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No one has been more frank, lucid, rueful and entertaining
about growing up gay in Middle America than Edmund White.
Best known for his autobiographical novels, starting with A
Boy's Own Story, White here takes fiction out of his story
and delivers the facts of his life in all their shocking and
From an adolescence in the 1950s, an era that tried to "cure
his homosexuality" but found him "unsalvageable," he emerged
into a 1960s society that redesignated his orientation as
"acceptable (nearly)." He describes a life touched by
psychotherapy in every decade, starting with his flamboyant
and demanding therapist mother, who considered him her own
personal test case -- and personal escort to cocktail
lounges after her divorce. His father thought that even
wearing a wristwatch was effeminate, though custodial visits
to Dad in Cincinnati inadvertently initiated White into the
culture of "hustlers and johns" that changed his life.
In My Lives, White shares his enthusiasms and his passions
-- for Paris, for London, for Jean Genet -- and introduces
us to his lovers and predilections, past and present. "Now
that I'm sixty-five," writes White, "I think this is a good
moment to write a memoir. . . . Sixty-five is the right time
for casting a backward glance, while one is still fully
engaged in one's life."
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