 208 Pages (2009-02-24)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143114840
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Originally published in 1982 as the first of Edmund White's trilogy of autobiographical novels, A Boy's Own Story became an instant classic for its pioneering portrayal of homosexuality. The book's unnamed narrator, growing up during the 1950s, is beset by aloof parents, a cruel sister, and relentless mocking from his peers, compelling him to seek out works of art and literature as solace-and to uncover new relationships in the struggle to embrace his own sexuality. Lyrical and poignant, with powerful evocations of shame and yearning, this is an American literary treasure. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (35)

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting learning experience for an author
I read the book as a potential writer, trying to learn what makes a classic.I still don't know.The author was seemingly open about sexual matters, only to discover in his later writings in the trilogy that he left out some very important sexual experiences in the first book.On the other hand, his style seemed to me to be obscure and inconsistantat times, as if his writing voice was not jet set.Looking back on the experience, I'm not sure what I have taken away from having read it.At the age of 75 years, I finally learned what "corn hole" means, so I guess all was not lost.

1-0 out of 5 stars Over-Descriptive of Places than it's characters
This is the only book in my life of 40 yrs did I not complete finishes a book. I have to force myself to read it & had to have great endurance & patience too ! Finally, I had to give up reading at the last 30 pages of the book. The key reason being there's no in-depth plot of the characters. A new character just pop up every few pages & went off site. It's really frustrating thinking there will be some development of the characters but disappointing, none ! Never in my life did I not finish a book as I always respect the author's earnest work but unfortunately for this book, I SIMPLY CAN'T FINISH IT !!! Sad to say.............

3-0 out of 5 stars Fine Prose, Not My Cup of Tea
This is my very personal review of a well-respected book. White is a fine prose stylist. I read the book because it had been acclaimed as a gay rite of passage novel. I found large sections of the book to be dull and boring. The protagonist was a disagreeable brat who came from a privileged family. He was an exploitive user who had a self-absorbed selfish streak. The book's beginning, I think, is fairly interesting because it gives a social picture of an America of a certain era, (a white boy's relationship with black America for instance) and because his sexual encounter with Kevin is so well told.
It's a book about endless desires and craving for sexual fulfillment but not about consummation. The boy seems not to have any real understanding or feelings of love.
I think the book is pretentious. The boy doesn't mind committing acts of betrayal as long as he can satisfy his libido. Edmund White was born in 1940 so he grew up in a closeted time for gays, and the book was published in 1982 when some things for gays were beginning to change ever so slightly.
This book has become a Modern Library classic and perhaps it deserves that designation. I don't believe that the book transcends its gay niche shelving to become a rite of passage book for the American everyboy. (Not that I think any book could really do that.) I think this novel gets too mired in self pity and navel gazing. Harsh criticism for a classic? I calls `em as I react to them.

5-0 out of 5 stars Awakening Sexually
White, Edmund. "A Boy's Own Story", Penguin Reprint, 2009.

Awakening Sexually

Amos Lassen

"A Boy's Own Story" was originally published in 1982 and it immediately found its way into the gay canon. The story is told by an unnamed narrator who grew up in the 50's and as a homosexual had problems with acceptance. It is a beautifully told story and our hero is wonderfully developed. Edmund White writes literature and that is evident here. The plot is clear and solid and it is written as if each of us has experienced the same things as does our hero.
Remembering that this novel is set in the 50's when homosexuality was still considered a sickness; this is a different look at coming-out.
As out hero grapples with questions about his sexuality, he is forced to accept reality. He takes us into his life as he takes tiny steps out of the closet at a time when his sexuality was considered a taboo. We are with him during the highs and lows of self-awareness and self-doubt and on his journey of looking for love and acceptance. We share his joys and are hurt by his disappointments and through his coming out to others.
I read this book when it first was published and much of it is still with me today. White handles the theme of homosexuality with sensitivity and the themes are somewhat complex. I would not exactly call "A Boy's Own Story" a novel however; it is more of a series of autobiographical sketches. There is a theme but no overall storyline and with the exception of the narrator, there are no sustaining characters. This in no way hurts the book--it is a wonderful read. There is a lot of depth and excellent use of English prose.

4-0 out of 5 stars Lots of washing, less to hang out
A reviewer of A Boy's Own Story by Edmund White is presented with a number of problems, In the paraphrased words of one of the book's characters, there may be a lot in the wash, but eventually not much to hang out, and this, by the end of the book, largely summed up what it had delivered. Be reassured, however, that the process of reading A Boy's Own Story is a delight from start to finish. Edmund White's style is quite beautiful, full of complex allusions, superb characterisation and, above all, masterful description. Every character springs to life off the page. If only collectively or individually they had more to offer...

A Boy's Own Story is an adolescent's discovery and realisation of his own homosexuality. The book promises a lot of sex and, sure enough, it both begins and ends with explicit encounters. Throughout the remainder, however, the sex seems to be more in the mind than in the experience. It appears that Edmund White's adult recollection of his teenage dilemmas could have been subject to the embellishment of later reflection. Repeatedly the author stretches time to explore the detail of options whenever the boy of the title is presented with a dilemma. These were surely the voices of later years speaking through an ostensibly reconstructed, but surely imagined past. The boy always spoke eloquently about his choices, considered options in detail, but perhaps not convincingly. One of the more engaging aspects of coming of age sagas is how innocence is portrayed and how its conquest is engineered. In A Boy's Own Story one feels that Edmund White wants to deny that he was ever innocent, or at least suggest that he would ever admit it. And so a spark that could have lit up the glowing prose never quite ignited.

When the book first appeared over twenty years ago, the fact that it did appear in its explicit form, apparently denying the guilt that oozes off every page, might itself have been worthy of note. Twenty years on it now reads as merely dated, but still it reads beautifully thanks to the author's supreme skill with words and expression. The issues that might previously have rendered it remarkable have, however, long since cooled, so now the reader must approach the book either as it is, as an autobiography, or alternatively in historical terms. The book, however, cannot sustain the latter approach.

I will now certainly seek out other books by Edmund White, but in the case of A Boy's Own Story I am tempted to conclude that though writers have to be self-obsessed, when that neurosis is turned completely inward, it raises new barriers that can exclude the reader. Hence the gloss. Hence the sheen of the whiter than white washing that proves to be just half a load.
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11. My Lives: A Memoir (P.S.)
by Edmund White
Paperback: 384 Pages (2007-04-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$5.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B002VPE7EM
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No one has been more frank, lucid, and entertaining about growing up gay in Middle America than Edmund White. Best known for his autobiographical novels, starting with A Boy's Own Story, White here takes fiction out of his story and delivers the facts of his life in all their shocking and absorbing verity. In My Lives, White shares his enthusiasms and his passions, and he introduces us to his lovers and predilections.

