Original Youth: The Real Story of Edmund White's Boyhood

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9781931160445: Original Youth: The Real Story of Edmund White's Boyhood
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It isn't often that a memoirist gets the biographic treatment, but the story of Edmund White's youth was too dramatic to resist. In this bracing true-life tale, Keith Fleming, White's nephew whom he adopted, captures a particularly unusual childhood. Forced to be a confidante to his unhinged mother, terrified and attracted to his imperious father, the teenage White became a Buddhist, a cruiser of hustlers and married men, and an FBI drug informant on his way to ultimate fame as a leading gay literary figure. Drawing on personal knowledge, letters, photographs, and extensive interviews with those closest to "Eddie," Fleming neither exploits his subject nor sugar-coats him. Original Youth is a rich portrait of a complex subject and a "wild child" who managed to survive and flourish against all odds.

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From Publishers Weekly:

In this biography, the nephew of seminal gay writer Edmund White presents the "real" version of the coming-of-age experience already portrayed in White's novel A Boy's Own Story, in which White purportedly altered the truth to make his story more "universal." Fleming (The Boy with the Thorn in His Side) aims to "bring to light intriguing aspects of White's actual boyhood that have never been written about...." Fleming relies on extensive interviews with White; his sister, Margaret (Fleming's mother); and childhood friends to flesh out the story of his uncle's unhappy upbringing. Fleming takes great pains to insist that White's was no ordinary childhood. After his parents' divorce, White had to grow up very fast, becoming the little man in an extremely dysfunctional household. His mother is cartoonishly portrayed here as painfully unstable, relying on her son as a pseudo-lover, even inviting him to sleep in her bed on occasion. Visits to his unemotional and selfish father provide no relief. Fleming frequently takes on the role of amateur psychologist in an attempt to determine the origins of what he sees as White's most salient personality traits-lying, phoniness and a propensity for betrayal chief among them-but rarely does he come to any illuminating conclusions. Ironically, it is only when Fleming quotes A Boy's Own Story, which he does frequently, that White's childhood transcends repetitive biographical details and comes alive on the page. Perhaps for fans of White, the real story truly is the boy's own story after all.
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From Booklist:

Inquiring minds long have wanted to know how autobiographical Edmund White's novel A Boy's Own Story (1982) is, but White, the dean of American gay novelists, has never publicly obliged them. Now Fleming, his nephew, does, arguing that White was a strikingly resourceful kid, especially in successfully pursuing sexual experience despite the lack of gay role models during his 1950s adolescence. The novel was very autobiographical, but not as sensational as it could have been. White saved some of his early exploits for later stories with collegiate protagonists because he thought readers wouldn't believe a boy as young as he had been would do them. Sex wasn't White's only arena of precocity. He wrote plays when a young child and novels--autobiographical and homosexual--in prep school, and when sexual desire emerged at puberty, he became, overnight, charmingly, sympathetically sociable (to this day, he maintains a crowded social schedule). Fleming draws generously on his uncle's good prose in telling the "real story," and his own writing is wonderfully fluent and engaging, too. Ray Olson
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9781931160209: Original Youth: The Real Story of Edmund White's Boyhood

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ISBN 10:  1931160201 ISBN 13:  9781931160209
Publisher: Green Candy Press, 2003
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Book Description Green Candy, United States, 2007. Paperback. Condition: New. New edition. Language: English . Brand New Book. Edmund White s boyhood remains of enduring interest far beyond the bounds of the individual and the icon. As an intense playing out of the many themes of gay youth it is almost unparalleled. Forced from the age of three to be the best friend and advisor of his unhinged, divorced mother; fearful of his imperious father yet also sexually attracted to him, White evolved into a teenager who was at once a Buddhist, a cruiser of hustlers and married men, an A student, an FBI drug informer, a writer and a wily seducer of classmates. A truly rich portrait. Seller Inventory # POW9781931160445

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Book Description Green Candy, United States, 2007. Paperback. Condition: New. New edition. Language: English . Brand New Book. Edmund White s boyhood remains of enduring interest far beyond the bounds of the individual and the icon. As an intense playing out of the many themes of gay youth it is almost unparalleled. Forced from the age of three to be the best friend and advisor of his unhinged, divorced mother; fearful of his imperious father yet also sexually attracted to him, White evolved into a teenager who was at once a Buddhist, a cruiser of hustlers and married men, an A student, an FBI drug informer, a writer and a wily seducer of classmates. A truly rich portrait. Seller Inventory # POW9781931160445

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