Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris

Edmund White, Author
Edmund White. Bloomsbury, $26 (272p) ISBN 978-1-60819-582-4
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-1-4088-3786-3
Hardcover - 261 pages - 978-1-4088-2045-2
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-1-4088-3776-4
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-1-62040-633-5
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In this third memoir, acclaimed novelist, essayist, and biographer White (A Boy’s Own Story) reflects on his sexual conquests, his self-discoveries, and his observations about the differences between the French and Americans in the city of Proust, Genet, and Foucault. White arrives in Paris in the summer of 1983, takes up residence in the apartment of an N.Y.U. professor who sometimes also used it, and stays there for the next 15 years. In what becomes a tedious memoir, he chronicles his one-night stands (“What men like about anonymity is that it allows free rein to any fantasy whatsoever”) and his longer-term relationships (Hubert “loved me, and since I already thought I was impossibly old for the gay life, I felt grateful and happy,” he writes, adding, “Gratitude is my chief erotic emotion”). In flat prose, White recalls his acquaintances and friendships with Ned Rorem, Michel Foucault, and his longtime companion, Marie-Claude. He admits that during his sojourn in the City of Light, his “sex life had come down from the paradise of promiscuity it had been in the 1970s.” White does provide insightful glimpses of Paris in the late 20th century and relays his own ambivalence toward the city after all these years. (Feb.)
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