City Boy: My Life in New York During the Sixties and Seventies by Edmund White

From The Telegraph:

Whitestory2_1555835f White is especially good on the city which has shaped him. He knows intimately its brand of metro-centric savviness, of “New Yorkiness”, a contagious and debilitating knowingness which he characterises as “the recognition of a thousand names and faces”. That not all of White’s names mean an awful lot to the world at large is summed up in his story of an American socialite, Marguerite Littman, who stares at a cadaverous girl beside the Cipriani pool (a favourite White location), then turns to Tennessee Williams: “Look, anorexia nervosa!” Williams replies: “Oh, Marguerite you know everyone.”

The qualities of White’s observation, frankness and subject matter are on best display in his sketch of the novelist Harold Brodkey. “Everyone in New York was curious about him, but few people outside the city had ever heard of him.” Perhaps only in New York could someone be so revered yet have published so little – save for furtive glimpses in The New Yorker of his masterpiece-in-progress, which moved the critic Harold Bloom to describe his voice as “unparalleled in American prose fiction since the death of William Faulkner”. When at last The Runaway Soul was published in 1991 for an advance in excess of $1 million, it promptly went belly up. Brodkey died soon after of Aids, as did so many of White’s friends. Now, “he’s practically been forgotten”.

In New York, White reminds us, “nothing lasts” – not even friendship.

More here.