Edmund White's gifts as an author are indisputable. Whether he sweeps us along in schlastic AND entertaining bigoraphies(Genet and Proust), explores the tenderness of gay relationships ( The Beautiful Room is Empty, A Boy's Own Story, The Farewell Symphony, etc) or just simply writes a novel like his current "The Married Man", he continues to affirm his gifts of powerful imagery, unique observation of the mundane, and just plain story telling. But I find this current book more than the sum of his gifts; I think we have a powerful parable here that addresses the vulnerability and indomitabilty of the human spirit in times of profound stress. Others have accomplished this in writing about the Great Plague of the Middle Ages, the Holocoaust of the last centtury, the countless wars that have produced some of our best poets ( Wilfrid Owen, Walt Whitman, WH Auden, Siegfried Sassoon, etc....). White draws upon the blight of the AIDS epidemic and its smoldering...
"The Married Man" is Edmund White's finest. It's moving, lyrical (as his novels always are), passionate--and even has a plot (not to say I didn't enjoy his books that seemed to lack a plot). Never one to avoid or sugar-coat life's realities, in this novel White explores the challenges of a sero-discordant couple, the problems encountered when a former lover and a current one can't stand each other, and the issues that face couples of divergent ages, incomes, national origins, and native tongues. Anyone who's ever been in love knows that a romance is built on details, but White focuses on the details that matter: a nickname, a glance, how friends view the beloved, how anger or indifference or frustration affect the relationship. White's characters are never one-dimensional, but finely nuanced, alive and seared into memory. In my opinion, no one writes place descriptions as vividly as White: One can almost imagine oneself at the café in Paris alongside his...
I was just as transfixed by "The Married Man" as I was by "The Farewell Symphony," Edmumd White's previous novel. Although the two books have much in common, the major difference is that while "Symphony" is a decades-long account of White's life, "The Married Man" covers a briefer period, focusing closely upon his relationship with the French lover he met while living in Paris (who was married when White met him, hence the title). When the main character (let's call him "White") meets the French man, Julien, who will become his lover, we're amused at how White can be so attracted to this quirky architect in his shabby lime-green coat. White likes to dwell on telling details, and his ability to describe these details so perfectly is what makes him a writer of such genius. He depicts Julien with affectionate satire, describing the architect's shabby clothing with the same relish that he describes what he loves about...
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