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12. Genet: A Biography
by Edmund White
Paperback: 800 Pages (1994-10-04)
list price: US$26.95 -- used & new: US$17.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679754792
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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A meticulously researched biography of Jean Genet, one of France's most notorious writers. Acclaimed novelist and essayist Edmund White illuminates Genet's experiences in the worlds of crime, homosexuality, politics, and high culture, and gives a compelling analysis of Genet's plays, novels, and essays. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography.Amazon.com Review
The definitive biography of Jean Genet, theincomparable French novelist whose works echo with themes of violenthierarchies, rituals of power and powerlessness and human identitiesas roles to be traded and manipulated. From his birth in 1911 to hisadoption by foster parents and his tumultuous life as a runaway,thief, beggar and prostitute, Genet had remarkable powers ofself-transformation, ultimately turning the pain of his life intowritings that attracted the attention of literary trend-setter JeanCocteau. Genet's work covered an amazing amount of social,political and intellectual territory. By diving into that which wasawkward, ugly and painful, he emerged with the truth, transforminghimself and others with its beauty.White earned the 1993 National BookCritics Circle Award for Biography for this fine work. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars A View of Life through the "Outhouse slits."
Jean Genet was a precocious and complex human being at an early age, and knew it. He came into the world as a "ward of the state" and never ever learned to trust either his adopted overseers or the French society into which he had been remanded.

The epiphany in this, Edmund White's outstanding biography, that defined both Genet's artistic ability and his normal life came while sitting on the outhouse toilet at the age of eight, peeking out at the world between the slits. This smelly self-imposed cage, this moment of transcendental peace in the midst of an outer world of foulness became a metaphor for both Genet's artistic as well as his normal life. His life time of petty thefts, homosexuality, and repeated imprisonment, either self-imposed or not, became the incubator for his staccato like bursts of creativity.

The problem with Jean Genet is that he really never was able to (nor did he ever want to) negotiate the world just above his head, between the slits of the outhouse as it were. Oh, he understood normal French society all right? In fact, that was his problem; even from a birds-eye view from below, he "over-understood" it and thus wanted no part of the role it had assigned to him. The horizon for a "welfare brat" was limited and bracketed by pity and despair. Genet wanted no parts of that life; and thus he chose his own outlandish, rebellious counter-route.

His avoidance of the corrupt reality of normal French society, the so-called "real world of haute culture" in exchange for his own alternative reality: the naughty (almost debased) side of the societal street came natural and it seems to me, was a profoundly existential choice. It was a choice between existing as another "ascribed and imposed zombie," an "other" among the "normal living dead," or becoming "alive" under ones own powers as an independent free and radical human being.

Thus, Genet was always "fleeing from" everything, never "fleeing to" anything. He was fleeing away from a stifling world of proscribed nonsense to a world of random travels to sample exotic lands and cultures: often finding himself plopped down in the dead center of great excitement on the naughty sides of the street (the outhouse image again?). It was a charmed if an uncharted and an untidy if not an unclean life, one lived with gusto, and with maximum irresponsibility. It was a life with long periods of solitude and imprisonment interspersed with frenetic periods of creativity. It was a life in which he, never a committed ideologue, bumped into people and causes that resonated with his own.Somehow, he came to adopt them and was adopted by them. But life to Genet was always a random walk towards an unachievable freedom.

That is why Jean Genet lived his life richly like his pants were on fire. That is why since the age of fifteen he was in and out of reform schools and prisons, deserter, general societal incorrigible, and never once throughout his life had a fixed address even when his writings made him a wealthy man. And that is why he continuously thumbed his nose at the very thought of being tied down by any of society's normal conventions or orthodoxies. This is a heady biography worthy of the subject it portrays. Five Stars

5-0 out of 5 stars Exemplary portrait of a notoriously bad thief and a fascinatingly notorious writer
Edmund White is perhaps best known as a novelist but this biography of Jean Genet may well be his magnum opus. (And I find it astonishing that it seems to be out of print as of May 2007, since there is no other decent English biography of Genet available.) It's a monster of a book, but it's one of the more readable literary biographies that I've come across--not least because "literary" in Genet's case also means social and political and scandalous. Readers who have never read a word of Genet may question the need for perusing this book, but it was my introduction to the work and, as I work my way through Genet's prose, I appreciate difficult or seemingly unfathomable passages all the more because of White's memorable explication (although I can't share White's enthusiasm for the plays).

Genet's "rebellious" worldview--which often comes across as much a stage-managed affectation as a genuine philosophy--may be unattractive to those of a more traditional ethic (and I include myself among that group), but it's never boring. Much of Genet's writing depicts, glorifies, and justifies his careers as a thief, as an outsider, as an anarchist; he was also a notorious freeloader who forsook the attractions of materialism yet siphoned the wealth of others--and who sapped the remarkably patient generosity of his publishers).

Genet idealizes his years at Mettray (a colony for adolescent delinquents), his life as a thief (which ended in 1944, after he had completed two books and earned the approbation and support of Cocteau), and "the erotic charm of prison" (his many convictions for petty theft earned him sentences totaled nearly four years). And it's a good thing his writing is so remarkable: as White never tires of pointing out, Genet was a famously bad thief who spent so much time in prison because he was most adept at getting caught.

White covers far more than Genet's own life and work and lovers, however; this biography is also a decent introduction to the Parisian literary set that included such luminaries as Cocteau, Beauvoir, Duras, Giacometti, and Sartre. Since I was more interested in the literature, I had feared that the appeal of the biography would flag once I reached Genet's later years, after he had stopped writing and spent his time supporting various political causes (Algerian independence, pro-Palestinian movement, Black Panthers). But these chapters, too, were riveting and essential for an understanding both of his life's ethic and of his posthumously published "Prisoner of Love."

Overall, White makes a convincing case for Genet's importance, arguing "Genet and Celine are the most discussed twentieth-century French writers after Proust." I'm not sure I would go that far (Camus? Sartre? Beauvoir? Ionesco? Beckett? Gide?), although I suppose it depends on who's doing the "discussing." Nevertheless, White has certainly presented a solid case that Genet belongs in the top tier.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Companion to Genet's Writing
This is the most detailed study of Genet ever written - and it deffinately sheds some light on his character both in writing and in life. I refer to it constantly when I am reading his books. I wish there were biographies like this of some of my other favorite authors - without a doubt I am excited to read White's book about Proust.

5-0 out of 5 stars Gay rollercoster ride
Following the rags to riches life of Jean Genet is an interesting reliving of French literature and history. Edmund White is certainly capable of empathy and psychological understanding for Genet, unlike in his biographies if William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. Though White makes the mistake of trying to incorporate some Michel Foucault, the homoseuxal philosopher, into his own penal insights into Jean Genet, the works and the man. Other than that fact, this handsome book is one long guitar solo at the altar of Genet.

