Cover image for
City boy : my life in New York during the 1960s and '70s
White, Edmund, 1940-

Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Physical Description:
297 pages ; 22 cm
Pub Date:
Bloomsbury USA, 2009.


Home Location
Material Type
Shelf Number
Adult Biography Book B W583
Adult Biography Book B W583

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In the New Y ork of the 1970s, in the wake of Stonewall and in the midst of economic collapse, you might find the likes of Jasper Johns and William Burroughs at the next cocktail party, and you were as likely to be caught arguing Marx at the New York City Ballet as cruising for sex in the warehouses and parked trucks along the Hudson. This is the New York that Edmund White portrays in City Boy : a place of enormous intrigue and artistic tumult. Combining the no-holds-barred confession and yearning of A Boy's Own Story with the easy erudition and sense of place of The Flaneur , this is the story of White's years in 1970s New York, bouncing from intellectual encounters with Susan Sontag and Harold Brodkey to erotic entanglements downtown to the burgeoning gay scene of artists and writers. I t's a moving, candid, brilliant portrait of a time and place, full of encounters with famous names and cultural icons.

Author Notes

Author Edmund White was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on January 13, 1940. He majored in Chinese at the University of Michigan. Before spending a year in Rome, he worked for Time-Life Books from 1962 until 1970. Upon his return, he became an editor for The Saturday Review and Horizon. He lived in France from 1983 until 1990. His works have chronicled gay life with such books as A Boy's Own Story, The Beautiful Room Is Empty, and The Farewell Symphony.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* In the 1970s, it was a grungy, dangerous, bankrupt city without normal services most of the time. Some Third World place? No, it is New York City that distinguished novelist and biographer White is talking about. The conditions of New York at its nadir as a successful urban center, reviled by the rest of the country as well as by itself (although White drew emotional and intellectual sustenance from it), forms one of the central themes woven into the author's colorfully detailed remembrance of the cultural adjustments he made when he moved from the Midwest to the Big Apple in 1962. The concomitant aspects of his life at the time, and thus the two other major threads of his life story told here, were a toughly won writing career and the emerging gay culture that he not only observed but also heavily participated in. But NYC was not the only place White resided during the years in question; he also spent time in Paris and Venice, and with his novelist's brilliance in turns of phrase in evoking these places, he also recalls the many celebrated writers he encountered over the years in his slow climb to writerly success. A special invitation to a world gone by.--Hooper, Brad Copyright 2009 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Novelist and critic White (A Boy's Own Story; The Joy of Gay Sex) weaves erotic encounters and long-ago literati into a vast tapestry of Manhattan memories. He arrived from the Midwest in 1962, worked at Time-Life Books, haunted the Gotham Book Mart and went street cruising: "We had to seek out most of our men on the hoof." In 1970, he quit his job to live in Rome, returning to find "sexual abundance" in New York. An editor with Saturday Review and Horizon, White knew artists, writers and poets, yet his own writing remained at the starting gate. He fictionalized Fire Island rituals for his first novel, Forgetting Elena (1971), which took years to find a publisher and then sold only 600 copies. Nabokov later labeled it "a marvelous book," ranking White along with Updike and Robbe-Grillet. His second novel, about hetero/homosexual friendships, was never published, yet he "longed for literary celebrity." How he overcame setbacks and confronted his insecurities to eventually write 23 books makes for fascinating reading. Along the way, he notes how Fun City became Fear City with the AIDS crisis, and he recalls meeting everyone from Borges, Burroughs and Capote to Peggy Guggenheim, John Ashbery, Susan Sontag, Robert Mapplethorpe and Jasper Johns. White writes with a simple, fluid style, and beneath his patina of pain, a refreshing honesty emerges. This is a brilliant recreation of an era, rich in revels, revolutions and "leather boys leading the human tidal wave." (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved