11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Life as intense as it gets,
This review is from: City Boy: My Life in New York During the 1960s and 1970s (Hardcover)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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Initial post: 1 Jun 2011 09:31:33 BDT
Gilad Vago says:
Yes, we all know that White is a keen observer of what goes on around him. I'm in the middle of reading his boyhood reminicenses where he mixes rather poetic scenes with the laconic - but for the reader rather refreshing -descriptions of first sexual experiences and the reader feels perfectly free to find similarities in his own past.
As I've been in the U.S. in the late 60's (also in New York), I certainly will read the "City Boy" to find out if my experiences are similar or the same ones as White's.
In reply to an earlier post on 9 Sep 2011 00:41:52 BDT
Last edited by the author on 9 Sep 2011 00:43:24 BDT
C-P Parker says:
Just to go back to New York and Boston in the 1960s and 1970s for the wonderful operatic acting and singing (by Bergonzi, Gedda, Kraus, Tebaldi, Sills, Sutherland, Simionato, Berini, Forrester, Bastiani, MacNeil, Treigle, Diaz, and so, so many more) of those decades (which, fortunately, I experienced live in both cities), would make it worth it to live forever in such a time warp!
All of that plus the vivifying gay writing of both White and Mordden, and other wondrously adventurous souls!
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