Most of Genet's life is well-known, and partly used as the subjects for his novels. Genet was an orphan, had foster parents, and went to reform school. He had a bunch of early gay relationships, and he stole a lot of books. In prison Genet wrote Our Lady of The Flowers, and later shows it to Jean Cocteau, who is pissed off because he didn't write a similiar work first.

Genet wrote five novels and a few plays around and during World War II. They books are originally published anonymously. The books become an overnight sensation. As Genet becomes old and bald, and when the flamboyant Cocteau becomes bored with him, heterosexual Sartre and multisexual Simone de Beauvoir, both sort of yuppies of their time, become enamoured with the idea of hanging out and slumming it with Genet, a real thief.

Sartre saw him as a good example of his existential philosophy, and wrote Saint Genet. This book of his life came out when Genet was in his mid-forties. Genet doesn't write very much during the last years of his life. He does become involved with the Black Panthers and Palestinians.

Genet lived in Tangiers with his young Kiki. He wrote a final book that was banned before his death in 1986.

Genet's life was one long homosexual rollercoster ride. Genet's long life is an achievement which White gives a literary form in this tribute and gentle biography. As far as literary biographies go, this one is up there with the biographies of Oscar Wilde, Sade, and Frank O'Hara.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece
Jean Genet wrote masterpieces,this autobiography is a masterpiece in itself ! ... Read more

13. Our Paris: Sketches from Memory
by Edmund White, Hubert Sorin
Hardcover: 160 Pages (2002-04)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$2.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060085924
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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What happens when one of our most celebrated writers combines talents with a French artist and architect to capture life in their Parisian neighborhood? The result is a lighthearted, gently satiric portrait of the heart of Paris -- including the Marais, Les Halles, the two islands in the Seine, and the Châtelet -- and the people who call it home. It is an enchantingly varied world, populated not only by dazzling literati and ultrachic couturiers and art dealers but also by poetic shopkeepers, grandmotherly prostitutes, and, ever underfoot, an irrepressible basset hound named Fred. The foibles and eccentricities of these sometimes outrageous, always memorable individuals are brought to life with unfailing wit and affection.

Below the surface of the sparkling humor in Our Paris, there is a tragic undercurrent. While Hubert Sorin was completing this work, he was nearing the end of his struggle with AIDS. The book is a tribute to the loving spirit with which the authors banished somberness and celebrated the pleasures of their life together.

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Customer Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars Tender, fun, and touching
Immensely readable, thoroughly enjoyable, and ultimately poignant. White puts it best in his bittersweet, fresh-wound of an afterword: "Despite the catty sound of this book, its name-dropping and archness, I hope at least a few readers will recognize that its subtext is love. Hubert loved me with unwavering devotion . . . I loved him, too, in my cold, stinting, confused way. I wanted to keep him alive as long as possible. This book gave us something to do while waiting for the end."

5-0 out of 5 stars If you can't go to Paris (or even if you can), read this book!
A delightful book about White and Sorin's life in Paris, with an inevitable undercurrent of sadness, because Sorin is dying. Yet his inability to practice his work as an architect led him to develop the "unique, exuberant drawing style" that illustrates this book.

Here you will meet all sorts of interesting people. The concierge, Madame Denise, and the coiffeuse who tries out all the latest hairstyles on her. Father Pierre Riches, the "kind and elegant" Catholic priest whose hair had been stroked by Cavafy and whose photograph had been taken by Mapplethorpe. Billy Boy, the jewelry designer with 16,000 Barbies (who, tiring of them, invents a doll called Mdvany, a trendy Parisienne who "will not have unlined skirts like certain dolls we could name . . .". PIerre Guyotat, who wrote in a "strange subvocal language of his own devising, one that omitted vowels among other unnecessary luxuries."

And the places in Paris! How nice to live above a bookstore, especially one that revels in the splendidly punny name, Mona Lisait. To write at the Café Beaubourg, where the waiters will be equally attentive to you and your dog, and where the "tabletops were all painted by celebrated French artists but not signed lest they be stolen." To wander the Marais with its delicatessens and seventeenth-century townhouses, its "Kiki Boys" and dogwalkers.

If you have visited Paris, this book will bring back memories.If you haven't, you may find yourself calling a travel agent!

5-0 out of 5 stars Parisian anecdotes told with American-style intimacy
I picked up this little book for a return flight from Paris to LA.It looked like perfect plane reading -- short, gossipy, topical.And although it lived up to each of those expectations, the devastation implicit in the book (and explicit at the end) hit hard.The book is not easily forgettable -- and probably no less memorable for the passengers and crew of American Airlines flight 45 who watched me become a sniffling, tear-stained disaster.

It's very intimate, shockingly un-French.White and Sorin invite you into their lives.You feel as if you're at a dinner party listening to them recount(even bicker a little about) their recent mundane adventures.But this intimacy also means that you feel very close to the heartbreaking loss that is the real subject of the book.

It's a beautiful, touching book.The illustrations complement the text (or the text complements the illustrations) perfectly.But if you want to avoid the mess entirely, try The Flaneur.

4-0 out of 5 stars Grand Deception
I love deceptive books.

Example: _Our Paris_, by Edmund White and Hubert Sorin, is ostensibly a series of short essays, written and illustrated in a fairly direct style, pertaining to life in the city.But in a stunning, disarming preface, White alerts us to the real subtext: his partner's slowdeath from AIDS.It's this subtext that transforms the book from apleasant travelogue to a devastating account of loss.

Lurking beneath thebook's shimmering surfaces, and within its numerous lacunae, is theemotional life of a couple threatened by the fast-approaching specter ofdeath.An attentive reading of White's text and Hubert Sorin'sillustrations reveals the mauvaise foi, the daily negotiations, theimplicit contract of domestic denial that enables an endangered couple tokeep death at bay for just a little longer.

_Our Paris_ looks slight, asif it were merely a pleasant evening's worth of travel anecdotes andgossip.But if you take yourself into this book's confidence, it willreveal unexpected secrets.

5-0 out of 5 stars Paris, the French, love, and travel -- and eventual loss.
This is a sweet collection of short pieces, quirky and personal, about a tiny Parisian neighborhood,Paris itself, the French, lots of friends, and a great dog named Fred. Most of all: about Edmund White and his lover Hubert Sorin. Economical yet enjoyably gossipy, kind-hearted, opinionated, informative. Achingly sad, though, because Hubert is dying of AIDS, and in fact does die at the book's end. Definitely worth reading -- especially for fans of Edmund White. Engagingly illustrated by Sorin, who was trained in architecture and took up drawing when he became ill. ... Read more

14. Caracole
by Edmund White
Kindle Edition: 352 Pages (2010-08-28)
list price: US$15.00
Asin: B00413QAKQ
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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In French caracole means "prancing"; in English, "caper." Both words perfectly describe this high-spirited erotic adventure. In Caracole, White invents an entire world where country gentry languish in decaying mansions and foppish intellectuals exchange lovers and gossip in an occupied city that resembles both Paris under the Nazis and 1980s New York. To that city comes Gabriel, an awkward boy from the provinces whose social naïveté and sexual ardor make him endlessly attractive to a variety of patrons and paramours.

