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The Married Man (2000)
by Edmund White
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679781447, Paperback)Edmund White majored in sexual explicitness with his boldly autobiographical trilogy--A Boy's Own Story, The Beautiful Room Is Empty, and The Farewell Symphony. Now, explicitly as ever, he trains his unflinching eye on a new subject: a young man's death from AIDS. Austin is a fiftysomething American expat in Paris; Julien is a young married man he meets at the gym. Much to Austin's surprise, Julien calls him and soon they are sharing a bed and a life. The Married Man is White's Henry James novel: the first couple hundred pages show us a satirical portrait of young Julien as a stuffy Frenchman and a more elliptical portrait of Austin's apprehension of French culture through his lover. With Julien, "Austin was always learning things, not necessarily reasoned or researched information but rather all those thousands and thousands of brand names, turns of phrase, aversions and anecdotes that make up a culture as surely as do the moves in a child's game of hopscotch."
But White wants to take us all the way to the end of this relationship. Austin is HIV positive, and it soon becomes clear that Julien has AIDS. As Julien's health unravels, the two travel to Providence, to Key West, to Venice, to Rome, and ultimately to Morocco. The author coins a darkly appropriate phrase for this urge to move: he calls it "AIDS-restlessness." White, in fact, unveils a whole gallery of startling images as Julien nears death. Julien is "the bowler hat descending into the live volcano." Thin and brown and bearded, he looks "like the Ottoman Empire in a turn-of-the-century political cartoon." Though he can't read it, Julien acquires a copy of the Koran. "It was the perfect book for a weary, dying man--pious, incomprehensible pages to strum, an ink cloud of unknowing." White has found a language both magical and clinical to describe a horrible death. --Claire Dederer
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:19 -0400)
"Austin is an American furniture scholar living in Paris. He is pushing fifty, loveless, drifting. One day at the gym he meets Julien: French, an architect, much younger and married. Against every expectation, this chance acquaintance matures into profound romance." "As the two men dash between bohemian suppers and sophisticated salons, their only impediments are the easily surmountable and comic clashes of culture, age and temperament. Inevitably, however, Julien's past catches up with them. With increasing desperation, in a quest to save health and happiness, they move from the shuttered squares of Venice to sun-drenched Key West, to Montreal in the snow and Providence in the rain. But it is amid the bleak, baking sands of the Sahara that their love is pushed to its ultimate crisis."--BOOK JACKET.
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