C A R Hills

The Immoralist

Arts and Letters

By

Cleis Press 364pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Edmund White, in this sprightly volume of essays and profiles, makes many a nod to antiquity, discourses on the author of L’Immoraliste, and shows diverse interests ranging from Oscar Wilde to Marcel Proust, Robert Mapplethorpe to Gilbert and George, Yves Saint Laurent to Elton John. He admits himself that the majority of his subjects are gay. He is happy that he has known most of them. Indeed, that is part of his project. At the very outset he says, ‘For some reason I had a burning need to explore my own gay identity in fiction.’ And, one might add, in everything he writes. The pieces here are all very self-referential, but this is often because White is writing about friends. His tributes to them can be touching. He dutifully praises Allen Ginsberg as a writer, but what sticks in our memory and his is that Ginsberg donated to him a beautiful boy, who first appeared naked in his hallway.


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