"A seduction through language, a masque without masks, Caracole brings back to startling life a dormant strain in serious American writing: the idea of the romantic."--Cynthia Ozick ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

1-0 out of 5 stars Prancing is right
This so called "world" is almost incomprehensible. The characters have no characterization, the plot no direction, the story unreadable. I couldn't get beyond the first chapter. And even that was a chore.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Hypnotic Feast of Words and Images
Of Edmund White's novels, Caracole may be the most accessible to the reading public at large. It has a clear and impressive plot and a set of characters as arresting as Dickens'. But as in every White novel, the wordsand the images they create are foremost.

The author deserves thereader's closest attention. White is the consummate master of language.Much of the imagery is exotic, dreamlike and even nightmarish. Every senseis evoked with startling specificity. You need no cyber-gadgets toexperience virtual reality if you absorb this book and let it unfold inyour imagination.

White commands the broad range of moods, shifting themwith disturbing abruptness or lingering within one to delve into itsdeepest recesses.Most strikingly conveyed are the wonders, terrors,mysteries and curiosities of youth, the overpowering initiations of bodyand mind that shatter the realm of childhood. White invents a vocabularyfor the inarticulate that is all the more powerful for its metaphoricalexactness.

Unlike White's other novels, Caracole is not a first-personnarrative. By using the omniscient third person, White is able to probedeeper into the interiors of his characters. This device also allows himmore scope for apt epigrammatic observations, particularly about youth,middle age and the relations across that divide.

Those who appreciate thepower of the word should experience Caracole and indeed all of White'snovels.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Vivid and Sensual Experience
It has taken me two months to read Caracole. It deserves every minute. The book deserves the reader¹s closest attention. White is the consummate master of language. Much of the imagery is exotic, dreamlike and even nightmarish. Every sense is evoked with startling specificity. You need nocyber-gadgets to experience virtual reality if you absorb this book and letit unfold in your imagination.Of Edmund White¹s novels, Caracole may be themost accessible to the reading public at large. It has a clear andimpressive plot and a set of characters as arresting as Dickens¹. But as inevery White novel, the words and the images they create are foremost. Thelanguage is hypnotic in its power. White commands the broad range of moods,shifting them with disturbing abruptness or lingering within one to delveinto its deepest recesses.Most strikingly conveyed are the wonders,terrors, mysteries and curiosities of youth, the overpowering initiationsof body and mind that shatter the realm of childhood. White invents avocabulary for the inarticulate that is all the more powerful for itsmetaphorical exactness.Unlike White¹s other novels, Caracole is not afirst-person narrative. By using the omniscient third person, White is ableto probe deeper into the interiors of his characters. This device alsoallows him more scope for apt epigrammatic observations, particularly aboutyouth, middle age and the relations across that divide. Caracole has beencalled White¹s "cross-over" novel. The characters areheterosexual and the plot evolves in large part out of the consequences oftheir appetites. White describes the female body and the male and femaleexperience as exquisitely as any writer of his stature. Reading Caracoleafter having read The Farewell Symphony, the last novel of hisautobiographical trilogy, however, gives one an entirely differentperspective. Some situations and characterizations are virtually identicalin each novel though appropriately translated in time, place and gender.This juxtaposition enhances Caracole¹s intrinsic humor and correspondinglydeepens its pathos. It also underscores our common humanity, regardless ofour orientations.Those who appreciate the power of the word shouldexperience Caracole and try all of Edmund White¹s novels.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece of Words and Images
Of Edmund White1s novels, Caracole may be the most accessible to the reading public at large. It has a clear and impressive plot and a set ofcharacters as arresting as Dickens. But as in every White novel, the wordsand the images they create are foremost. I cannot do better than to quoteCynthia Ozick in calling his technique "seduction throughlanguage." It has taken me two months to read Caracole. It deservesevery minute. The author deserves the reader's closest attention. White isthe consummate master of language. Much of the imagery is exotic, dreamlikeand even nightmarish. Every sense is evoked with startling specificity. Youneed no cyber-gadgets to experience virtual reality if you absorb this bookand let it unfold in your imagination.White commands the broad range ofmoods, shifting them with disturbing abruptness or lingering within one todelve into its deepest recesses.Most strikingly conveyed are the wonders,terrors, mysteries and curiosities of youth, the overpowering initiationsof body and mind that shatter the realm of childhood. White invents avocabulary for the inarticulate that is all the more powerful for itsmetaphorical exactness.Unlike White's other novels, Caracole is not afirst-person narrative. By using the omniscient third person, White is ableto probe deeper into the interiors of his characters. This device alsoallows him more scope for apt epigrammatic observations, particularly aboutyouth, middle age and the relations across that divide. Caracole has beencalled White's "cross-over" novel. The characters areheterosexual and the plot evolves in large part out of the consequences oftheir appetites. White describes the female body and the male and femaleexperience of straight sex as exquisitely as any writer of his stature.Reading Caracole after having read The Farewell Symphony, the last novel ofhis autobiographical trilogy, however, gives one a different perspective.Some situations and characterizations are virtually identical in each novelthough appropriately translated in time, place and gender. Thisjuxtaposition enhances Caracole's intrinsic humor and correspondinglydeepens its pathos. It also underscores our common humanity, regardless ofour sexual orientations.I have had the intoxicating adventure of readingall of Edmund White's novels in the past twelve months. (My next stop ishis collection of essays and interviews, The Burning Library).Those whoappreciate the power of the word should experience Caracole and indeed allof White's novels. ... Read more

15. Skinned Alive: Stories
by Edmund White
 Kindle Edition: 288 Pages (2010-08-28)
list price: US$15.95
Asin: B00413QAFQ
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The eight stories in this erotic and heartbreaking collection are barometers of difference. They measure the distance between an American expatriate and the Frenchman who tutors him in table manners and rough sex; the gulf between a man dying of AIDS and his uncomprehending relatives. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Stories of great joy
I don't feel that these stories are riddled with "pertention" like others have said.As a matter of fact, it is the frankness of White's writing that gives his characters the ability to be both relatable and divine.His descriptions of Greece and Texas create a world so striking in your mind that you want to give him the Oscar for Best Cinamatography despite the fact that this is a book and not a movie.
Amazing stories about life, love, and rejection from both.If you have read one of his novels (which you should do first) and enjoyed them then you will be able to read these with great pleasure.

5-0 out of 5 stars Rediscovering treasures
Edmund White's published output seems to grow yearly.This multi-talented writer has added scholarly biographies, shared research, and new novels to his resume since publishing this book of short stories SKINNED ALIVE in 1995. And it is because of this expansion of his scope of writing that it is refreshing to make this mini-retrospective excursion into White's gifts.

