Wednesday, February 02, 2011

New York (Gay) City Boy

Just finished reading 'City Boy' by Edmund White and it was a better read than I would have thought. White was part of the first generation to come out as gay in New York. Whilst I admire that, he does seem to be bitter about the prejudice that he faced in contrast to a previous generation of major literary characters (whom he names) who were gay but never revealed it.

I love reading about New York in the 70s, it was rough and cool, full of artists with wild times. I think he went overboard with the sexual detail. White mentions that Bob Dylan lived across the street from him but he never saw him and he didn't really like his music anyway. I don't think it is written as well as it could be, it is gossipy and reads as if he was discussing things over a glass of wine. It is full of famous characters from the New York literary scene and he obviously had a very exciting time. It is good to get a different view of the world every so often.

Whilst it does confirm my view that literary success depends on what friends you have, White did have a hard time getting his books published and I do have to admire that he stuck with it. It was quite lucky that Nabokov read his book and recommended him (even if he was never sure if Nabokov was joking or not!) He was even involved in writing 'The joy of gay sex', and openly admits that being published in whatever format, it helped him to get more published. 

I must admit I was surprised at how bitter he appears at his lack of success and the trouble he has had over the years. I would have thought that now that he seems to have a fairly good reputation he would have glossed over it. I'm not even sure if it does merit the position of a 'book of note' but for a while it was quite a good read.

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