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Monday, February 06, 2017

A Boy'a Own Story (1982) by Edmund White


Author Edmund White
Book Review
A Boy'a Own Story (1982)
 by Edmund White

  A Boy's Own Story is the first of Edmund White's trilogy of semi auto-biographical novels about his experience of growing up gay in the American mid-West in the period after World War II.  A Boy's Own Story is set in and around Cincinnati, where White grew up the only son of divorced parents, his father a wealthy business man, and his Mother an emotionally needy divorcee largely unprepared for life as a single woman.  In light of recent progress in the field of LGBTQ rights, it is shocking that such a vanilla gay coming of age story written by a privileged, wealthy, white male wasn't published until 1982.

  A Boy's Own Story is of course set decades before publication, during the child hood of the now adult Edmund White, but it's easy to slip into thinking that A Boy's Own Story was published in the late 1960's or early 1970's .   White is frank about the sexual aspect of being young and gay.  Starting from chapter one, where he is initiated into the world of gay sex by a younger friend of the family (he calls it "corn-holing",) through the time the narrator spends as a young man in Cincinnati.

  The themes White raises about the masculinity of American men are of interest not just to LGBTQ readers, but to anyone wanting to learn about the awareness of sexuality that young men develop as they enter adolescence.   White is a hugely insightful writer, and his prose elevates the often mundane details into real art.

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