Richard Canning

Growing Old Gracelessly

Our Young Man

By

Bloomsbury 282pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

This remarkable novel sees America’s most significant gay writer, now well into his eighth decade, skate decorously through the preoccupations that have marked his literary career since the publication of Forgetting Elena (1973). In a roundabout way, Our Young Man returns us to the world of that first novel, if it is understood as a fantastical reimagining of the tiny, self-invented, artificial and utterly hierarchical gay community of Fire Island. Yet it incorporates elements of the devotional narrative mode deployed in White’s second novel, Nocturnes for the King of Naples (1978), as well as the worldliness of the auto-fictional tetralogy for which White is best known. Ranging from provincial France in the 1960s and 1970s to New York in the 1980s – the age of AIDS – Our Young Man is, however, categorically no retread, but rather a sprightly journey through both compelling and uncannily familiar terrain.

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