Books by Edmund White

Edmund White was born on January 13, 1940, in Cincinnati, Ohio. His father was, according to White, "a small entrepreneur who made a lot of money and then lost most of it during the time when small businessmen were being superceded by big corporations." W


THE UNPUNISHED VICE by Edmund White
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: June 26, 2018

"A literary delicacy with more takeaways than one can count."
The celebrated author takes us through the many shades of literature. Read full book review >
OUR YOUNG MAN by Edmund White
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 5, 2016

"A closely written, multidimensional coming-of-age novel that captures a time of whispers, elaborate codes, and not inconsiderable danger."
White (Jack Holmes and His Friend, 2012, etc.) returns with a playful yet searching novel of gay life in the New York of Ed Koch and Studio 54.Read full book review >
INSIDE A PEARL by Edmund White
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 11, 2014

"Some of White's observations on rape, feminism and promiscuity continue to shock, but the writer refuses to sentimentalize or pull punches, even (or especially) when the subject is himself."
A memoir that engages on a number of levels, as a pivotal literary figure recounts his productive Parisian years. Read full book review >
JACK HOLMES AND HIS FRIEND by Edmund White
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Jan. 17, 2012

"One of the best novelists at work today, White spins an entangling—and thoroughly entertaining—yarn."
Top-flight novelist White (City Boy, 2009, etc.) returns with a bittersweet story of the love that dared not speak its name until about the winter of 1963. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Oct. 1, 2009

"Full of small provocations—among them, 'I sometimes regret the invention of the category ‘gay' '—this is a welcome portrait of a time and place long past, and much yearned for."
From renowned novelist and essayist White (Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel, 2008, etc.), a graceful memoir of a decidedly ungraceful time in the life of New York City. Read full book review >
RIMBAUD by Edmund White
NONFICTION
Released: Oct. 6, 2008

"The latest gem in the publisher's already glittering Eminent Lives series."
Brief but illuminating biography of the troubled and troubling French poet. Read full book review >
HOTEL DE DREAM by Edmund White
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 4, 2007

"A minor effort, but a nice tribute to some of the author's literary progenitors."
Dying of tuberculosis, Stephen Crane dictates a novel about a boy prostitute in another fact-based fiction from White (My Lives, 2006, etc.). Read full book review >
MY LIVES by Edmund White
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: April 1, 2006

"White can be viewed here and in his other works, no matter what their subjects, as a quintessential travel-writer: His cultural, historic and artistic perceptions, as well as his sensory descriptions, are sharp and deeply perceptive, creating a rich sense of time and place."
The prolific novelist, memoirist and biographer (The Married Man, 2000, etc.) journeys through a lifetime of family, friends, lovers, work and play—at home and abroad. Read full book review >
FANNY by Edmund White
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 10, 2003

"A brilliantly structured, wonderfully engaging tragicomedy of historic and panoramic yet human proportions."
Novelist and memoirist White (The Flâneur, 2001, etc.) obviously had a ball playing within the double framework of this purported biography-gone-astray of Victorian radical Fanny Wright by hack novelist and travel writer Frances Trollope, Anthony's mother. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: March 1, 2001

"Even the most sophisticated readers will learn much from these erudite perambulations."
The renowned novelist (The Married Man, 2000, etc.) offers an intensely personal portrait of one of the world's great metropolises. Read full book review >
THE MARRIED MAN by Edmund White
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 1, 2000

"A wise, sorrowful tale. "
White leaves the first-person, autobiographical world of his trilogy (The Farewell Symphony, 1997, etc.) and portrays a romance—and its dissolution—across three continents and six countries with his characteristic wisdom and sexual frankness, darkened by a new sense of foreboding. Read full book review >
THE FAREWELL SYMPHONY by Edmund White
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 10, 1997

