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A Boy's Own Story by Edmund White
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A Boy's Own Story (1982)

by Edmund White

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
"A Boy's Own Story" is the first in Edmund White's autobiographical trilogy about growing up gay in 1950's America. He struggles with his homosexuality and with a deep longing to belong that seemingly is never fulfilled.

White is a terrific writer in terms of use of language... his descriptions are beautiful without being overwrought. His pacing and plot is more difficult to like... the story is very fragmented and jumps around to different time periods in his youth.

Overall, I found the book to be an interesting coming of age story. ( )
  amerynth | Jun 25, 2013 |
ebook
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
This is the fascinating story of a young man growing up gay in 1950s America. He's clearly attracted to men, but knows that this is seen as wrong by everyone around him. This book charts several years in his life, through bizarre psychotherapy with a therapist more interested in his own life and diet pill addiction, falling in and out of love hard with men (and one woman), and struggling to find a place for himself in the world.

Even though the narrator is gay, much of what he describes is common to many young people: the need for acceptance, for love, for parental approval.

This was recommended to me by my mother (I even borrowed her copy) and while she put it as "this isn't the sort of book I normally read" I shall be more blunt: there is an explicit gay sex scene very early on in the book between our narrator and a younger teen. If that's not your cup of tea, look elsewhere for your tales of young people struggling for acceptance.

But I can also see why she recommended it. It is beautifully written, and strikes many a true chord when it comes to the awkwardness of adolescence and growing up. ( )
  wookiebender | Mar 27, 2013 |
I don't know what the deal was. I just couldn't get into it. I really liked The Beautiful Room is Empty. This one seemed more fragmented. I started getting into the second half, when he went off to boarding school. That was when the pace started to pick up. I didn't care much for his relationship with his father, though it played a role later in his life. It was kind of interesting that he fantasized about being his father's lover, not unlike Allen Ginsberg. I haven't heard much about a homosexual Oedipal complex, but it appears to exist. I think I have a problem with childhood memoirs (I say memoir because this is supposedly based on White's life) in general. I don't like reading about adults interpreting their childhoods when they were completely lacking any sense of self-awareness. I like when he hits his teenage years. Teenagers, in my opinion, are far more interesting and dynamic than children. I like their beliefs and opinions. A lot.There were some beautiful passages in this book. And some wonderful analysis of a life lived. I started it at the same time as Lolita, which has many stylistic similarities, namely the flowery, well written prose. Which can really weight one down after a while. I'm looking forward to reading something a bit lighter and still have a high opinion of Mr. White, even though I didn't want to finish his book (but I did). ( )
1 vote anoceandrowning | Jan 21, 2010 |
An enjoyable romp through the tough world of American gay youth. ( )
  Martin444 | Dec 10, 2009 |
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We're going for a midnight boat ride. It's cold, clear summer night and four of us- the two boys, my dad and I- are descending the stairs that zigzag down the hill from the house to the dock.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0330281518, Paperback)

'Edmund White has crossed The Catcher in the Rye with De Profundis, J. D. Salinger with Oscar Wilde, to create an extraordinary novel. It is a clear and sinister pool in which goldfish and piranhas both swim. The subject of A Boy's Own Story is less a particular boy than the bodies and souls of American men; the teachers and masters; the lovers, brothers, hustlers and friends; the flawed fathers who would be kings to their own sons who should be princes' New York Times Review 'A breathtaking evocation of a young boy growing up in the fifties in an American town ...The book's extraordinary power lies in the tension between the obsessive longing and then moments of denial, the attempts to transcend or avoid the inescapable fact of the boy's sexuality ...There have been many good novels of adolescence; this one surpasses them all' Jeremy Seabrook, New Society 'The boy's self-portrait shines with authenticity, he is an extraordinary but plausible mixture of sweetness and deviousness ...Add to this the fact that White's prose is marvellously sensual while his eye is sharply satiric and you have something of the flavour of an outstanding text which should appeal to a wide audience. The book goes beyond its homosexual theme to say something about the whole process of growing up' Robert Nye, Guardian

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:11 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The book's unnamed narrator, growing up during the 1950s, is beset by aloof parents, a cruel sister, and relentless mocking from his peers, compelling him to seek out works of art and literature as solace and to uncover new relationships in the struggle to embrace his own sexuality.… (more)

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