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.
|Publisher:||Running Press Book Publishers|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
Edmund White is the author of some twenty books, including a biography of Jean Genet, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is best known for his trilogy of autobiographical novelsA Boy's Own Story, The Beautiful Room is Empty and The Farewell Symphony. He teaches writing at Princeton. An officer of the French order of Arts and Letters, White has written a short life of Marcel Proust. His most recent book is his memoir, My Lives. He lives in New York.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Edmund White remains one of the reigning masters of committing the English language into models of communication in his intelligent, witty, wise, and compassionate novels. While some critics and admirers tend to place CHAOS: A NOVELLA AND STORIES in a lesser important ring of his work, for this reader this book works on every level. Yes, some of the ideas on which the stories are based have been the nidus for other of his more famous works, the current work (especially CHAOS) has polished the atmosphere of the plight of the aging gay man to a jewel-like presence. Reading Edmund White is as much a pleasure of the joy of reading superb prose, as it is an entry into the fascinating lives of his created characters. In 'Chaos' we meet Jack, a man whose once successful life as a writer afforded him the luxuries of satisfying his physical needs at will. Now, his career careening down toward desperation, Jack finds his gratification in hiring men for sex. His 'employees' include a strangely assembled ex-Mormon lad named Seth and an Italian club dancer Giuseppe, both of whom, while fond of Jack's kindness and patronage, always demand cash on the line, no matter the frequency of their daily episodes with Jack. Jack's cultural needs are played out in fascinating asides, moments when the intellect must emerge and steal the podium from sensuality. And it is precisely in these moments that White exercises his facility with the language. 'Both statements were more or less true, but these half-shades became startlingly emphatic colors only because it was easier to write declarations than nuances - and sentences, once awakened on the page, began to rattle and writhe in their own direction, dangerous and hissing and no longer submissive to meaning'. Each of the four stories carry the theme of aging, of recollection, of longing for the unattainable made out of grasp because of the erosion of time. 'Time was speeding up just as it was running out, like the last of the water draining form the sink'. But the manner in which Edmund White carves these tales is not one of desperation, of nihilism. His characters retain the sensual longing yet the inherent dignity of the Marschallin of 'Der Rosenkavalier'. And the stories are just about that operatic. Reading Edmund White is a feast, beautifully prepared. Grady Harp