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The Beautiful Room Is Empty: A Novel by…
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The Beautiful Room Is Empty: A Novel (original 1988; edition 1994)

by Edmund White

Series: A Boy's Own Story (2)

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8971319,187 (3.76)41
When the narrator of White's poised yet scalding autobiographical novel first embarks on his sexual odyssey, it is the 1950s, and America is "a big gray country of families on drowsy holiday." That country has no room for a scholarly teenager with guilty but insatiable stirrings toward other men. Moving from a Midwestern college to the Stonewall Tavern on the night of the first gay uprising--and populated by eloquent queens, butch poseurs, and a fearfully incompetent shrink--The Beautiful Room is Empty conflates the acts of coming out and coming of age. "With intelligence, candor, humor--and anger--White explores the most insidious aspects of oppression.... An impressive novel."--Washington Post book World… (more)
Member:foucaultismyhomeboy
Title:The Beautiful Room Is Empty: A Novel
Authors:Edmund White
Info:Vintage (1994), Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:Your library
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The Beautiful Room Is Empty by Edmund White (1988)

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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
One of those 1001 Books you must read before you die that I could have done without. This is gay lit and therefore there is not much I find worth reading. I do not care to read about gay sex, gay toilet behavior and therefore I don't think that qualifies as literature I must read. What is good about the book is that it is a coming of age story and a coming out story. I guess this is the second book of a trilogy that is almost semi autobiographical. It tells the story of gays in the 1960s up to the 70s. I really did not see much that qualifies as literature. ( )
  Kristelh | Aug 13, 2021 |
Sometimes it seems nothing changes and at other times everything does. In this novel we are confronted with these two realities: the comforting illusion of the States in the 50s and the gross and terrible ways homosexuality was treated. Through the lens of Bunny we see the tension growing up as a gay boy in a heteronormative society where all his impulses will be denatured and criminalised. The gentle slope that we see him climb is a testimony to how far gay rights have come. A shining, raw light onto an epoch. ( )
  Cecilturtle | Mar 7, 2020 |
With the same level that I loved "A Boy's Own Story," I disliked "The Beautiful Room is Empty."
There felt, for me, a huge disconnect from the first novel to this second. It did not feel as if the protagonist were the same person at all, and I think that hurt the novel. I liked the protagonist in "Story," and felt a strong distaste for the protagonist in "Room."
I think for me there were a lot of things that just went wrong. Mostly, I don't think a clear picture of who the protagonist is, was ever really established. White spends so much time describing and analyzing the other people in the protagonist's life, that I felt the novel seemed more about them than him. I couldn't really tell you much about him, whereas, we were given so much information about all the side characters. It felt less a story about the protagonist and more a story about the people in his life. For me, this just made the protagonist less interesting, and underdeveloped, allowing very little room for me to care much about him.
I also found the end horrible. It ended on such a random note, that felt completely abstract to the rest of the novel. I understand their is a third book to the series, but generally it would have been nice to have some sort of segway, or ending that fit with the narrative.
I wanted to love this novel, but just couldn't. Compared to his first, it fell extremely short for me. ( )
  Kiddboyblue | Mar 29, 2017 |
"The Beautiful Room is Empty" is the second book in Edmund White's semi-autobiographical trilogy about coming out in the 1960's and his efforts to accept his sexuality.

In this installment, the narrator continues to torture himself by trying to talk himself out of his homosexuality through therapy, while also experimenting with his sexuality through pretty much every avenue that was available to gay men in the 1960's. Our narrator surrounds himself with others who are also struggling too.

I didn't like this book as much as the first installment "A Boy's Own Story," which is strange because the main thing I didn't like about the first book was its choppiness. Beautiful Room is a much smoother story, but I didn't find the writing to be as strong. I do think White tells an important story here -- acceptance is so, so crucial to the human psyche. I'm not all that inspired to read the final installment, in which I expect (and hope) that our narrator finally finds acceptance. ( )
1 vote amerynth | Jun 8, 2016 |
The Beautiful Room is Empty Edmund White
★★★

This is the second book in a trilogy about a gay boy growing up and coming to terms with his sexuality, I think this would have been better read in order however book bingo assigned me this book and not the first and having read the description I wasn't sure I would want to read anything else

This book deals with the narrator becoming an adult he is attending college and associating with bohemians one of whom, Maria, becomes a firm friend.

What I liked about the book was the honest voice of the narrator he is young, gay, naïve and struggling with how to meet men and his feelings when he does meet them. He has a believable voice and I think it is probably an accurate portrayal of how it feels to be young and gay in the 50's.

What I didn't like was the culture of the toilet I just found it distasteful although from hearing about recent police arrests on the news it probably is a realistic situation and would have been even more a necessary way of meeting people back then.
( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
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"Ah! Do you have to be sensual to be human?"
"Certainly, Madame. Pity is in the guts, just as tenderness is on the skin."
~ Anatole France, 'The Red Lily'
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To Stanley Redfern
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I met Maria during my next-to-last year in prep school.
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When the narrator of White's poised yet scalding autobiographical novel first embarks on his sexual odyssey, it is the 1950s, and America is "a big gray country of families on drowsy holiday." That country has no room for a scholarly teenager with guilty but insatiable stirrings toward other men. Moving from a Midwestern college to the Stonewall Tavern on the night of the first gay uprising--and populated by eloquent queens, butch poseurs, and a fearfully incompetent shrink--The Beautiful Room is Empty conflates the acts of coming out and coming of age. "With intelligence, candor, humor--and anger--White explores the most insidious aspects of oppression.... An impressive novel."--Washington Post book World

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