Some will argue that his stories are too self centered, that his Francophilia gets in the way visually and textually.The stories is this collection are not at all limited to his expatriate status - our own American In Paris.The spectrum described by his characters is much more than that.White is not afraid to mix his own history with that of his characters and in doing so he validates what might otherwise seem like far-fetched tales."My Oracle" is a simple story about an aging HIV exposed man taking a trip to Crete and how he rediscovers passion and being alive - a state all but discarded by his ruminating on the terminal drought of his experiences at home. Here is a buffed middle aged male longing for resurrection and he finds it in the simplest way.His other stories ask us to glimpse mortality and vanity and make some sense of it. White has some difficulty ending a short story; we're left with a feeling of lack of resolution.But maybe that is part of this superb writer's talent."You, dear reader, finish the thought".This is a collection that deserves revisiting on a regular basis, when life changes rise in your path.

2-0 out of 5 stars A little pretention goes a long ways
This is my first book by Edmund White and probably my last.His stories are marginally entertaining & I suppose the they succeed on some level, but they so strewn with French phrases that can only be known by a Frenchspeaker or a Francophile that one begins to wonder who Edmund is trying toimpress?The same goes for his conquests, always trying to impress withhis prowess and his internationalism.In short, if you can stomachpretention at a party you may be able to stomach this.I can't, there aretoo many good things to read. ... Read more

16. Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel
by Edmund White
Paperback: 208 Pages (2009-08-01)
-- used & new: US$8.69
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1843549727
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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This book features renowned author and critic Edmund White on Arthur Rimbaud, notorious rebel, poet and lover of Verlaine. Poet and prodigy Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891) died young but his extraordinary poetry continues to influence and inspire - fans include Dylan, Jim Morrison, Patti Smith. His long poem "Un Saison en Enfer" and his collection "Illuminations" are central to the modern canon. Having sworn off writing at the age of twenty-one, Rimbaud drifted around the world from scheme to scheme, ultimately dying from an infection contracted while gun-running in Africa. He was thirty-seven. Distinguished biographer, novelist, and memoirist Edmund White brilliantly explores the young poet's relationships with his family and his teachers, as well as his notorious affair with the older and more established poet Paul Verlaine. He reveals the longing for a utopian life of the future and the sexual taboos that haunt Rimbaud's works, offering incisive interpretations of the poems and his own artful translations to bring us closer to this great and mercurial poet. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

4-0 out of 5 stars Rimbaud, eternally interesting.
I recently read Edmund White's biography of French poet Arthur Rimbaud. I bought the book partly because of its cover : the picture of Rimbaud's portrait done by Henri Fantin-Latour. Over the last decades, I had read a few books on Rimbaud who had such a fascinating life and death (I am French speaking and studied French literature).

Mr White's biography is very pleasant to read. I enjoyed it and it led me to read Rimabaud's Lettres du Harar and another book I have : « Somebody Else », an account of his years in Africa.

I recommand Edmund White's oeuvre without hesitation. Claude Simard

2-0 out of 5 stars Slim and Unimpressing
This slim volume left me completely lost. My basic problem is in deciding who should be its audience.
If you are in love with Rimbaud you should simply stay away from this book. White does not offer anything you have not heard before - major difference from academic biographies is that he seldom indicates his authorities but for some it may be a plus: there are no boring footnotes.
If White is fascinated with Rimbaud he fails to convey this fascination completely. The quality of translations he included is rather doubtful - unless you have a penchant for a vista translations which have little ambition beyond grasping the meaning precisely leaving the form aside (or to be described separately).
If you are in love with White... Well... Hasn't he published a novel recently? Read it instead.
My impressions were eerily similar to those White's Proust left me with - both books could be summed up in the following manner: nothing much happens, nothing much happens, he writes something which when summed up sounds quite trivial, nothing much happens, he dies, some people whose names may ring a bell remember him afterwards, thank you all dear. Plus a bibliography which fails to provide basic data for further research (as if White was painfully aware of the fact that his presentation of the subject matter can hardly make anyone interested in any further research...) in which my favourite part was "most of these books are out of print anyway" - have you ever heard of libraries, honey?
Just one example of originality. White goes on for a while trying to decide the issue of copulation - suggesting that Rimbaud was a top only to conclude some pages further that it is just as possible that they did not practice penetration at all. Charming but if we are talking about Verlaine and Rimbaud it is perfectly clear who was the dominating force when they started writing. What they did in bed is of secondary interest as our data is slim if not outright nonexistent.
If you have never heard of Rimbaud before and your French is not exactly up for the task the only useful part is the end of bibliography when White lists English translation of his poems. If you also fell under the spell of this noisy adolescent from the Ardeness, there are decent biographies of him to be found quite easily. This one comes short both as entertainment and as scholarship so don't bother.

3-0 out of 5 stars More of an overview
This is a well-written, interesting and fun book for anyone who is interested in Rimbaud. However it is more of an overview of his life not an in-depth study like some of the other bios out there. If you have any knowledge of Rimbaud I would suggest going for a different book but for a first timer to Rimbaud it is an excellent introduction.

4-0 out of 5 stars A DIVIDED LIFE
The Starkie and Fowlie biographies were my introduction to Rimbaud's life. As scholastic in tone as those two were, Edmund White seems determined to make the leap to a more conversational, anecdotal overview. Not critical in tone - he lets the work speak for itself - nor overly technical, White's own writing seems at times clumsy and repetitive, rarely hitting the smooth and dazzling pace and associative depth of his subject. The overall effect of this very concise book is one of making the complex comings and goings of Rimbaud more approachable and graspable, less an academic reading experience than an empathetic one: "Pity the wood that finds itself a violin".

What are we to make of such a life? Rather than a "double life", it seems to me Rimbaud deliberately and consciously divided himself from the rest of the world, as well as from the main body of literature. Of course, too often, the rebellious element of artistic movements are simply reactionary: standing against the entrenched as much as for (one of perhaps many) alternatives. Rimbaud's talent transcends simple opposition, but his choices in life clearly took him to a more radical point, one removed from even the need of art.

Still, there lingers a sense of disbelief that any person with such a gift could literally walk away from writing, or that any creative artist could or would set aside the arts for a "regular" life. Personally, I don't find it so hard to accept.The creative life is an often demanding and thankless one. If the artist is an honest critic of his own work, then his own work - no matter how well judged by peers or history - can offer a subjective wealth of disappointment and frustration, regardless of the presence or absence of commercial success. And, often enough, success can simply demand that the artist, now answerable to a market, simply continue to issue redundant, bankrupt artefacts. More so for Rimbaud than virtually any other artist, the second act of his working life seemed capable of breaking the spell of his own writing, demonstrating that the seemingly unknowable aspects of life, those he tried to attain by deranging his senses, could make themselves known in many and terrifying ways, completely free of the artifice of art.