This long, rich fiction, set mostly in Manhattan and Paris, concludes White's autobiographical trilogy—and falls somewhere in quality between the pellucid excellence of A Boy's Own Story (1983) and the mannered redundancy of its sequel, The Beautiful Room Is Empty (1988). Here, the story of a generation—the one that originated the gay liberation movement in the late 1960s, then began dying out a few years later with the AIDS pandemic—is compressed into the remembered experiences of its narrator, a bereaved lover mourning the deaths and looking backward over 30 years' worth of sexual adventuring and slow progress toward maturity and success as a writer. White gives a good graphic picture of bohemian Paris in 1968, and elsewhere offers unusual perspectives on familiar locales (cruising at the Colosseum in Rome, observing ``Fire Island as an exact analogue of medieval Japan''). The novel's signal weakness is the sameness of the many, many men who wander in and out of the narrator's life (his recently deceased lover Brice is scarcely a character at all; on the other hand, Jamie, a sybaritic NYC ``blueblood,'' exhibits a cockeyed charisma that fully justifies the narrator's exasperated fascination with him). White writes plaintively about the disappointments of aging and losing one's sexual allure, and convincingly connects the decline of phallic power with the fear of literary senescence. If he's a bit smug about the mores and pleasures of being a gym rat, he writes vividly, and always amusingly, about the mechanics and etiquette of ``tricking.'' White's unmatched ability to communicate the tension between asserting one's right to be ``different'' and yearning to be accepted as ``normal'' is brilliantly displayed again. Nothing human is alien to him, and none of his alienated souls is anything less than achingly human. (First serial to the New Yorker; Book-of- the-Month selection) Read full book review >
OUR PARIS by Edmund White
NON-FICTION
Released: Nov. 6, 1995

White and Sorin's Paris isn't exactly like yours or mine: High-fashion designer Azzedine Alaãa lives next door, Julian Schnabel is their host for dinner, and White has the enviable opportunity to introduce another Julian (Barnes) to Tina Turner. ``I haven't read Flaubert's Parrot yet, but I have it on my bedside table,'' she assures the author. This delightful little book is full of such snippets of harmless gossip, often about the not-so- famous people who are indispensable to Parisian life: the concierge, the fruit-and-vegetable man, the cafÇ waiters who serve croissants to Fred, the authors' basset hound. White is, of course, the author of novels (A Boy's Own Story, 1982, etc.) and an award- winning biography of Jean Genet (1993). Sorin was his lover, an architect turned illustrator who died last year of AIDS. They embarked on this joint project during Sorin's illness. It is remarkable, then, how full of life his witty drawings are, and White's text is written in the same spirit, acknowledging but never succumbing to Sorin's impending death. ``Despite the sometimes catty sound of this book, . . . its subtext is love,'' he writes. Read full book review >
SKINNED ALIVE by Edmund White
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 18, 1995

A depressing, disappointing first collection from accomplished gay biographer, novelist, and essayist White (The Burning Library, 1994, etc.). All eight stories here suffer from the weight of dread. In ``Pyrography,'' the fear is that of gay teen Howard, on a camping trip with two straight friends, while ``Running on Empty'' chronicles an American expatriate's visit to his relatives in Texas—a visit plagued by the young man's terror that his HIV infection will explode into full-blown AIDS and leave him at the mercy of the strangers who are his family. In ``An Oracle,'' Ray loses his longtime lover to AIDS, then goes to Greece, where he has a mindless fling with a male hustler. Here, as in most of the pieces, White enumerates the habits, traits, and tendencies of his characters, usually in the past tense, never letting them evolve, never letting them breathe with any verisimilitude. ``She had little sense of the dramatic possibilities her life provided,'' he comments of a woman in ``Running on Empty''—a remark that, unfortunately, could also be made about the author's depiction of all his characters, including those in, say, ``Palace Days,'' in which two New Yorkers move to Paris after the glory days of gay liberation end abruptly with the onset of the AIDS epidemic; they try fatally to keep their voracious and unsafe sexual appetites fed as friends and former lovers die off all around them. Throughout, the volume is filled with intelligence and clever, wry observations (``Like other brilliant men and women he dissolved every solid in a solvent of irony,'' the emotionally barren narrator of the title story says of another narcissistic American in Paris), but these moments are isolated and never connect into a coherent vision as they do so brilliantly in White's nonfiction. A dour side-trip by the well-traveled White. Read full book review >
THE BURNING LIBRARY by Edmund White
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: Oct. 12, 1994

