City Boy: My Life in New York During the 1960s and 1970s

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9780747592136: City Boy: My Life in New York During the 1960s and 1970s

In the New Y ork of the 1970s, in the wake of Stonewall and in the midst of economic collapse, you might find the likes of Jasper Johns and William Burroughs at the next cocktail party, and you were as likely to be caught arguing Marx at the New York City Ballet as cruising for sex in the warehouses and parked trucks along the Hudson. This is the New York that Edmund White portrays in City Boy: a place of enormous intrigue and artistic tumult. Combining the no-holds-barred confession and yearning of A Boy's Own Story with the easy erudition and sense of place of The Flaneur, this is the story of White's years in 1970s New York, bouncing from intellectual encounters with Susan Sontag and Harold Brodkey to erotic entanglements downtown to the burgeoning gay scene of artists and writers. I t's a moving, candid, brilliant portrait of a time and place, full of encounters with famous names and cultural icons. CRITICAL PRAISE: "City Boy seems effortless in its tone; it is seamless, wise, funny and charming. The New York described in the book is history now, but history that has made an essential difference to the way we live now. Edmund White evokes the main players in the culture of the city, all of whom he knew, with clarity and with brilliantly-chosen detail and sense of the moment."-Colm Toibin

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About the Author:

An esteemed novelist and cultural critic, Edmund White is the author of many books, including the autobiographical novel A Boy's Own Story; a previous memoir, My Lives; and most recently a biography of poet Arthur Rimbaud. White lives in New York City and teaches writing at Princeton University.

From The Washington Post:

From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com Reviewed by by Michael Lindgren The central truth about American manhood, the one that drives writing from Whitman to Hemingway to Roth, is that our secret inner nature is always in flux, always being questioned, evaluated and redefined. To be a man is to have your soul crammed into a coarse, needy and often unreliable physical apparatus and then beset by a daunting and contradictory set of imperatives and expectations, not least the acknowledgment that the accident of your gender has favored you with a substantial head start. That's why the most swaggering man-child can, if pricked in precisely the right spot, implode in a swirl of self-doubt. Don't tell anyone, but we're all just faking it. The authors of these three memoirs are expert fakers indeed. 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. White's often clumsy but essentially sweet-natured City Boy (Bloomsbury, $26) relates his years in a New York City riddled with crime and drugs but all the more vital and electric for its desperation and violence. He's eloquent on the horrific psychic cost of closeted gay identity, pre-Stonewall: "Half the time that we were claiming our gay rights we were really whistling in the dark, trying to convince ourselves we weren't really public menaces or monsters." By his own admission relentlessly promiscuous, White writes with graphic relish about the fetish-dominated sexuality of the downtown gay scene, as well as giving vivid and occasionally acidic character studies of such famous peers as James Merrill, Thom Gunn, Robert Mapplethorpe and Susan Sontag. But for an iconic writer of his stature, the prose in "City Boy" is often borderline incoherent and riddled with repetition, and its gossipy tone will be either catnip or castor oil to readers, depending upon their age, orientation and level of cultural curiosity. If White is all funk and sweat, then Paul Rudnick is all Jewish-boy-made-good humor and heart. As it happens, Rudnick got his start in the same scarifying milieu that White did, but the two might as well be describing different planets for all that their accounts of '70s New York have in common. A screenwriter and staple of the New Yorker's "Shouts and Murmurs" column, Rudnick has a shtick that is as reliable and surprising as a whoopee cushion. Granted, a gay New Jersey Jew in a convent (researching "Sister Act," a screenplay he ultimately disowned) is practically its own punch line, but Rudnick is a likable and accomplished raconteur who never loses sight of his own absurdity in I Shudder: And Other Reactions to Life, Death, and New Jersey (Harper, $23.99). The most successful chapters of Rudnick's book relate the fictional adventures of his alter ego, Elyot Vionnet, a fussy, aging boulevardier who gleefully enacts superhero-like vengeance on the dimwitted and the tasteless. All in all, Rudnick is so glib and weightless as to make David Sedaris seem like Samuel Beckett, but only the most sour and jaded reader will be able to resist him. Michael Chabon's Manhood for Amateurs (Harper, $25.99) is an entirely different animal: thoughtful, perceptive and maybe just a little dull. A "liberal agnostic empiricist" who is "proud to be a semi-observant, bacon-eating Jew," Chabon offers accounts of grappling with the complexities of modern manhood -- from the dreaded "drug talk" with one's children to the double standards inherent in male parenting -- all propelled by the shimmering prose that won him the Pulitzer Prize. Chabon is not the first writer to find humor in feckless attempts at home improvement, but he is probably the only one capable of locating its source in Rudyard Kipling's "code of high-Victorian masculinity in whose fragmentary shadow American men still come of age." As winning as Chabon's meditations are in these essays, many of which were first published in Details magazine, contrarians may detect a whiff of the much-loathed Hipster Dad persona, especially when he reveals that he and his son own matching vintage Dr. Who T-shirts (ouch). Chabon is so wise and generous-spirited that one occasionally wishes he would crack and come out in favor of schoolyard fisticuffs, say, or turning his son's future over to the Marine Corps. In the end, though, like all of us grown-up boys -- Jew or gentile, gay or straight, urban or rural -- he's just trying to do the best he can.
Copyright 2009, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.

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Editore: Bloomsbury Publishing (1800)
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Descrizione libro Bloomsbury Publishing, 1800. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. book. Codice libro della libreria 0747592136

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