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A Boy’s Own Story – Ed...
 
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Edmund White
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A Boy’s Own Story – Edmund White (The Edmund Trilogy #1)

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  3,640 ratings  ·  137 reviews
An instant classic upon its original publication, A Boy's Own Story is the first of Edmund White's highly acclaimed trilogy of autobiographical novels that brilliantly evoke a young man's coming of age and document American gay life through the last forty years.

The nameless narrator in this deeply affecting work reminisces about growing up in the 1950s with emotionally al...more
Published 2008 (first published 1982)
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mark monday
Edmund White portrays his younger life in a narcotic and poetic style. not exactly the most flattering self-portrait... the protagonist's travails are emotionally affecting yet he remains creepily distanced from the events and people in his own life - in particular from his equally creepy, distant, self-absorbed father. the apple does not fall far from the tree, i suppose. overall, the language is some of the most beautiful, in my experience, of all of gay fiction - rivaling even Giovanni's Room...more
K.D. Absolutely
Mar 07, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
Shelves: 1001-core, gay-lit
A book about a gay boy in the US during the 50's. This coming-of-age story is peppered with lyrical prose and said to be an instant hit when it was first published in 1982. Considering that the setting of the story is in the heartland of the conservative US and it was in the 50's (before the rock n roll era), the difficulties that the author of this semi-autobiographical novel went through to fight for his desire to be loved (by men including his father) are something worth knowing. As the blurb...more
Eric
The last of White's novels that I picked up, and to be honest I wasn't expecting any surprises. Was I stupid! I cringe when I hear this book praised as if it were the first and best thing White ever wrote...but it is very good. After the fervid manner of Nocturnes for the King of Naples (still my favorite of his books) White took to heart Isherwood's advice to write more plainly. The style he achieves in this book is a marvel. A formal chasteness that doesn't trammel lyricism, a clarity that doe...more
Magid
There's a kind of bittersweet loneliness/excitement at sexual awakening that most gays will intrinsically understand and that White always manages to caputure so perfectly. Somehow, he romances the unromantic, charming us with images of cruising in parks and getting STD's.
Bee
This wasn’t what I expected to find when I picked this book. I expected a story based on a real life experience…what it turned out to be was a collection of anecdotes from a life, tied together loosely through a vaguely chronological perspective and a bunch of generously worded descriptions of people, emotions and locations.

The narrative is personal and from the foreword we learn that it is indeed an autobiographical story. The author also lets us know that he was an addict while he wrote this...more
Patrick
An account of growing up queer when growing up queer wasn't as mainstream as it is today. I think will appeal almost universally to a gay audience, but also to anyone who has felt different or like an outsider. It also deals with some interesting father-son issues.
Tancredi
Prima parte di una tetralogia autobiografica, questa storia di un giovane americano si distingue per la sua accecante bellezza in un panorama ricco di storie simili.
Il racconto scordinato, non progressivo cronologicamente, con salti improvvisi avanti e indietro nel tempo, scardina di fatto la classica struttura del bildungsroman, liberandolo dalle grinfie del genere e permettendogli di librarsi in volo. I pochi, ma sostanziosi capitoli, sono quasi delle storie indipendenti, che mostrano lo stess...more
Caris
I don't know what the deal was. I just couldn't get into it. I really liked The Beautiful Room is Empty. This one seemed more fragmented. I started getting into the second half, when he went off to boarding school. That was when the pace started to pick up.

I didn't care much for his relationship with his father, though it played a role later in his life. It was kind of interesting that he fantasized about being his father's lover, not unlike Allen Ginsberg. I haven't heard much about a homosexu...more
Shelter Somerset
To be sixteen again, curled up on a bed devouring a novel in one afternoon! Of course, in 1982--the year ABOS was published--few gay-themed novels were readily available. I was lucky to live in an area with a public library that stocked the book. The 1980s: the apex of gay fiction (written by gay men for gay men). A celebration of the American spirit, with a homoerotic twist. The essence of individuality. Man versus society. American authors fed us the antihero (from surname-less Ishmael to drop...more
April
I’ve been eager to acquire this book for some time now and although I didn’t enjoy it nearly half as much as I thought I would, I’m still pleased I finally managed to read it. Here we go:

