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Books  >>  Biography

Edmund White

City Boy

Edmund White City Boy My Life In New York During The 1960s And '70s
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Groundbreaking literary icon Edmund White reflects on his remarkable life in New York in an era when the city was economically devastated but incandescent with art and ideas. White struggles to gain literary recognition, witnesses the rise of the gay rights movement, and has memorable encounters with luminaries from Elizabeth Bishop to William Burroughs, Susan Sontag to Jasper Johns. Recording his ambitions and desires, recalling lovers and literary heroes, White displays the wit, candor, and generosity that have defined his unique voice over the decades.

“[A] moving chronicle…that peacock’s tail, those stag’s antlers—they’re here, to be sure, but so are vulnerability, doubt, failure and long years toiling at the sort of cruddy day jobs that most literary writers know all too well…In City Boy, White is amusing and raucous as ever but he also lets the mask slip…his losses and struggles, as consequence, seems less sculpted, but more real….City Boy, plain-spoken and knowing, is a survivor’s tale, a missive from one of those antlered boys of that era to the others who are gone: this is who we were, this is how it was, this was our city. Some stories don’t need to be embellished to glow.”—New York Times Book Review

City Boy is Mr. White's second memoir in three years, and a great deal of his fiction (notably the novel ''A Boy's Own Story'') has been autobiographical. You get the sense of a writer slowly peeling his life like an artichoke, letting only a few stray leaves go at a time…this one is salty and buttery, for sure. Mr. White's ''Oh, come on, guys'' meekness has vanished into thin air.”—New York Times

“Novelist and critic White weaves erotic encounters and long-ago literati into a vast tapestry of Manhattan memories… How he overcame setbacks and confronted his insecurities to eventually write 23 books makes for fascinating reading…White writes with a simple, fluid style, and beneath his patina of pain, a refreshing honesty emerges. This is a brilliant recreation of an era, rich in revels, revolutions and ‘leather boys leading the human tidal wave.’”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A colorfully detailed remembrance…with his novelist’s brilliance in turns of phrase in evoking these places, [White] also recalls the many celebrated writers he encountered over the years in his slow climb to writerly success. A special invitation to a world gone by.”—Booklist (starred review)

“A graceful memoir of a decidedly ungraceful time in the life of New York City…. A welcome portrait of a time and place long past, and much yearned for.”—Kirkus

“[White] retained a keen appreciation for the varieties of affection, which is gracefully displayed here. Lively sketches of James Merrill, Susan Sontag, Robert Mapplethorpe, and others are occasionally sharp as well as fond, but White’s candor extends equally to his own doubts and failures.”—New Yorker

“So witty, so insightful, so bristling with gossip, that one almost fails to notice that it is an essential chronicle of a revolution in many ways no less important than the fall of Communism: the gay liberation movement, in which White was both an actor and a privileged spectator…In one of his many discourses on friends famous -- Jasper Johns, Peggy Guggenheim, James Merrill -- and otherwise, White described a now-forgotten novelist's book as lacking ""that key, embarrassing literary quality no one knows how to discuss: charm."" City Boy is full of it, even when discussing weighty topics.”—Harpers

“The oral histories of Edmund White—who relives his decades-old glory days as a hobbing, nobbing City Boy.”—Vanity Fair
 
“As someone who lived through the period and knew most of the people Ed White writes about, I was delighted to read his new book, City Boy. The charm and candor of his work has never been more apparent. I finished City Boy wanting still more—which is a rare reading experience.”—Martin Duberman, author of Waiting to Land

“Since White is a born raconteur, his gimlet-eyed anecdotes about celebrities of the era are as tangy as blood orange sorbet served after lobster Thermidor… [he] matches his talent for journalism with brilliant imagistic prose.”—Gay City News

“In his 23 books, novelist and literary critic White has become one of the premier chroniclers of New York City intellectual life and the gay world…White unabashedly turns the pen on himself and the dozens of writers and artists he met in his years coming of age as a gay man in New York.”—NY Post

“Edmund White's writing of the past quarter-century adds up to a story of inner life repressed and then bursting forth into full expressive flower, as well as a neat encapsulation of the history of gay subculture…He's eloquent on the horrific psychic cost of closeted gay identity, pre-Stonewall.”—Washington Post

“[White] is a more highbrow Augusten Burroughs; a more sedate and scholarly David Sedaris…[City Boy] is an exquisitely written, devilishly detailed account of White's life in the City.”—Huffington Post

“[An] exuberant, thoughtful memoir… White's affectionate yet candid portraits of literary celebrities Richard Howard, Harold Brodkey and Susan Sontag celebrate those friendships, with the eminences coming across as quite distinct from their forbidding pubic personas, even lovable…Sparkling cameo appearances by the likes of Truman Capote, Robert Mapplethorpe and Fran Lebowitz expand the feeling that artistic Manhattan then was a very different place than it is today. All fun aside, the gadabout boulevardier at some point had to take a back seat to the fiercely ambitious emerging writer. White's vivid analysis of his artistic struggles and literary progress during these years is like a master class for other writers…. White's memoir…has charm to burn.”—Shelf Awareness

“Decades before Times Square looked like a trailer park filled with tourists in lawn chairs and real estate prices hit the stratosphere, New York was seedy and dangerous. But for a young gay man from the Midwest, it was also a refuge, full of possibility and excitement, where strangers became lovers with one furtive glance, as Edmund White evokes in his fascinating historical memoir City Boy: My Life in New York During the 1960s and '70s…like his novels, the portrait he paints is unflinching.”—Modern Tonic

“CITY BOY is an amazing memoir of White’s hunger for literary fame — for publication even — and intellectual esteem in the superheated creative world of ’60s and ’70s New York. His sketches of writers and artists, including everyone from poets James Merrill and John Ashbery to artist Robert Wilson and editor Robert Gottlieb, are full of bon mots, sharply observed details, and great honesty about his own desires for love and esteem. CITY BOY vividly brings to life the sheer squalor of life in 1970s New York …A wonderful raconteur with a well-stocked fund of anecdotes and observations, White’s writings reveal much about alliances, alignments, and personalities from a van


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