‘Old, impotent, fat, feeble... with a tiny penis’
Edmund White's new novel gains not exactly a rave in the London Telegraph.
"The main character is a Sicilian aristocrat called Ruggero, whose name translates as “famous spear”. Sure enough, he’s possessed of an uncommonly large penis.... Most detailed of all is the affair Ruggero had in 2018 with the “ridiculously prolific… gay novelist” Edmund White .... The sex scenes that follow confirm White’s fondness for lurid masochism... Such masochism perhaps extends to White’s description of his 78-year-old self as “old, impotent, fat, feeble”, with an “overly inflected ‘gay’ voice” and a “tiny penis”....So what, you may be wondering, did Ruggero see in him? The answer is never clear. Then again, it’s by no means the only question that this strange and perplexing novel leaves dangling."
|by Anonymous||reply 67||March 22, 2022 12:46 AM
I realized I've never heard him him speak before. His voice is perfectly normal.
|by Anonymous||reply 1||January 18, 2022 3:50 AM
I love Edmund White. One of the greatest authors in the English language. A national treasure.
|by Anonymous||reply 2||January 18, 2022 4:05 AM
R2 Wasn’t “he’s a—or she’s a—national treasure” on the DL list of hackneyed words/terms to retire? Back in 2018 or ‘19?
|by Anonymous||reply 3||January 18, 2022 4:44 AM
I must have missed that memo, R3. I'll go kill myself now.
|by Anonymous||reply 4||January 18, 2022 7:07 PM
r1, I'm pretty sure I've seen a nude (unfortunately) and I believe his penis is at least average. I used to live near him in Chelsea, and I used to see him on Manhunt (remember when that was a thing? Is it still a thing?). I never met or chatted with him, but he must have had a nude as a public photo (unless it was posted somewhere else). Mostly I remember how very overweight he was, but I don't remember thinking his dick was anything to be ashamed of.
He likely was exaggerating all around for masochistic reasons, like the article suggests.
|by Anonymous||reply 6||January 18, 2022 7:30 PM
My first partner had an affairette with him just before we started dating (1980).
White wrote some great and important books and I liked his more recent Our Young Man, but in general, he might have done better to stop publishing about twenty years ago.
|by Anonymous||reply 7||January 18, 2022 8:42 PM
He's not a great writer. He's a good writer. I admire him for being out at a time when it was very difficult in society, and for writing about being gay, which surely has done many gaylings a world of good. But I have never been blown away by anything he's written, nor I have I ever wanted to re-read anything of his I read once.
Maybe I'm a cunt, but that's how I feel about him.
|by Anonymous||reply 8||January 18, 2022 9:02 PM
[quote] ‘Old, impotent, fat, feeble... with a tiny penis’
|by Anonymous||reply 10||January 18, 2022 10:15 PM
[quote] Felice Picano is hotter
too bad he can't write for shit,
|by Anonymous||reply 11||January 18, 2022 10:16 PM
R9. Yes, but a far worse writer.
|by Anonymous||reply 12||January 18, 2022 10:36 PM
Unfortunately he’s one of those writers who just write for the sake of writing, without anything of substance to say. And he has the Henry James disease of taking three paragraphs to say what could be said in a sentence.
He should do a Capote and go out into the world beyond his safety zone and get some raw life experience, instead of pottering around in old age verbose irrelevancy, blathering about nothing.
The best living gay writer, Andrew Holleran, hasn’t published anything for years: probably wisely because he now hasn’t got anything to say except meditations about being lonely and decrepit.
|by Anonymous||reply 13||January 19, 2022 11:28 PM
His early books were good and an important part of the emerging gay writing vanguard.
Reading the later books, which were either pure autobiography, or "fictionalized" autobiography, I realized that he had nothing new to say, and that he was not a very likeable person. That's the polite way of saying it. It shouldn't matter - my opinions of a writer's personality - but he seeped through every book and they made him and the writing weary and unpleasant.
