Daphne's Reviews > Jack Holmes and His Friend

Jack Holmes and His Friend by Edmund White
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Mar 16, 2012

Read in March, 2012

I've been a fan of Edmund White ever since reading A Boy's Own Story years ago. I was excited to read a new work by him, and at first I very much liked this new novel, which begins in the point of view of Jack, a college student conflicted about his sexuality. But about halfway through the book shifts to the perspective of his friend, Will, and at that point the book deflates, simply because the voice is no longer artful; Will's sections are written in the 1st person, and though Will is supposedly a novelist himself, the prose is very flat, which made me a) not believe that Will was really a writer, and b) dislike him, for his observations about the world were themselves bland rather than insightful. The story revolves around Jack's unrequited love for Will, so to discover that Will is such a bore, as well as a jerk, warps the story in a way I don't think the author intended. I was eager to return to Jack's point of view and believed in him much more as a character.

The other strange thing about this book is that almost every scene, chapter, plot point revolves around sex--and I could not help thinking that if a woman had written this, it would be shelved as a "women's novel" for focusing on romantic life. But since it's by E. White, it's allowed to be viewed as "literature."
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(ben) i also found myself disliking Will by the end of the book, found the change in voice during the 2nd part very disengaging & the constant sex-talk somewhat unnecessary.

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