Sunday, October 22, 2006

My Lives, by Edmund White

It’s been a while since I read an Edmund White book, and I forgot how much of a pleasure he is to read. My Lives is an autobiography split into chapters with titles like, My Mother, My Europe, My Genet etc., chopping the author’s life up into his intellectual interests, family, personal history, lovers. On the details of his love life, White is extraordinarily frank. Even he mocks himself by speculating that the reader must by now be saying, Enough information!

The chapter on his writing of Jean Genet’s biography I found especially interesting. When a journalist told him that he was disappointed with Genet because he had seen him dance in a pink negligee at a Black Panthers do, White said that it was impossible that such a thing could have occurred. Then later White had the story confirmed by Angela Davis, showing that the experts don’t necessarily know everything.

White was diagnosed with HIV some 20 years ago, and he’s still chugging along, seemingly happy. I hope he stays around a while longer as he’s one of those writers you really take a keen pleasure in reading

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