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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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1,372178,078 (3.58)48
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    The Boys on the Rock by John Fox (Anonymous user)
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English (16)  Italian (1)  All languages (17)
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
"What I wanted was to be loved by men and love them back but not to be a homosexual"
By sally tarbox on 3 June 2018
Format: Paperback
Very readable and vivid account of the author's teens, growing up gay when such things were not discussed. His efforts to date a girl, to tell himself he's just going through a phase, while spending his days yearning for men.
Yet while homosexuality is not openly mentioned, it's going on all around him, from a neighbour's young son to his classmates and teachers... He dabbles in religion and psychoanalysis; he contends with a rather dysunctional broken family.
I thought his descriptions of his insecure mother were fabulous:
-"You're handsome and intelligent."
-"Handsome! With these big nostrils?"
-"Oh, that's just your sister. She's so frustrated she has to pick on you. There's nothing wrong with your nostrils. At least I don't see anything wrong. Of course, I know you too well. If you like, we could consult a nose doctor". A long pause. "Nostrils...Do people generally dwell on them? I mean, do people think about them a lot?" Smal high voice: "Are mine okay?"
A hopeless silence.

White's evocation of adolescence, the efforts to fit in, be popular will strike a note with readers whatever their gender or sexual orientation. ( )
  starbox | Jun 2, 2018 |
I made it to page 16 and I couldn't read anymore. It is truly a personal thing for me than anything. It was not my type of book I would normally read but I gave it a shot. After 15 pages, I had to stop.
  booklover3258 | Apr 22, 2017 |
I find myself drawn to coming of age stories, especially well written ones, such as "A Boys Own Story," for many reasons. One of which is a one sided view of the characters that make up this one individuals story.
What White does so well is vividly paint these essential background characters such as the father, or his mother and eventually teachers and friends. It is through his interactions and observances of them, that we in turn get to know and understand him.
To me, this is how real life works, and yet is so rarely captured well in novels.
The novel is definitely graphic at times, which for me felt raw and correct for the story being told, but understandably unnerving to some.
I personally saw a lot of myself in the protagonist. His perpetual need to please everyone, his fear and yet attraction to authority figures, and his fluid morphing of character are all traits that I have felt to some degree, and so endeared me to the novel on a personal level.
Certainly this is not every gay man's coming of age, but still a powerful and very honest look at some universal emotions and trials gay men go through while coming to terms with who they are.
Overall a solid novel with a lot of depth and substance. I'm excited to continue on to the rest of the trilogy. ( )
  Kiddboyblue | Jun 24, 2016 |
The narrator is a teenage boy growing up in blue collar America in the 1940's or 50's. Things around him are changing and he doesn't know what to do, mainly with is sexuality. He isn't the only one at the time trying to deal with being gay but this is his story. After coming to terms with his reliance on his mother he convinces his father to send him to boarding school where he tries desperately to fit in but after a year he hasn't gotten much further of fitting in.

I finished this a couple days ago and have been debating on what to say in terms of a review. I'm not sure how I honestly felt about this one. I didn't like it as much as other books that I have read recently. It was at one point quite descriptive on certain aspects of a sexual relationship between two men but overall wasn't terrible but wasn't great either. I am finding that I have having a hard time finding books on the 1001 list that I actually find enjoyable. All of them that I have read recently have been terrible! ( )
  welkeral | Mar 20, 2016 |
White's autobiographical novel of growing up with a sense of otherness. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
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To Christopher Cox
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:35 -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)

» see all 3 descriptions

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