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Named for the work by Haydn in which the instrumentalists leave the stage one after another until only a single violin remains playing, this is the story of a man who has outlived most of his friends. Having reached the six-month anniversary of his lover's death, ...
Named for the work by Haydn in which the instrumentalists leave the stage one after another until only a single violin remains playing, this is the story of a man who has outlived most of his friends. Having reached the six-month anniversary of his lover's death, he embarks on a journey of remembrance that will recount his struggle to become a writer and his discovery of what it means to be a gay man. His witty, conversational narrative transports us from the 1960s to the near present, from starkly erotic scenes in the back rooms of New York clubs to episodes of rarefied hilarity in the salons of Paris to moments of family truth in the American Midwest. Along the way, a breathtaking variety of personal connections--and near misses--slowly builds an awareness of the transformative power of genuine friendship, of love and loss, culminating in an indelible experience with a dying man. And as the flow of memory carries us across time, space and society, one man's magnificently realized story grows to encompass an entire generation.
Sublimely funny yet elegiac, full of unsparingly trenchant social observation yet infused with wisdom and a deeply felt compassion, The Farewell Symphony is a triumph of reflection and expressive elegance. It is also a stunning and wholly original panorama of gay life over the past thirty years--the crowning achievement of one of our finest writers.
Posted April 21, 2013
Posted October 20, 2004
This tome was first released in the late 90's, but it's aged very well thanks to White's considerable skill as a wordsmith. Like it (the book) or not, you've got to give White his due as a master of sentence construction. His characters (Leonard, in particular) seem like guys we met somewhere just yesterday, so they seem like old friends. Despite the too often use of French language, the story is conveyed in an intelligent, cerebral manner and goes down easy with an open mind.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 15, 2003
I was disappointed that this ersatz autobiography, reeking of self-indulgent gay foppery, has no plot. None. It moves industriously from sketch after sketch of superficially drawn minor characters basking in the diminutive light of their own egos, until by Chapter Eleven, the reader cries, ¿Enough already! End this thing!¿ And, as if the author had foreseen his reader¿s frustration, Chapter Eleven does, in fact, end it. Edmund White tries for profundity¿ or if not profundity, then sophistication. Or if not sophistication, then at least the world-weariness of an urbane gentleman who has seen it all, done it all. What he achieves after 413 pages is a revelation of himself as¿ well¿ old. It¿s sad. His 'A Boy¿s Own Story' is justifiably considered a classic, and his mastery of English, his gorgeous sentences freighted with fresh, remarkable imagery and turns of phrase worthy of Henry James or Marcel Proust are fascinating reading all by themselves. It¿s too bad all that magnificent prose doesn¿t add up to something of substance.
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Posted December 6, 2010
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