A Boy’s Own Story features a nameless protagonist living in America and struggling to discern his own identity through an intangible web of pain, loneliness, and homophobia. After a somewhat innocent commingling with a younger boy, purely for experimental (read: pleasurable) purposes, he begins to realise his fe...more
Aloysius
This book starts out well, giving an interesting evokation of a gay man's youth in the Midwest, small town America, but when the main character enters boarding school, it veers off course and I lost interest. In the end, White's story supposedly autobiographical comes off as a bit difficult to believe, as though halfway into the composition he decided his goal was not to write a realist rendering of his life, but to shock and be sensationalist. Perhaps in the time it was written, there was some...more
Mike Mills
A collection of anecdotes and vignettes strung together to tell a story of a boy growing up gay in 1950's Midwest, small town America. While it started off great, with stories of his home life, especially his relationship with his father. But by the time he got to boarding school, the narrative becomes very convoluted and disconnected at times. We are suddenly introduced to numerous tragic and off-beat characters in a short amount of time. These characters, whether positive or negative influence...more
Robert
Edmund White is the type of writer who freely uses words like “uxorious” in his novels without batting an eyelash. Thus it’s small wonder it was such a chore for me to plod through this book back as a young twentysomething - my little punkass simply wasn’t ready for such writerly erudition and I henceforth banned Mr. White to the shameful rank of Privileged Irrelevant Old Gay White Male Writer (PIOGWMW), basically the literary equivalent of a Sweater Queen to my judgmental young mind. But that’s...more
Haengbok92
Sep 04, 2007 Haengbok92 rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who grew up to the beat of their own drummers
This book is chock-full of beautiful prose and a cast of varied and unique characters that cling to you after the pages are closed. It's a window into the life of a young homosexual boy growing up in the fifties, his relationships with his parents, friends, and other mentors--both positive and negative--in his life. I think there is a lot to relate to here, whether you are gay, straight, or bi. Some sections definitely made me laugh out loud, others raised by eyebrows to my hairline.

At the same...more
Josh
If he wasn't writing about gay men, he would be as famous as any major modern author. From what I've read of the modern canon, he and Toni Morrison are the best writers. I didn't mind the nonlinear, even random, sequencing of the book. His metaphors and imagery are so stunning and so specific. The book isn't the most emotional, by design I imagine, but you can identify with his passing summations of what the character is feeling at any given moment. White really spells out what it's like, more t...more
Vanessa
This book is often named as a classic gay coming-of-age story. It is well-written and readable, but beyond that I found it utterly depressing. The main character seems to always be looking for love, or at least some emotional connection, but only finds sex (sometimes exploitative) and ultimately, ways to manipulate others with sex. I wanted to care about him, but by the end it was a very unlikeable fellow that I closed the book on.
Valerie
May 29, 2011 Valerie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Valerie by: Alex
Shelves: gblt-friendly
The anguish this young man feels about his sexuality, both the coming of age and the realization that he is actually a homosexual, is so beautifully written. The author's verbal cleverness makes erotic poetry out of the most mundane features of growing up. Of course, this made me think of all the young men who don't fit in, and feel bullied and desperate as they sense the growing gulf between themselves and their age-mates.
Ethan
I enjoyed this quite a bit, and I appreciate how White resisted the impulse to describe coming of age as a linear narrative. Instead he jumps around, and things happen, not necessarily with any particular order, and it feels a lot more genuine. I love his almost flamboyant prose, and I'm very curious to read the next book in his coming of age series.
Mark
remember reading this over 15 years ago and being struck by the harshness and lack of empathy on the part of the 'hero'. Picked it up again a couple of days ago and in just looking at random here and there found my opinion hadn't really changed. Cold and manipulative. I do love White's style of writing but not his characters
Karan
A good read. A very different writing style. Interesting structuring. Hoping that the two sequels in the trilogy make up for unfulfilled expectations in this one. Going to write a book review on the book soon on my blog www.karanvohraart.blogspot.in
Méchant Loup
I read this so long ago i can't, can't give it justice. i just remember it being short, raw, and sad to pieces.... thats my lasting impression since five/ten? years ago.
David Gee
First published in 1983, the opening volume of Edmund White's three-part autobiographical novel sequence made its way onto my re-reading list after an article in Polari, the gay online magazine. This novel in the form of a memoir deals with the 1950s boyhood of his unnamed protagonist, watching his parent' marriage dissolve, moving from the country to the city with his mother and sister, beginning to discover a love of books and realizing that he is gay. The narrator is a hopeless romantic: afte...more
Danielle
A Boy's Own Story is the first in a trilogy of semi-autobiographic novels centered around the unnamed narrator's queer sexual identity and experiences from his childhood in 1950s America on into early adulthood. For ease of reviewing this book, I will name the narrator 'Teddy' from here on. (He seems like a Theodore to me; his family is monied, he attempts to cultivate a sense of charm about him and his is bookish.)

