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.’”
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'Edmund White has crossed The Catcher in the Rye with De Profundis, J. D. Salinger with Oscar Wilde, to create an extraordinary novel. It is a clear and sinister pool in which goldfish and piranhas both swim. The subject of A Boy's Own Story is less a particular boy than the bodies and souls of American men; the teachers and masters; the lovers, brothers, hustlers and friends; the flawed fathers who would be kings to their own sons who should be princes' New York Times Review 'A breathtaking evocation of a young boy growing up in the fifties in an American town ...The book's extraordinary power lies in the tension between the obsessive longing and then moments of denial, the attempts to transcend or avoid the inescapable fact of the boy's sexuality ...There have been many good novels of adolescence; this one surpasses them all' Jeremy Seabrook, New Society 'The boy's self-portrait shines with authenticity, he is an extraordinary but plausible mixture of sweetness and deviousness ...Add to this the fact that White's prose is marvellously sensual while his eye is sharply satiric and you have something of the flavour of an outstanding text which should appeal to a wide audience. The book goes beyond its homosexual theme to say something about the whole process of growing up' Robert Nye, GuardianProduct Description:
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.
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