cover image My Lives: An Autobiography

My Lives: An Autobiography

Edmund White, . . Ecco, $25.95 (356pp) ISBN 978-0-06-621397-2

White—a prolific essayist, novelist, biographer (of Proust and Genet), travel writer, critic and all-around man of letters—has mined the events and circumstances of his own life frequently and vividly, and has been the subject of two biographies. Wisely, he has not attempted a straightforward autobiography, but instead a collection of essays or meditations, beginning, tellingly, with "My Shrinks," an introduction to his early struggles with homosexuality and later with other problems; the psychoanalytic process led him to "the conviction that everyone is worth years and years of intense scrutiny—not a bad credo for a novelist." Essays on White's divorced parents—his conservative Republican father and hard-working, indulgent mother—are followed by "My Hustlers," which features the kind of candid writing about sex and relationships that has made White a gay icon. His close women friends aren't neglected, nor is the expatriate life he has often described before, including his friendship with French philosopher Michel Foucault. White delivers more on sex than any other subject (which will please many of his fans), but there's plenty more in these gracefully written pieces to engage the intellect, the emotions and even that part of us that responds to name-dropping. For a Princeton professor, White gets around. Photos. (Apr. 1)