R13 speaks the truth. Andrew Holleran is the best living gay writer. I can be astonished at just a paragraph he's written, and read it over and over in wonderment. He writes prose as poetry. I've probably read each of his books three or four times; there's always something I missed, or another insight that I hadn't seen or felt before.
I hope he's working on something - either long form or short stories. His short form writing for the magazine "Christopher Street" was always inspired.
|by Anonymous||reply 15||January 20, 2022 1:07 AM
OP‘s picture shows the archetypical “0/10” guy. That gaze!
|by Anonymous||reply 16||January 20, 2022 1:15 AM
R13, he should have pulled a Capote, stopped writing, and gone out as a raging alcoholic at 59.
|by Anonymous||reply 17||January 20, 2022 1:17 AM
R13. I agree about Holleran—in my twenties, I didn’t appreciate him, but I think, along with Andrew Sean Greer (who doesn’t always write on gay subjects), he is the best gay author still working and there is a crystalline quality to his sentences that evokes Henry James at his best.
|by Anonymous||reply 18||January 20, 2022 1:24 AM
I will still read his work. I very much liked Our Young Man. I thought he put forward the opportunities and temptations ever present for the beautiful, and was largely judgemental on how his character responded. I prefer this to Alan Hollinghurst. To me Hollinghurst seems like Jane Austen without the humor or muscular intelligence. White wrote a hilarious book, Fanny, featuring Anthony Trollope's mother! So much in that book was original. I always hope new books of his are, well, novel.
|by Anonymous||reply 19||January 20, 2022 1:33 AM
[quote] Anthony Trollope's mother! So much in that book was original.
Why pretend that he wrote something original if he has to introduce Anthony Trollope's mother as a device to make us more empathic to his so-called originality
|by Anonymous||reply 20||January 20, 2022 1:42 AM
R13- I agree Andrew Holleran is a FAR better writer than Edmund White.
Andrew Holleran write quality and EW write quantity.
|by Anonymous||reply 21||January 20, 2022 1:47 AM
I meant to say WRITES not write
|by Anonymous||reply 22||January 20, 2022 1:47 AM
I once read an interview that was published online with Edmund White. EW said something like - I rarely get cruised by guys I'm attracted to- at the time of the interview he was-
76 YEARS OLD
It just shows that ANYONE can have an attitude.
|by Anonymous||reply 23||January 20, 2022 1:52 AM
I thought you were describing Dump.
|by Anonymous||reply 24||January 20, 2022 1:54 AM
[quote] Unfortunately he’s one of those writers who just write for the sake of writing, without anything of substance to say.
Yes, he's like that Marcel Proust. Absolutely NO plot at all!
|by Anonymous||reply 25||January 20, 2022 1:55 AM
I didn't realize DL had its own resident Chunky Monkey squad of literary geniuses.
|by Anonymous||reply 26||January 20, 2022 1:55 AM
[quote] Andrew Holleran write quality and EW write quantity.
Wiki says Edmund White has produced about 4 times the quantity of stuff than Holleran.
But Edmund White wouldn't be producing all this stuff without the public paying the publishers paying White to do so.
|by Anonymous||reply 27||January 20, 2022 2:00 AM
I've enjoyed some late Edmund White--Fanny and Hotel de Dream--but Our Young Man was just trash. I have tried to read his more recent A Saint from Texas but cannot gain any traction. His early work, Nocturnes for the King of Naples and Forgetting Elena were worthwhile reads. Some of White's essays on art and literature are good. Don't forget that he won a National Book Critics Circle Award for his biography of Genet.
In the lyrical, elegant prose sweepstakes, Holleran takes the honors.