4-0 out of 5 stars The short unhappy life of Arthur Rimbaud
The brevity of White's RIMBAUD: THE DOUBLE LIFE OF A REBEL only increases one's amazement at the bizarreness of the way poet-adventurer-businessman Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891) chose to live his life, the hardships he endured, and the magnitude of his accomplishment as a poet (his "mature" work being written between the ages of 17 and 21). White, a scholar of French literature who teaches at Princeton, seems to have a good sense of the best biographical and critical sources available in French and English. His translations of Rimbaud's poems and letters for the most part seem good, though I found myself wondering whether the French word "negre" is best translated with the derogatory term in English as White does in several places. White does a good job of tracing and debunking a couple of the myths that continue to work their way into Rimbaud biographies, such as Enid Starkie's claim that Rimbaud was raped by Prussian soldiers as a teenager and claims by others that Rimbaud participated in slave trading during his time in Africa. The book has a helpful bibliographic essay but, sadly, no index. ... Read more

17. Marcel Proust: A Life (Penguin Lives)
by Edmund White
Paperback: 176 Pages (2009-02-24)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143114980
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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If there is anyone worthy of producing an intimate biography of the enigmatic genius behind Remembrance of Things Past, it is Edmund White, himself an award- winning writer for whom Marcel Proust has long been an obsession. White introduces us not only to the recluse endlessly rewriting his one massive work through the night, but also the darling of Parisian salons, the grasper after honors, and the closeted homosexual-a subject this book is the first to explore openly. From the frothiest gossip to the deepest angst, here is a moving portrait to be treasured by anyone looking for an introduction to this literary icon.Amazon.com Review
Marcel Proust documented his existence so lavishly--albeit in fictionalform--that many of his biographers have functioned as little more thancode-breakers, doggedly translating art back into life. It's a greatpleasure, then, to welcome Edmund White's slender, superbly artful account.A novelist himself (as well as a biographer of Jean Genet), White beautifullyevokes "the France of heavy, tasteless furniture, of engraved portraits ofPrince Eugene, of clocks kept under a glass bell on the mantelpiece, ofoverstuffed chairs covered with antimacassars and of brass beds warmed byhot-water bottles." And he's no less canny at summoning up Proust'spersonality, in all its neurotic, contradictory glory.

Of course, Proust's life can't truly be separated from his art. Everybiography of him is bound to operate in the shadow of Remembrance of ThingsPast, and White has some shrewd things to say about that mammothwork, whose style he describes as "an ether in which all the charactersrevolve like well-regulated heavenly bodies." Yet the focus remains onProust and on his unlikely transformation from momma's boy to socialclimber to world-class genius. Like his subject, White often proceeds byanecdote. His book is packed with telling, hilarious little nuggets, whichfind Proust being snubbed by that "powdered, perfumed, puffy Irish giant"Oscar Wilde or luring back his lover Alfred Agostinelli by buying him anairplane.

At the same time, White conveys the considerable pain that Proust enduredas an invalid, an artist, and (more to the point) a closeted homosexual. Nodoubt these factors shaped his rather hopeless take on human affections,which impoverished his life even as they enriched his writing. "Proust maybe telling us that love is a chimera," White writes, "a projection of richfantasies onto an indifferent, certainly mysterious surface, butnevertheless these fantasies are undeniably beautiful, intimations ofparadise--the artificial paradise of art." In White's view, this recognitionmakes his subject not only a supreme poet of impermanence but thegreatest novelist of the century. Here, of course, it's possible toquibble. But the world would be an emptier place indeed without Proust'smighty masterpiece--and readers curious about its brilliant, bedriddencreator should start with White's witty and exquisite portrait. --JamesMarcus ... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

4-0 out of 5 stars A witty, original, opinionated, and useful introduction to "In Search of Lost Time"
Clever, witty, and elegantly written, Edmund White's sketch of Proust's life will not satisfy--and is not meant to satisfy--those readers looking for a full-scale literary biography. (Then again, what were you expecting from a 150-page book?) Instead, this slim and tidy chapbook is a valuable introduction to Proust's seven-volume bildungsroman and will almost certainly allow readers to appreciate even more the wonders of "In Search of Lost Time." Briefly describing Proust's life and times, his family and friends, his literary predecessors, and the work's textual history, White's summary has just enough material to motivate readers to move on to the novel itself.

Perhaps unsurprisingly for an iconic gay author like White, the volume focuses on the open secret of Proust's sexuality, how this duality influenced his writing, and how Proust "inverted"--if you'll excuse the pun--certain characters by borrowing real-life friends (many of whom White identifies) and making them women rather than men in his novel. In the affair between Swann and Odette, for example, White sees echoes of "the alternating bouts of jealousy and reconciliation" between Proust and his lover Reynaldo Hahn; likewise, "a little bevy of handsome youths" whom Proust met on the beach became the gang of girls in the second volume. Some critics have criticized this emphasis on Proust's homosexuality as a misplaced, modern obsession, but I think it's a revealing perspective. His masterpiece is, after all, largely preoccupied with sexual relations, and it's hardly inappropriate to highlight people who are transposed from life's stage to the pages of a book--especially one as autobiographical as Proust's.

Having recently begun the third volume of "In Search of Lost Time," I regret that I had not read White's biographical outline first. Once I finished the book, I went back to the first two volumes and re-read passages I had missed or misunderstood the first time around. I think I would have understood and enjoyed the first two volumes even more, and this is true even in those occasional instances where I'm not sure I agree with White's interpretations--starting with his claim that "Proust's fame and prestige have eclipsed those" of writers such as Joyce, Woolf, and Faulkner. (Really, does literature have to be a competitive sport?) This little "life" provides just enough background and analysis to encourage rather than predispose Proust's modern-day readers.

4-0 out of 5 stars It's a Dandy
Having read Mr. White's biography numerous times, I find it to be an excellent portrayal of, arguably, the greatest novelist of the 20th century.The reason I have read it several times is because I keep going back to it after each volume of IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME.It is immensely readable and, as is the case with all of the Penguin series, short in length and long on insight.Edmund White, a gay man himself, has been accused of spending too much time and effort in discussing Proust's sexuality.I didn't find that to be the case.One can understand how the subject's (homo)sexuality became a platform for much of the writing and is reflected in several of the characterizations throughout the books.Who can say whether this was due to his sexual orientation or whatever literary acrobatics he would perform to suppress it.In any event, one will come away with a greater knowledge of Proust and his writings.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent brief biographyof Proust
Although there is no shortage of books on Proust in English, and no shortage of enormously long biographies, there is a surprising lack of short biographies.Luckily, this excellent little volume by Edmund White fills a major need.While we have major long biographies like those of Painter, Tadie, and Carter, these may not be appropriate for someone wanting a brief overview.The trick with any biography of Proust is striking a balance between writing about Proust's life and Proust's art, not an easy task given the degree with which Proust based his work on events in his own life.It is virtually impossible to disentangle the two.

