Editorial Reviews for this title:
For more than two decades, Edmund White has been widely recognized as America’s preeminent gay writer. “He has a novelist’s eye for the telling detail or the remarkable phrase and, like Proust himself, concentrates upon the minutiae of the past so that it might live again,” wrote The New York Times Book Review. “White possesses the rare combination of a po-etic sense of language and an ironic sense of humor,” declared Newsweek. “[He] is unquestionably the foremost American gay novelist.” Commemorating the twentieth anni-versary of A Boy’s Own Story, this Modern Library edition presents White’s autobiographical novel together with an Introduction by prizewinning novelist Allan Gurganus and a new Afterword by the author himself.
A Boy’s Own Story, with equal parts stunning lyricism and unabashed humor, traces a nameless narrator’s coming-of-age in the 1950s. Struggling with his homosexuality, the narrator seeks the consolations of a fantastic imagination and fills his head with romantic expectations (“I believed without a doubt in a better world, which was adulthood or New York or Paris or love.”) His distant, divorced parents exacerbate his hunger for emotional connection, and he endures the unhelpful attentions of a priest and a psychoanalyst. In time, he recognizes the need to be loved by the men in his life and, in the surprising conclusion, escapes his childhood forever with one unforgettable act.
“With A Boy’s Own Story, American literature is larger by one classic novel,” wrote The Washington Post Book World. “No reader, straight or gay . . . can fail to experience shock after shock of recognition in these pages, and few, I would bet, will be able to withhold a one-to-one sympathy from the unnamed narrator, even when he is being, by the standards of only yesterday, ‘shocking.’”
The protagonist of this story is a homosexual, and his story is of a life in which homosexuality is a shaping force. Set in the American midwest of the 1950s, the book tells how the frustrated 15-year-old, whom the world would despise if it knew him, becomes the guardian of public morals.
An instant classic upon its original publication, A Boy's Own Story is the first of Edmund White's highly acclaimed trilogy of autobiographical novels that brilliantly evoke a young man's coming of age and document American gay life through the last forty years.
The nameless narrator in this deeply affecting work reminisces about growing up in the 1950s with emotionally aloof, divorced parents, an unrelenting sister, and the schoolmates who taunt him. He finds consolation in literature and his fantastic imagination. Eager to cultivate intimate, enduring friendships, he becomes aware of his yearning to be loved by men, and struggles with the guilt and shame of accepting who he is. Written with lyrical delicacy and extraordinary power, A Boy's Own Story is a triumph.
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