Look I'm just glad to have their work.
|by Anonymous||reply 28||January 20, 2022 2:08 AM
^ White also admits that he has to keep writing if he wants to keep eating. So, junk gets written.
|by Anonymous||reply 29||January 20, 2022 2:10 AM
So, he was workshopping the "puny cocklet" scenarios here?
|by Anonymous||reply 30||January 20, 2022 4:13 AM
A friend studied with him for a semester at Brown. This would have been about 30 years ago when White was visiting faculty there.
My friend's stories horrified me: White sounded incredibly sexist, actively favoring the male hotties (most of whom were straight) over the plainer male students (like my gay friend) and the female students. He was also a size queen then, making several inappropriate jokes to students about (I paraphrase) about how big-dicked boys can get away with anything. I don't know if he actually said that during a class, but my friend was mortified to hear it. White seemed to revel in playing some raunchy, larger-than-life character who was going to shake up these timid bourgeois students.
My friend ended up thinking a good deal less of White and his work after his time with him. Frankly, his fiction never knocked me out, but the stories were dismaying.
|by Anonymous||reply 31||January 20, 2022 5:09 AM
Michael Cunningham is (or can be, anyway) a better writer than Andrew Holleran (or Edmond White).
|by Anonymous||reply 32||January 20, 2022 5:17 AM
I liked his autobiographical, coming-of-age stuff (whether factual or not) but not anything else.
|by Anonymous||reply 33||January 20, 2022 5:36 AM
[quote]Wasn’t “he’s a—or she’s a—national treasure” on the DL list of hackneyed words/terms to retire? Back in 2018 or ‘19?
|by Anonymous||reply 34||January 20, 2022 5:38 AM
[quote] He should do a Capote and go out into the world beyond his safety zone and get some raw life experience, instead of pottering around in old age verbose irrelevancy, blathering about nothing.
I don't think [italic]Truman Capote[/italic] (of all people!) should be anyone's model for how to extend their career as a writer!
Good Lord, people give bizarre suggestions here sometimes.
|by Anonymous||reply 35||January 20, 2022 5:43 AM
[quote]But Edmund White wouldn't be producing all this stuff without the public paying the publishers paying White to do so.
Yeah, and Dan Brown's books make much, much MORE money than that. That doesn't mean they're any good.
|by Anonymous||reply 36||January 20, 2022 5:47 AM
[quote] Michael Cunningham is…
…an American journalist and intellectual thief. He stole other person's persona to dress up his second-rate woman's fiction.
|by Anonymous||reply 37||January 20, 2022 5:52 AM
MIchael Cunningham better than Andrew Holleran? Not even close.
Cunningham is commercial, and self promoting. His writing is formulaic and simple to read, and he is "famous" for having had two books made into movies. The plaudits for one of those books and the ensuing movie mystifies a lot of readers and moviegoers.
Holleran is none of that. He writes to write, not to be recognized.
But I guess all of it comes down to personal preference for a particular style of writing.
|by Anonymous||reply 38||January 20, 2022 10:43 AM
[quote]The best living gay writer, Andrew Holleran, hasn’t published anything for years
He does still write regularly for the Gay and Lesbian Review. Not fiction, I know, but it's something.
As for Edmund White, he's recently come out as a champion of Hanya Yanagihara, author of A little Life. He says her new book was “as good as War and Peace”.
I was surprised.
|by Anonymous||reply 39||January 20, 2022 11:12 AM
[quote]Cunningham is commercial, and self promoting. His writing is formulaic and simple to read, and he is "famous" for having had two books made into movies.
I guess that Pulitzer Prize (and PEN/Faulkner Award) for The Hours is just something they give out to "commercial" writers then.
