3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Things are not always as they seem,
This review is from: Best Little Boy in the World (Modern Library) (Hardcover)
When I first read this book, the author was listed as John Reid. Originally written in 1973, it is understandable that, at that time, anyone who wanted to have a `real career' couldn't risk exposure to the general public as being gay, even when trying to make the point that being gay is not the deplorable plight it is sometimes (even today) commonly held to be.
The book has since been revised, both with a supplemental volume entitled 'The Best Little Boy in the World Grows Up', as well as being reissued in its original form (with minor modifications), as being authored by Andrew Tobias. Twenty-five years had passed, and Tobias had a career that was secure enough, and society had changed enough, that he felt he could lend his true name to the cover of the text.
This book is a coming out tale. Slowly but surely, while taking great pains to conceal the truth, Tobias lived the model life. Raised in an upper-middle class family that met all the criteria for statistical happiness, Tobias was himself an all-American, boy-next-door type who was good at school, good at sports, respectful of elders, always fulfilling expectations. What better closet in which to hide save that of being successfully normal, and a normal success?
Tobias confides his agonising attempts to masquerade as `normal' - his time at Yale, with roommates who expected him to be as interested in girlfriends as they and any other `normal' 20 year old male should be. Sometimes humourous but somewhat painful to read, his unrequited love for one of his roommates while having to pretend at carrying on relationships with women, made for strange bedfellows indeed (if you'll forgive the pun).
As he grew older, he grew bolder, perhaps out of desperation, perhaps out of frustration. Perhaps it was just being tired of being alone in the universe, which is often how he felt - alone with his feeling, unable to share anything truthful.
Finally, Tobias began revealing himself to ever-wider circles of friends, and generally fell `into a bad crowd', considering the Best Little Boy in the World (for which he uses the acronym BLBITW in mocking self-reference) had never even smoked a cigarette. Drugs, alcohol, all fueled by a high-paying job that helped him keep his cover.
Tobias was in the process of running from society and running from himself, i.e., the image he had constructed for himself of who he thought he should be, based on societal norms. He hurt a lot of people along the way, which is unfortunate, but perhaps no more in reality than any of us do in our various ways without being aware of the consequences of our actions?
Tobias was better known (until his revelation of authorship of this volume) as an author of financial self-help books, investment and insurance texts, and other such professional writings. Thankfully he is able to be honest enough (not the least of which, with himself) that he can claim authorship of 'The Best Little Boy in the World' -- in a world where conformity is encouraged by adults and enforced by peers, this book stands as a revelation of the turmoil that one may go through for a `difference', even when all outward appearances speak to the contrary.