Learn more Shop now Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Click Here Shop Kindle New Album - Pink Shop now Shop Now

Customer Review

on 9 January 2007
This is a remarkable book. The second in Edmund White's autobiographical trilogy (following "A Boy's Own Story", a growing-up-gay novel, and succeeded by "The Farewell Symphony", about the onset of the AIDS crisis), this follows the un-named narrator through his days at a prep school, through college and into New York, up until the Stonewall Riots.

What I find particularly enjoyable about White is the lushness of his prose; it's so sensually enjoyable, comparable to Nabokov. It really brings alive the physical sensations of the narrator, whilst there is an intellectual ballast to the novel which is equally prominent but never overwhelming. White is as comfortable dealing with ideas as he is with physical descriptions, a rare combination. There is a trajectory of increasing warmth throughout, starting from the "deep freeze" of the prep school, which only ever seems to be in Winter, and the art students nearby are wonderfully described as working alone in the cold, with mittens to warm their hands, an apt metaphor for the isolation of intellectuals and artists in the Eisenhower 50s.

As he progresses through college, things heat up, literally and metaphorically; he meets people that help him to develop, and he starts to at on his sexual compulsions, although still in a solitary and loveless fashion. College life, the fraternities and faculty life are skillfully evoked, characters always vibrant - "Mick" is particularly memorable, as is William Everett Hunton.

But the most important character is Lou, an addict and writer, an introduction to bohemia. Like Allen Ginsberg, although from a completely different tradition, White is remarkably unselfconscious about describing sexual activity, with an unflinching eye. Their relationship, with its various tumults, provides the backbone of the novel, as only Lou can fulfill him both intellectually and physically. The ending, during the Stonewall riots, marks the passing of the era of "gay shame", though it does seem a little pat and neat.

This is a wonderful novel, full of life, ideas, memorable characters, unflinching self-analysis, evocative passages, sensual desrciption, and a vitality that keeps you returning to it. It's not "a gay novel" but a brilliant bildungsroman about a man who is gay - and a brilliant read.
0Comment| 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse| Permalink
What's this?

What are product links?

In the text of your review, you can link directly to any product offered on Amazon.com. To insert a product link, follow these steps:
1. Find the product you want to reference on Amazon.com
2. Copy the web address of the product
3. Click Insert product link
4. Paste the web address in the box
5. Click Select
6. Selecting the item displayed will insert text that looks like this: [[ASIN:014312854XHamlet (The Pelican Shakespeare)]]
7. When your review is displayed on Amazon.com, this text will be transformed into a hyperlink, like this:Hamlet (The Pelican Shakespeare)

You are limited to 10 product links in your review, and your link text may not be longer than 256 characters.