The title novella from novelist, memoirist and biographer White (Genet, etc.) turns on the guilt that gay novelist Jack, 66, feels about not visiting his dying friend Helene in Paris, and on Jack's obsession with Seth, 28, a charmless ex-Mormon sex bomb. Not much happens in "Chaos": financially strapped Jack and Seth (a "total top") meet on Craig's List and fall into a ritual where Jack pays Seth $120 for the pleasure of sucking Seth off. (White told a nearly identical story of obsession just last year in his much praised memoir My Lives, where the episode is titled "My Master.") Of the stories, only "Record Time" shines: it records what it was like to be 13 in small-town 1953, starved for culture, reduced to listening over and over to opera recordings on ancient 78s. The narrator recalls the excitement of going alone to a distant town for a screening of Cukor's famous Camille, taking the evening train home after a rain. Here the writing is thrilling, evocative, with a magic missing elsewhere in the collection. Despite that high point, even White's fans might feel entitled to sit this one out. (June)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Chaos: A Novella and Storiesby Edmund White
When a respected older man clings to the values and mores of the liberated 1970s, when he pursues sex relentlessly and his reputation suffers, Chaos ensues. White explores different aspects of aging, romance, and sex, inviting his readers to come with him to Florida, the Greek Isles, and Turkey and into the chaotic gay demimonde of contemporary New York.See more details below
When a respected older man clings to the values and mores of the liberated 1970s, when he pursues sex relentlessly and his reputation suffers, Chaos ensues. White explores different aspects of aging, romance, and sex, inviting his readers to come with him to Florida, the Greek Isles, and Turkey and into the chaotic gay demimonde of contemporary New York.
White's first collection of short fiction in over a decade is a somewhat skimpy, almost slight affair, offering one novella and three stories, but the writing is generally sophisticated and sharply observant. In the semiautobiographical mode of much of White's oeuvre, this collection presents protagonists who seem to be variations on the writer, all highly cultured and cosmopolitan gay men in their fifties or sixties. (In fact, the material notably overlaps with White's recent autobiography, My Lives, begging comparison.) The title novella is a candid portrait of a once successful writer who should be poised for comfortable retirement but whose life is instead spiraling into an anxious existence of looming financial crisis, burgeoning sex addiction, and humiliating meetings with his editor. The novella explores up-to-the-minute questions about the fate of writers (as opposed to celebrities) in our cheapskate era of free online content and dumbed-down culture. The shorts include an exquisite memory piece, "Record Time," and two stories that relate affairs with younger men, one from troubled Zimbabwe and the other from privileged Turkey. For all gay fiction collections.
- Running Press Book Publishers
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- 6.00(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)
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