Many straight men and gay men are best friends, but if the phenomenon is an urban commonplace it has never been treated before as the focus of a major novel. Jack Holmes is in love, but the man he loves never shares his bed. The other men Jack sleeps with never last long and he dallies with several women. He sees a shrink and practices extreme discretion about his gay adventures since the book begins in the 1960s, before gay liberation, and ends after the advent of AIDS in the 1980s. Jack's friend, Will Wright, comes from old stock, has aspirations to be a writer, and like Jack works on the Northern Review, a staid cultural quarterly. Will is shy and lonely-and Jack introduces him to the beautiful, brittle young woman he will marry. Over the years Will discovers his sensuality and almost destroys his marriage in doing so. Towards the end of the 1970s Jack's and Will's lives merge as they both become accomplished libertines. Jack Holmes and his Friend deploys Edmund White's wonderful perceptions of American society to dazzling effect, as character after character is delicately and colourfully rendered and one social milieu after another glows in the reader's mind. He is a connoisseur of the nuances of personality and mood, and here unveils his very human cast in all their radical individuality. New York itself is a principle character with its old society and its bohemians rich and poor, with its sleek European immigrants and its rough-and-tumble transplanted Midwesterners. With narrative daring and a gifted sense of the rueful submerged drama of life, the novel is a beautifully sculpted exploration of sexuality and sensibility.
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An esteemed novelist and cultural critic, Edmund White is the author of many books including the autobiographical A Boy's Own Story; The Flaneur; a biography of the poet Arthur Rimbaud; Hotel de Dream, a novel; and two memoirs My Lives and City Boy. Edmund White lives in New York City and teaches writing at Princeton University. He is an Officier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and a recipient of the Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.Review :
Edmund White has three voices. First there is the storyteller, relaxed, conversational, an anecdotalist, an inspired flaneur. Then there is the poet: on every page there lies in wait a metaphor of startling precision, an image that holds and reattracts the eye. And then there is the laic philosopher, who observes human life from the highest altitudes, held aloft by vast infusions of erudition and experience. In Jack Holmes and His Friend, White's trio is in frictionless accord * Martin Amis * Edmund White is one of the best writers of my generation; he's certainly the contemporary American writer I reread more than any other, and the one whose next book I look forward to reading most * John Irving * I can't remember the last time I had this much fun with a novel. Jack Holmes and His Friend is a brilliant, moving and hilarious book from America's wittiest and most urbane writer ... Entirely unforgettable and true. A top-shelf addition to the Edmund White canon * Gary Shteyngart * The acuity of Edmund White's descriptions and the elegance of his imagery are a constant delight * Literary Review * Tender prose ... an elegant study of the paradoxes and half-truths that emerge in long-standing friendships' * New Yorker * White is a marvellous writer. Barely a page passes without some arresting metaphor [and] the social observation is just as sharp * Spectator * His are beautiful explorations of sexuality and sensibility in American society * Observer * Wonderful ... White's writing is beautiful, and he has a superb intimacy with his utterly convincing characters * Saga * A simple, rather moving celebration of platonic friendship * TLS * His narrative [has] a real density and weight ... in the dramatization of suburban life there are elements and echoes of Richard Yates's Revolutionary Road and T.C. Boyle's The Tortilla Curtain; in the exploration by an outsider of class and privilege there are elements and echoes of The Great Gatsby, Brideshead Revisited, and The Line of Beauty. It is also possible to find traces of The Age of Innocence in the way a changing city and a disappointed sensual hero are drawn ... Jack Holmes and His Friend is a comedy of manners, which ingeniously uses the system of doubling the gay hero by offering him an alter ego who is straight. This allows White to move with relish between a man who makes his friends his family and a man who makes a family * Colm Toibin, New York Review of Books * Truly comes to life when White is writing about character's sexual adventures ... White's understanding of the perverse nature of the human heart is as vivid and engaging as it is frustrating * Gay Community News *
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