Spanning 25 turbulent years in gay history and his own career as a writer, a collection of White's (Genet: A Biography, 1993, etc.) frequently humane and perceptive essays. Whether literary or sociological, the essays gathered here thematically divide neatly into sections by decade: the efflorescence of the gay movement in the '70s; the growing effect of the AIDS crisis on the gay community in the '80s; and finally, the grief and anger of the '90s. The first essay, the never before published ``The Gay Philosopher,'' is White's hopeful self-assertion and self-examination as a homosexual, written in the year of the Stonewall riots; and the last, ``The Personal Is Political,'' looks back in some bitterness over his development as a novelist trying to reach both straight and gay readers and the devastation of AIDS. Most of these pieces were written for such publications as Vanity Fair, the Times Literary Supplement, and the New York Times Book Review, for White writes for the humanistic audience of the Common Reader. His acutely discerning surveys of writers like Tennessee Williams, Christopher Isherwood, and Jean Genet are aesthetically, not ideologically, driven; their homosexuality is presented as a fact to be examined, like their works, not as an issue to be propagandized. A stylist influenced by Nabokov and Proust, White is surest when examining words themselves—whether the poetry of James Merrill or the etymology of queer slang—but he displays a novelist's penetrating skepticism in addressing such contentious matters as straight-gay friendships, racial attitudes, or the '70s S&M scene. Temperamentally, though, his moderation sometimes leads to overoptimism or naive generalization when he examines broader issues of gay culture, and many of his earlier opinions are brutally undercut by the frustration of gay civil rights, the culture wars, and the deaths of friends, lovers, and artistic peers. The moving record of a moderate humanist in extreme circumstances, who is eventually overwhelmed by them. (Quality Paperback Book Club alternate selection) Read full book review >
GENET by Edmund White
NONFICTION
Released: Oct. 28, 1993

An exhaustive and perhaps definitive biography of the celebrated French writer and thief (1910-86), who looks almost human through the eyes of the much tamer White (The Beautiful Room is Empty, 1988, etc.). It's to Genet's credit that, once he became famous enough to establish a public persona, he quite frankly assumed the role of a criminal outcast. The son of an unknown father and an impoverished mother, Genet was raised in a dreary succession of orphanages and foster homes. As a child, he showed signs of great intelligence and creativity, but, as a ward of the state, he couldn't be educated for anything other than manual labor. Incorrigible and fiercely independent, he turned to theft at an early age and spent most of his adolescent years in reform schools and prisons. It was during this period that he became conscious of his homosexuality; throughout the rest of his life, he tried to insulate himself in masculine societies that re-created the brutal and isolated asylums of his youth. ``Boiling over with contradictions, Genet was cruel and sensitive,'' says White, ``a moralist who stole from friends, a petty thief who forged copies of his own quite genuine masterpieces.'' Genet's early writings—Our Lady of the Flowers and The Miracle of the Rose—brought him to the attention of Cocteau and the surrealists, but it was the patronage of Sartre that made Genet famous—and that brought him a pardon from the president of France. Ironically, Genet found it more difficult to write as a free man than as a prisoner, and, in his later years, he nearly stopped working altogether. He finally left France for Morocco (where he's buried) and took up the cause of the Palestinians. A thorough and painstaking job that, however, could have been accomplished in half the space. Scholars will find Genet essential; most others will find a lot to skim. (Useful notes; 16 pages of photographs—not seen) Read full book review >