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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We are what we desire.
Edmund White has a unique way of describing the unusual in a dead pan way and of investing the ordinary with magic. Thus, his relationship with one of his boyfriends: when they meet in the evening the hand down the back of White's pants is not affection, but investigation to see if White is wet from having sex on the way home. This is related as other might debate the...
Published on 28 Jan 2010 by Steve

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Life as intense as it gets
Although I'm a great fan of Edmund White, I hesitated before getting "City Boy". After all, White has already written in detail about his life in New York in the novels "The Beautiful Room is Empty" and "The Farewell Symphony", and in the memoire "My Lives" (which has the benefit of photographs). Can he possibly find anything new to say? Well, yes, in some ways he...
Published on 16 Feb 2010 by Mario


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Life as intense as it gets, 16 Feb 2010
Although I'm a great fan of Edmund White, I hesitated before getting "City Boy". After all, White has already written in detail about his life in New York in the novels "The Beautiful Room is Empty" and "The Farewell Symphony", and in the memoire "My Lives" (which has the benefit of photographs). Can he possibly find anything new to say? Well, yes, in some ways he can.

So what's new? Mainly the evocation of New York in the 1960s and 1970s, squalid, bankrupt and violent, but with a dynamic arts scene; and nostalgia for the vie de boheme (!) lived there in those years. "It seemed those exciting days of youth and independence and exaltation would never end". But the book also reminds us of a time when there was no gay pride, and fear, isolation and self-hatred blighted lives. White is eloquent in describing his heroic-sounding struggles to establish himself as a writer, attempting to balance his desire for publication against the search for an authentic voice.

His reminiscences of famous cultural figures like Elizabeth Bishop, Nabokov, Balanchine, Mapplethorpe, Foucault, are intriguing, but European readers may find the time spent on lesser-known personalities rather tedious.

Added to this there is some fine writing on friendship, which all in all makes this a book worth reading, but surely this must be the end of the line for White's autobiographical material?
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We are what we desire., 28 Jan 2010
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Edmund White has a unique way of describing the unusual in a dead pan way and of investing the ordinary with magic. Thus, his relationship with one of his boyfriends: when they meet in the evening the hand down the back of White's pants is not affection, but investigation to see if White is wet from having sex on the way home. This is related as other might debate the relative merits of travelling by train versus bus. White finds it hard to understand jealousy. His own search for multiple partners is a reflection of a clear distinction between tricks and longer term sex buddies on the one hand, and friendships on the other. The latter are the real relationships, to which sex, as opposed to sexuality, is the least importatn aspect.
The magic is in the way White brings New York of the 60s and 70s to life, a life which would have been remote to many New Yorkers themselves but which he conjures up vividly, wittily - but rarely bitchily - and occasionally powerfully, as he tests positive and many of his closest friends die of AIDS.
Many of the characters conjured up here will be known to British readers - Susan Sontag and Mabblethorpe among them - but this is primarily an American cast, leavened by scenes from life in Paris and Venice (the latter especially entertaining). White's writing is both laconic and intense and this is a book to read more than once.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another stich in a lifes work, 6 Mar 2010
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M. Notman "northernfag" (sheffield uk) - See all my reviews
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I have all of Edmund Whites books, and if like me you've read them all there is a lot of going over old ground here, characters and events from most of his greatest works..but that doesnt really take away from the overall enjoyment in reading, it actually probably enhances and builds on the earlier works through letting you get to know the real characters better. This isnt just a "gay" book, for anyone interested in New York in the 1960's/1970's its a genuinely atmospheric look at a city on the edge, the narrative is as usual well written, and its really a good read for anyone interested in human relationships in general. I would have liked some more pictures (so i didnt have to sit with a huge pile of his other books to see who he was talking about), but it was an evening well spent reading it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 24 Feb 2011
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Mr. J. H. Owen "film lover" (Birmingham UK) - See all my reviews
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This is an interesting slice of NYC life in the 60's. It captures the pace and feel of the times. Some of the celebrities discussed may not be known to everyone, but it's still a good read.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It does exactly what it says on the label (book cover), 8 Feb 2010
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Why buy a autobiographical book written by a gay author I've never heard of about his life and times in New York in the 60s and 70s, when I am straight and lived through those times in London and Manchester? Mainly because John Irving says "This splendid book is at once fascinating social history and sublimely detailed gossip" and another review states "He is such a good writer he deserves to be read by everyone". For me these were spot-on invitations to learn something real about an issue I knew nothing of. Celebrities who are talked about throughout this truly engrossing read come to life (and death) in an entertaining fashion. This wordsmith knows how to write sentences that are so rich I read a considerable number more than once - just as repeatedly looking at a well-composed picture brings extra pleasure. Some descriptive passages made me cringe and I wanted to see photographs of all of the players in this story - but they are my own personal views.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but only up to point, 10 May 2014
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This review is from: City Boy (Kindle Edition)
A interesting autobiography of the formative years of a gay author in the 1950- 60 era in New York and San Francisco gay/literary world. However the self centred and seemingly shallow attitude of the author becomes boring before the tail is told.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Long and drawn out, 28 Dec 2013
I was bought this book from my partner who knows I'm a big fan of Edmund White. At first I enjoyed the book, especially when White describes New York in the 60's and 70's - he obviousley had his finger on the pulse there! The majority of the book is White telling us who he knocked about with in the litery world - which I found boring. If your willing to wade trough these stories there are some interesting social facts in the book - like When White tells us what life was like for Gay people back then - like being attacked by gangs - no change there then!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 5 April 2013
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This review is from: City Boy (Kindle Edition)
I haven't finished reading it and I don't want it to end. I'm beginning to slow down so's to make it last longer.
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5.0 out of 5 stars city boy, 9 Feb 2012
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K. O'rourke - See all my reviews
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This book is an excellent read with a well balanced, incisive, and retrospective look at the 60's & 70's. The book takes some time to read as it is dense in parts in it's narrative, but don't be put off, as it is a rewarding read from beginning to end.
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5.0 out of 5 stars writing and sexuality, 3 Aug 2011
City Boy is another autobiographical work by Edmund White, one of my favourite authors. As the previous book My Lives, it is a memoir, this time focused on New York experiences of the author during the 60's and the 70's. The book is organized around meetings between White and the people who were influential in his life. In general they are writers, but not all (Robert Mapplethorpe, just to give an example, it was not), and if there is a thread in this volume is the path of White himself to become a published writer.

The other major aspect of the book is sexuality, or more accurately male homosexual sexuality, either as an individual experience (White assumed, without remorse or contrition, as a promiscuous), or in how homosexuality was lived in those two decades or, finally, on the strengthening of the right to gay sexuality, especially in the post-Stonewall era.

Edmund White was a protagonist of the main events that marked the beginning of the movement for gay rights (he was on Christopher Street in the Stonewall at the time of the clashes with the police), and the book is also an account on his own process of identity awareness. White, incidentally, does connect the discovery of his voice as a writer with the fact that he discovered that the part of human experience that made sense to tell as a writer was directly linked to his sexuality.

The book is filled with stories of gossip, even some mean deeds, but what always surprises with Edmund White is his candour, the way he exposes himself, and how he always submits to the judgment whether of himself or by others. The author's writing is, as always, very simple and direct. And by the way he comes with an interesting theory: while most of the contemporary heterosexual writers, whose experience were shared by most people, needed to retreat to style as a way to discover the uniqueness of their authorial voices, the homosexual writers, to be original, only needed to tell their own experiences, thus justifying the fact that their writing is slimmer and simpler.
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