This is a short book (around 150 pages), but in that brief span, White is able to touch on all the major events of Proust's life, the key relationships of his life, the major themes of his work as an author, and the ways in which Proust's life became the basis for his work.If one is unfamiliar with Proust before picking up this book, one will gain a first rate overview of him before setting it down.One thing that tremendously enhances the value of the book is an excellent annotated biography that gives a great overview of work on Proust both in English and French.

White, who is a well known gay author, does a superb job writing about the myriad of contradictions in Proust's own work as a lightly closeted gay author.Although Proust's being gay is the worst kept secret of the century, Proust fought many duels over accusations that he was homosexual (or, an invert, as Proust would have put it).Proust was the first writer to write extensively about homosexuality, both male and female, but maintained a façade of heterosexuality to those who did not know him well.

All in all, this is an excellent brief biography of the man many regard as the great novelist of the 20th century.I heartily recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about Proust.

3-0 out of 5 stars SHORT BUT SWEET
This is another in the series of Penguin Lives which attempts to give a biography of a famous figure in a short but well written book. This one on Proust is written by the well-known author of such books as Forgetting Elena and other acclaimed works of his own. In a lot of the Penguin Lives, the editors tried to commission another writer who had a lot in common with their subject. White is also a homosexual writer whose works have been vastly acclaimed and this gives him a "supposed" insight into Proust that other biographers have purposefully ignored.

The entire life of Proust is hit on very efficently from his earliest years to his death. I liked the shortness of the book. I mean, I was interested in his life but not THAT interested to read a 500 page book about it. This short work was just right for the average interested reader. It was also written very well and enlightened me about many things about his life. For example, I always knew that he had become a recluse at the end of his life but never knew it was because of asthma.

Something negative about the book was that time and again White seems to believe that there was no seperation from Proust's real life and that of his characters. He uses quotes from his novel to comment on his private life which in all authors never quite works. A novel is really not a true relation of a person's life. What really is? Everything is illusion or perception. Another thing that White does is try to put forth the proposition that Proust's homosexuality defined the whole inner cosm of his soul. I mean is Paul Auster or Chuck Pahlaniuk's soul simply filled with being heterosexual.
White seems to belittle Proust's life and his work by trying to accent his sexual preference at the expense of offering new insights into his personal character or novel. I feel that White had a secret agenda, or rather an UNsecret agenda alongside this book. Still, it is entertaining and worth a look if you just want a short look at the life of one of the greatest novelists of all time.

4-0 out of 5 stars Making the Enormous Manageable
This is not a deep study on the great French writer's work, nor is it meant to be. However, it is a slim, fascinating and surprisingly penetrating insight into the life and writing of Proust. This tale is consciously told from White's perspective touching on issues and aspects about Proust's life he is interested in. This includes the way the world perceives Proust & interprets his work, how his homosexual status effected his work and public persona, the interaction between his writing & life and citing the most interesting work that has been done preceding Proust's life. It follows the basic time line of Proust's life and is related in a gossipy though highly intelligent fashion. The most interesting aspect of the book is the way it examines the way he is able to historically place the opinion of homosexuality at the time with other writers and the politics of the time and explain how it effected Proust's life. It relates how his life was really guided by a need for love and approval and how this was reflected in his relationships with his mother & lovers and filtered into his writing. The border between fictionalization and wishful thinking is finely tread in Proust's work because of this. White also gives an interesting insight into the way Proust worked as a craftsman playing with and mixing the genres of novel and the essay. Though this book touches on many interesting academic issues such as this, it is a very entertaining read and can be read easily by anyone who is a large fan of Proust's work or a complete novice. It is admirable White is able to touch on aspects of the writer's life that have not be ever deeply explored before. ... Read more

18. The Flaneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris
by Edmund White
Hardcover: 211 Pages (2001-03-21)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$9.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1582341354
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Bloomsbury is proud to announce the first title in an occasional series in which some of the world's finest novelists reveal the secrets of the city they know best. These beautifully produced, pocket-sized books will provide exactly what is missing in ordinary travel guides: insights and imagination that lead the reader into those parts of a city no other guide can reach.

A flaneur is a stroller, a loiterer, someone who ambles through a city without apparent purpose but is secretly attuned to the history of the place and in covert search of adventure, esthetic or erotic.Edmund White, who lived in Paris for sixteen years, wanders through the streets and avenues and along the quays, taking us into parts of Paris virtually unknown to visitors and indeed to many Parisians.Entering the Marais evokes the history of Jews in France, just as a visit to the Haynes Grill recalls the presence-festive, troubled-of black Americans in Paris for a century and a half.Gays, Decadents, even Royalists past and present are all subjected to the flaneur's scrutiny.

Edmund White's The Flaneur is opinionated, personal, subjective.As he conducts us through the bookshops and boutiques, past the monuments and palaces, filling us in on the gossip and background of each site, he allows us to see through the blank walls and past the proud edifices and to glimpse the inner, human drama.Along the way he recounts everything from the latest debates among French law-makers to the juicy details of Colette's life in the Palais Royal, even summoning up the hothouse atmosphere of Gustave Moreau's atelier.
Amazon.com Review
If a place is best known by its particulars, then Edmund White is an expert on Paris. Fortunately, he's generous with his secrets: he reveals a Paris not found in any other guide in this first book in the Writer and the City series. White's Paris is seen on foot, as a flâneur, a strollerwho aimlessly loses himself in a crowd, going wherever curiosity leads him and collecting impressions along the way. Paris is the perfect city for theflâneur, as every quartier is beautiful and full of rich and surprising delights. But this is no typical tour of monuments and museums; it is much more intimate and surprising. As a flâneur of Paris for 16 years,White knows where to find the very best of everything--silver, sheets, plumslivovitz. He can tell you where to get Tex-Mex surrounded by a dancerehearsal hall, where to rent an entire castle for a party, or even where to getSkippy peanut butter. He eschews the pearl-gray city built by Napoleon androams the places where the real vitality lives, the teaming quartiersinhabited by Arabs and Asians and Africans, the strange corners, themarkets where you can find absolutely anything in this city that accommodates all tastes. White's Paris is a place rich in history with a passion for novelty and distractions. So a walk through the Jewish ghetto leads to the history of the little-known Musée Nissim de Camondo, with its impressive collection of Louis XV and Louis XVI furniture, created by a family of Jewish bankers ultimately killed in the Holocaust. White shares other favorite and obscure museums, such as the Hôtel du Lauzun, where writers like Balzac and Charles Baudelaire and the painter Edouard Manet met for long evenings of music and hashish-induced hallucinations. Reminiscences in Montmartre reach back to the thriving jazz culture created by African Americans in the years between the world wars and include stories about Josephine Baker, Richard Wright, and James Baldwin. While White may ignore Notre Dame, he has fascinating tidbits to share about kings and queens and their heirs who still fight for the throne. The variety of Paris, White remarks, is matched by the voraciousness and passion of its people. With his own remarkable flair, he reveals a thriving and alluring city where tourists rarely tread. --Lesley Reed ... Read more

Customer Reviews (30)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Flaneur by Edmund White
White is one of the great voices of a generation of gay men who came of age in the late '60s & 1970s, but that should not define who he is as an author & "The Flaneur" quite elegantly & simply proves that.Even if you are not familiar with Paris, the path he charts is one of unexpected discovery, unearthed secrets & compelling stories, each one unique & yet they unify the view of Paris he wishes to convey.For me, one of the unexpected surprises was his appendix & the list of books that he has read that contributed to his knowledge of Paris.A must-have reading list for any Francophile.