Teddy is a highly observant child and honest narrator, who shares with us his sha...more
Larry Buhl
"A memoir of gay teen's coming out journey in the 50s" might sound a bit precious, or pretentious, or too navel-gazing. It is all of those things, for better or worse. But the prose is stunning - florid, and perhaps too studied and measured for even the most precocious teen, but that's its strength. White's use of language is lyrical, dreamlike (almost narcotic), surprising and yet precise.

On one of his sexual encounters:
"Well yeah, but since there aren't any girls around." I felt like a scient...more
Khenpo Gurudas
I found this autobiographical novel interesting, having read it as a very young man myself, in 1982. White's somewhat lyrical and evocative narrative has been considered one of the great pieces of LGBT literature. And I will agree that it was a captivating novel.

I am uncertain of the whole "great LGBT literature" concept itself, because many of those books that get categorised with White's work are not, in my opinion, of the same calibre or literary style of this book. White writes in the style...more
Allison Welker
A Boys Own Story by Edmund White
2 stars

The narrator is a teenage boy growing up in blue collar America in the 1940's or 50's. Things around him are changing and he doesn't know what to do, mainly with is sexuality. He isn't the only one at the time trying to deal with being gay but this is his story. After coming to terms with his reliance on his mother he convinces his father to send him to boarding school where he tries desperately to fit in but after a year he hasn't gotten much further of...more
Ed
First published in 1982 and considered by many to be one of the finest works with a gay coming-of-age theme, Edmund White’s A Boy’s Own Story is a nonlinear narrative of a young boy growing up in post-World War II middle America and the struggles he has coming to terms with his homosexuality, an all too common occurrence for those of us from that generation or earlier. This is a pretty cheerless story and one that will make most readers feel uncomfortable, despondent or both when they read it. W...more
La Stamberga dei Lettori
Prima parte di una tetralogia autobiografica, questa storia di un giovane americano si distingue per la sua accecante bellezza in un panorama ricco di storie simili.
Il racconto scordinato, non progressivo cronologicamente, con salti improvvisi avanti e indietro nel tempo, scardina di fatto la classica struttura del bildungsroman, liberandolo dalle grinfie del genere e permettendogli di librarsi in volo. I pochi, ma sostanziosi capitoli, sono quasi delle storie indipendenti, che mostrano lo stes...more
Jamie
An enjoyable little bildungsroman, from the vantage point of a gay child/teenager from a wealthy but broken family. White's style inclines to the good, but he can be a bit too 'knowing' at times--his cultural reference points seem to be his own, rather than his protagonist's, at times. I realize this is at least in part a loosely autobiographical novel, but there were moments where I'd find myself thinking "Does this 13 year old boy really know anything about Proust?" and those moments did take...more
Jack
A gritty journey of a boy into a young man. It is like a train wreck: You can't look, you cant look away. *Contains Spoilers* I have mixed feelings towards this text.

I found that the protagonist unpleasant and manipulative Dispite this White does have a way with words, we can get a good sense of his characters and locations. White is very articulate, this book is very well crafted. Giving us powerful insight into the devides between gender, race and wealth. What kept me going is to see where Wh...more
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Edmund White's novels include Fanny: A Fiction, A Boy's Own Story, The Farewell Symphony, and A Married Man. He is also the author of a biography of Jean Genet, a study of Marcel Proust, The Flâneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris, and, most recently, his memoir, My Lives. Having lived in Paris for many years, he is now a New Yorker and teaches at Princeton University. He was also a membe...more
More about Edmund White...
The Beautiful Room is Empty The Flaneur The Married Man Jack Holmes and His Friend The Farewell Symphony

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“Sometimes I have the feeling that we're in one room with two opposite doors and each of us holds the handle of one door, one of us flicks an eyelash and the other is already behind his door, and now the first one has but to utter a word ad immediately the second one has closed his door behind him and can no longer be seen. He's sure to open the door again for it's a room which perhaps one cannot leave. If only the first one were not precisely like the second, if he were calm, if he would only pretend not to look at the other, if he slowly set the room in order as though it were a room like any other; but instead he does exactly the same as the other at his door, sometimes even both are behind the doors and the the beautiful room is empty." Franz Kafka (in a letter to Milena Jesenska)” 8 likes
“For the real movements of a life are gradual, then sudden; they resist becoming anecdotes, they pulse like quasars from long-dead stars to reach the vivid planet of the present, they drift like fog over the ship until the spread sails are merely panels of gray in grayer air and surround becomes object, as in those perceptual tests where figure and ground reverse, the kissing couple in profile turn into the outlines of the mortuary urn that holds their own ashes. Time wears down resolve--then suddenly violence, something irrevocable flashes out of nowhere, there are thrashing fins and roiled, blood-streaked water, death floats up on its side, eyes bulging.” 3 likes
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