HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

A Boy's Own Story by Edmund White
Loading...

A Boy's Own Story (1982)

by Edmund White

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,190136,740 (3.59)27
  1. 00
    The Boys on the Rock by John Fox (Anonymous user)
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 27 mentions

English (12)  Italian (1)  All languages (13)
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
This is an important book but it is not an easy one to read. The front cover of my edition had blurb on it that said it combined J D Salinger and Oscar Wilde. Well, there’s very little wit but there’s a lot of Holden Caulfield type angst at the world. I’m not a big fan of intimate descriptions of sex either, particularly homosexual sex.

So, why important? Well, it came out in the early 90s at an important time in the gay rights movement, and when the gay community faced the threat of HIV/AIDS also. It gave voice to many who felt the same as Kevin, it’s narrator or who had, like Kevin, grown up in the 1950s and had struggled to find their identity during that era.

At 15, Kevin is a complex individual who is difficult to understand and who is confused by who he is and how he should express that. In that way, he’s exactly like the rest of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, particularly in our teenage years. This has undoubtedly been strengthened by relationships with his father and mother which aren’t exactly right. His father seems distant and almost a stranger to him. His mother seems far too friendly for a mother. I wondered whether this has something to do with the nurture of Kevin’s sexual choices, as opposed to their nature.

He sets out to satisfy his inner longings for the boys/men around him and very often does so. Like Holden Caulfied in Catcher, he doesn’t give a fig about what the moral or social implications of his actions might be and this continues right until the very end of the book when he has a run in with a teacher in which he plays a less than praiseworthy role.

About halfway through though, he has a date with one of the most attractive girls in the school and, the way it’s described, you get the feeling that had she reciprocated the obvious feelings he has for her, then he would have abandoned his homosexuality for heterosexuality. He even wonders himself if this encounter will finally cure him of his homosexual feelings. He talks as if he’s been trying to shake them all his life despite his behaviour telling a contrary story. But she rejects him and so he turns once again to those of his own sexuality. This didn’t quite fit right for me; it seemed far too arbitrary for such an important element of one’s identity.

Although Kevin is often confused and concerned about his sexual propensities, there wasn’t a moment in the book where I sympathised with him. He’s just not a very nice character. Again, like Holden Caulfield, he was a character I watched behaving in a way that seemed devoid of emotion and driven by desires he himself didn’t understand or hold any control over. And he didn’t seem any more in control or at a deeper level of understanding by the end of the novel. Just more determined to let his desires take him where they would. Hmmm… ( )
  arukiyomi | Apr 4, 2015 |
'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
  Cirencester | Jan 26, 2015 |
"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 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
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.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary

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)

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
14 avail.
33 wanted
2 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.59)
0.5 2
1 6
1.5 1
2 19
2.5 6
3 61
3.5 8
4 67
4.5 4
5 47

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 97,866,853 books! | Top bar: Always visible