'Has everyone always been in love with you? Of course they have, who am I kidding? What did they say about Helen of Troy? That her face launched a thousand ships? That's you, you're that beautiful. A thousand ships' New York City in the eighties, and at its decadent heart is Guy. The darling of Fire Island's gay community and one of New York's top male models, Guy is gliding his way to riches that are a world away from his modest provincial upbringing back home in France. Like some modern-day Dorian Gray he seems untouched by time: the decades pass, fashions change, yet his beauty remains as transcendent and captivating as ever. Such looks cannot help but bring him adoration. From sweet yet pathetic Fred to the wealthy and masochistic Baron, from the acerbic and cynical Pierre-Georges to Andre, fabricating Dali fakes and hurtling towards prison and the abyss, all are in some way fixated on him. In return for the devotion and expensive gifts they lavish on him, he plays with unswerving loyalty whatever role they project onto him: unattainable idol, passionate lover, malleable client.
But just as the years are catching up on his smooth skin and perfect body, so his way of life is closing in on him and destroying the men he loves. Edmund White has in Our Young Man created some of the richest representations of gay male identity, from the disco era to the age of AIDs. What links them all is the allure and enchantment they find in beauty. Revelling in its magic, Our Young Man nonetheless slips beneath the seductive surface to examine its dangerous depths, exploring its power to fascinate, enslave and deceive. Mesmerising, blackly comic, and delicately crafted, this is an exquisite novel from a contemporary master.
A literary event - the most accomplished novel yet from one of the world's most prolific and well-respected authors.
Edmund White is one of the best writers of my generation; he's certainly the contemporary American writer I reread more than any other, and the one whose next book I look forward to reading most. -- John Irving Edmund White tells such a good story that I'm ready to to listen to anything he wants to talk about. The New York Times Book Review on THE FLANEUR Our Young Man is classic Edmund White, exploring the universal desire to be known, desired, accepted and at what cost. Set against the backdrop of the world of male modeling, Our Young Man takes us from France to Fire Island, exploring ideas of coming of age, coming into one's own, and coming out, themes of family, trust and identity and the devastation of the AIDS epidemic and always, in keeping true to all of Edmund White's work through the years the ineluctable nature of desire and the (sometimes failed) beauty of the human heart -- A. M. Homes Edmund White continues to chronicle, with more insight and compassion than any other writer I could name, the points at which gay life is simultaneously particular unto itself, and contiguous with universal human states. Thank you, Edmund, for insisting on our differences while reminding us, as well, that none of us is truly different, not in our innermost selves -- Michael Cunningham So funny - it's really one of his best - full of life, and so nasty -- Andrew Holleran A playful yet searching novel of gay life in the New York of Ed Koch and Studio 54 ... A closely written, multidimensional coming-of-age novel that captures a time of whispers, elaborate codes, and not inconsiderable danger Kirkus The cleanest, clearest stream of prose I've let myself into for a long time. But underneath that glitchless surface that are treacherous and unsuspecting currents and depths. The astonishing details of everything, the always-perfect similes and metaphors ... there is such richness to that cleanness. It is thrilling and mesmerising ... A gripping, profound and uproariously funny book -- Neel Mukherjee Smart, worldly, erudite, well-connected, and funny ... It's a picaresque story of one person's life and career, and a comedy of manners ... The worldliness recalls Colette's descriptions of fin-de-siecle and 1920s Paris ... Our Young Man is informative, wise, and amusing, and you can't help wondering who the originals were, though you know, of course, that it's only a novel New York Review of Books Remarkable ... America's most significant gay writer ... Categorically no retread, but rather a sprightly journey through both compelling and familiar terrain ... Our Young Man brings frivolous people face to face with some very serious subjects: our common mortality, the horrors of grief and the complex, indeterminate status of the 'survivor' ... Our Young Man is White's most elegant, realised and charming novel in decades - vital proof that, in fiction, the old hand can outplay any of the young pretenders Literary Review Beguilingly treacherous and deceptive ... impishly turning our attention towards the obvious, while subtler, weightier matters churn on elsewhere ... He never descends to savage satire. This open-heartedness, an essential White quality, makes his writing sparkle with generosity ... Every detail is alive and gleaming ... It is also a book that floats above things, so light is its touch, so playful and joyous its execution ... It is shameful, though, that we haven't managed to free White from the initially groundbreaking but now enfettering label of "gay novelist". It has blinded us to the essential allusiveness, wit and sprezzatura of his work, its conversations with other books, its effortless ability to say profound things in unsententious and gossamer-light ways -- Neel Mukherjee Guardian Eloquent, witty and insightful Pride Life Once again his writing finds itself playfully echoing Proust ... Whether he is crafting impeccable one-liners ... or dissolving them into campy dialogue, White proves that you don't have to be a supermodel to slow time down. After all, since the publication of A Boy's Own Story more than 30 years ago, his own prose style has hardly aged a day The Times White is a witty, knowing communicator whose gift is creating sharp, lively and candid narratives conveying much of the pain and fear not only of the gay community but of humanity at large. His theme is the emergence of a modern plague, AIDs. Few polemicists make their case as powerfully, or with such conversational ease, unsentimental compassion and elegance of style ... Reading this novel is similar to walking a tightrope. White, for all his urbanity, never wants to make it too easy and ensures a reader is suspended between horror and sympathy. It is an interesting place. The characters are bitchy and cruel; calculating and, even at their most camp, shockingly real ... Wise, intuitive and informed yet again in this work of bizarre charm, he explores intense seriousness with ironic humour and pathos Irish Times
Edmund White is the author of many novels, including A Boy's Own Story, The Beautiful Room Is Empty, The Farewell Symphony, and, most recently, Jack Holmes and His Friend. His nonfiction includes City Boy, Inside a Pearl, and other memoirs; The Flaneur, about Paris; and literary biographies and essays. White lives in New York and teaches at Princeton University.