4-0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful view of the Paris and the French
Edmund White describes his very personal reflections on his experiences in the backstreets of Paris, as well as ruminating on his experience as a flaneur, or one who follows the crowd as chance will lead.
You can compare White's reflections to an 20th century American socialogists view of the French by reading Mary Ann Caws French Ways and Their Meaning (available for free from [...]). Both books offer reflections on personal experiences that give insight into the sources of "Frenchness" as well as examples of historical social science writing. Further comparison of White's unconventional view of Paris can be found in Debra Ollivier's two recent essays that tell her American experience, not as flaneur but as contemporary wife and mother in France: "Entre Nous" and "What French Women Know". If you really want to understand the new fascination with "french-ness", then delve further into the grand history of Coco Chanel in "The Gospel According to CoCo Chanel" by Karen Karbo. This very readable history of Chanel's life story will tell you how Chanel changed the world through women's fashion, the complications of being a European woman during WWII, and the enduring character of this French icon.

4-0 out of 5 stars "Worth the purchase price"
I've read and appreciated most of White's work and I'm planning a trip to Paris in the next month. So I bought this book for some of his insights about the city and hopefully to come up with some ideas of things to do outside the normal tourist routine.I've not been disappointed, and, thanks to White, I'll be visiting Nissim de Camondo, Gustav Moreau, and the Expiatory Chapel.You can look them up!

5-0 out of 5 stars The Flaneur - a must to have in Paris
On my next trip to Paris I will definitely take The Flaneur with me to guide and direct me to all the marvelous sites and quartiers White wrote about.
It will be a great pleasure to visit all these places and visualize the people, their lives, their stories as he so interestingly wrote about.
A great book. my bible when in Paris.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not the forest but some of the trees
It's important to note that the books in the "Writer and the City" series, of which "The Flaneur" was the first, are not meant as travel guides. Though the reader will probably come away from these pages with a list of sights to see and locations to visit, that's not really the point. Instead, Edmund White takes the aimless and wandering style of the Parisian "flaneur" as his model for a somewhat ambling (if not quite rambling) collection of essays on the city and the outsiders it has attracted over the centuries.

Nearly all the chapters had some interest for me. White's look at the African and Arab communities in Paris, and his observation (repeated from a cocktail party *mot* as I recall) that the average Parisian is no longer white, was noteworthy in light of the "civil unrest" in the *banlieues* in 2005. The chapter on Jews in Paris over the centuries was well-researched and depressing (especially the story of the death of the Camondo family and the recounting of the well-known Dreyfus affair). The chapter on African-American writers and musicians in Paris was particularly interesting. On the other hand, I never connected with his quite autobiographical section on Paris's homosexual community and the hows-and-wheres of cruising. I knew when I picked up this book that Edmund White makes no secret of his sexuality, and how he chooses to live his life and practice his art are no business of mine. I'm not objecting to the inclusion of the chapter the way some other reviewers seem to be. But I will say that as a reader, that chapter really dragged (no pun intended) for me.

White also discusses museums, monarchists, the art trade, the French idea of sidewalk-as-stage versus the American one of sidewalk-as-backstage, Colette, and quite a lot more. I feel now like I've gained many new impressions of Paris, as a flaneur might, but still don't really know the city much better. That makes this an interesting read, but somehow, an oddly incomplete one. ... Read more

19. Marcel Proust (P)
by Edmund White
 Hardcover: Pages (1999)

Asin: B000OLFJ88
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

20. The Burning Library: Essays
by Edmund White
Kindle Edition: 416 Pages (2010-09-22)
list price: US$17.95
Asin: B0042JSNUY
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Along with his groundbreaking essays that redefine politics, language, identity, and friendship in the light of gay experience and desire, this magisterial collection of 25 years of White's nonfiction writings includes dazzling subversive appreciations of cultural icons as diverse as Truman Capote and Cormac McCarthy, Robert Mapplethorpe and the singer formerly known as Prince. Reading tour. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Angle
It always pays to look at things from another angle. You may discover they are not exactly what you took them for at the first glance. Reading this book gives you a perfect oportunity to look at literature not only from a very different angle but also through the eyes of an eminent novelist and a keen literary critic. You may quarrel with White, reject his views but one thing is certain - it is very difficult to remain indifferent. A perfect addition to White's novels and an unorthodox course in 20th century literature.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Reader in the new world--non fiction.
As a struggling writer I find it difficult to consult my creativity in a nurturing yet properly instructive way.One of the main difficulties is finding the right literary setting to allow my ideas to flourish (or atleast a place to plant them).Until I read The Burning Library I was onlyfamiliar with White's fiction.I was apprehensive about his essays; thatthe power of his imaginary voice would be subdued in the realm of nonfiction.It is subdued but it is no less brilliant, no less insightful,and no less stimulating.White rules his world with a brutal and sensitivebrain; he debunks "myth" as he creates it.When the essays turnto biography it helps to be familiar with who he's talking about (Ireccomend a class in contemporary French Literary Criticism) but it isn'tnecessary.White is accessible, provocative and entertaining.Afterreading these essays it took me a long time to return to fiction--bothreading and writing it. These are inspiring articles; intellectual, risque,humorous, and most importantly... still chic. I am--as with all White'swriting--inspired to create but usually disappointed with how short I fallin my attempts to be similar.I highly reccomend this book to anyoneinterested in gay history or the contemporary gay culture.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Provocative and Far Ranging Collection
Edmund White is one of the foremost novelists of our day. He is also a literary critic and social observer of the first order.This collection of essays and reviews spans the period of the late 60's through the mid 90'sand charts the changing views and mores of the gay world of which White isan important member. In addition, White's literary analysis of both wellknown figures such as Nabokov and lesser known poets and authors from allover is acute and thoughtful. White's discussion of his own work isinvaluable to those of us, like myself, who are devotés and places itwithin the greater context of literature. Reading these essays and reviewsmade me want to explore further the authors and poets favored by theauthor, and that is what literary criticism is all about. ... Read more

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