Gerhard's Reviews > Jack Holmes and His Friend

Jack Holmes and His Friend by Edmund White
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May 25, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2012, favorites
Read in May, 2012

Extraordinary account of changing sexual mores over the decades, as seen through the prism of two lifelong male friends, charting their lives, loves, hopes, dreams, trysts, lowpoints and epiphanies. This is by no means a 'gay only' book -- White writes as bawdily, and as tenderly, about cunt as he does about cock (this is a gorgeously filthy, erotic, pulse-pounding book). Heartbreakingly real, one really gets to live in the skin of Jack and Will and their coterie of friends and lovers.

The only other writer I can think of who can delve into sordidness with such familiarity and gusto is Samuel R. Delany. White is unafraid to show the darker side of the gay experience, the sex addiction, the loneliness, the prejudice, and the human cost. Interestingly, this is probably one of White's most life-affirming books to date -- the ending is sublime.

God, I cannot get over how much I loved this book, probably because it struck so many chords with some of my own experiences. Exquisite.

p95: He could picture the imprint of an oily body on the bedticking thrown onto the floor ... the smell of the sixties: ass and incense.

p317: "Love," I said, "isn't an achievement. It's like a sonata. Once you've finished playing it, nothing remains. Not even sounds in the air."

p319: Were cock and cunt the most important things in life? The big, red, slippery heart of a couple?
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