Edmund white in paris

09PARINI-master180Jay Parini at The New York Times:

The latest installment of White’s life story, “Inside a Pearl,” finds the celebrated author of “A Boy’s Own Story” in Paris in 1983, just after that book had been published. It’s a city White had visited before, but at 43, he felt determined to make the place his own: “I wanted Paris to be a real grown-up, pansexual adventure.” But he knew it wouldn’t be easy, given the obstacles, including “a strange language spoken rapidly, a culture that rivals and a history that far surpasses America’s, winters during which it rains every single day, an exorbitantly expensive town.”

He would, despite the difficulties, spend many years in the city Hemingway had called “a movable feast,” transforming himself from an American writer into something else. “I was too prissy, too refined, too abstemious, too French to be a good American writer,” he notes. The abstemious part refers to his having given up tobacco and alcohol, though he never stinted on good meals or sexual encounters, even after being told he was H.I.V.-positive in 1985. (He was lucky in belonging to a small group of those whose disease progresses slowly.)
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