I suspect you don't like him because (unlike Andrew Holleran) he has an identity as an author that goes beyond being a "gay writer."
|by Anonymous||reply 40||January 20, 2022 3:30 PM
Ridiculously prolific is a good description. Seems he just churns out stuff - whether it’s good or not.
|by Anonymous||reply 41||January 20, 2022 3:45 PM
R32 I think Cunningham is spottier (I do love "A Home at the End of the World" and "The Hours") and Holleran is more consistently stronger.
|by Anonymous||reply 42||January 20, 2022 4:12 PM
White has skill, but he often spoils his writing by telling us his Rorschach (inappropriately done by his mother), his kinks and other things for which we have no need to know. His younger bfs seem rather pathetic---more so than probably he or they realize. He does well when he draws from experience or documentary evidence but much not so much where he doesn't---the straight guy in "Jack Holmes and His Friend" seems to have come out of workshopping with students too young to know much about the character.
John Rechy was much more of a pathbreaker---he always did more with his self-aware narcissism than White does and was always more transgressive.
Hollaran's stuff is depressing but at least he doesn't feel compelled to give us so much of it.
|by Anonymous||reply 43||January 20, 2022 4:25 PM
[quote] Pulitzer Prize
Used to be a marker of talent and taste. Now it's just trendy trash.
|by Anonymous||reply 44||January 20, 2022 8:55 PM
Was he sexually compulsive? He wrote like he was.
|by Anonymous||reply 45||January 20, 2022 8:59 PM
[quote]White seemed to revel in playing some raunchy, larger-than-life character who was going to shake up these timid bourgeois students.
That's exactly what I would expect based upon reading his books.
|by Anonymous||reply 46||January 20, 2022 9:00 PM
Did anyone call him on being an attention whore.and a hackish writer?
|by Anonymous||reply 47||January 20, 2022 9:20 PM
R44: Prizes are always political, be a grown-up.
|by Anonymous||reply 48||January 20, 2022 9:35 PM
[quote] Prizes are always political
Just like Oscars.
|by Anonymous||reply 49||January 20, 2022 9:42 PM
Glad someone mentioned Rechy (whom I used to think of as John Wretched for his world view). I shot many a load reading his fervid, lusty prose.
|by Anonymous||reply 50||January 22, 2022 7:36 PM
I've tried three time to get through A Boy's Own Story and never been able to.
|by Anonymous||reply 51||January 22, 2022 7:46 PM
I apologize profusely if this derails the thread a bit but.....I somehow over the years never picked up a Rechy book. I assume City of Night is the one I should start with? Any other suggestions?
(Shamefully I haven't read Holleran or White either....I was too busy with more pedestrian fare like Maupin in my twenties.)
|by Anonymous||reply 52||January 22, 2022 7:47 PM
R52 City of Night is Rechy's best. Holleran Dancer of the Dance is one of those books people either love or hate (I'm in the latter).
|by Anonymous||reply 53||January 22, 2022 7:53 PM
I tried to read a wide range of gay fiction when I had time and access in my twenties. I was the one that snarked about Picano upthread, because I tried to read one of his books and the entire thing was "We're all all pretty, and then I fucked this guy and then these two guys and then we did this drug, and I was sad for a minute and then I sucked four more cocks, which defines me as a person!"
|by Anonymous||reply 54||January 22, 2022 7:58 PM
White is the gay Barbara Cartland.
|by Anonymous||reply 55||January 22, 2022 8:02 PM
I’m always surprised the way people here fall over themselves about Andrew Holleran. Of all the gay writers from that period I have zero recollection of anything I read by him- character, plot or setting. The other day someone dropped the name Neil Bartlett, who I haven’t thought of in three decades, and I had a better recollection of his work.
It was lite stuff I know, but I really felt very connected to Stephen MacCauley, which was Gay comfort and popcorn reading. David Levittan felt a bit more highbrow, yet still accessible. White was great for the coming out arc. Of all the books Faggots stands out as the most shocking and memorable with its ability to leave an impression. By far I like the subversive and dark nature of Dennis Cooper and I probably enjoyed his books most of and and felt he was more artistic then any of them. I wished BEE had embraced his Gay side more and I feel he’s more of a Gay adjacent author. Monette seemed too maudlin, so I never read his stuff. But Holleran, I read, but have no memory of any of his stuff, it just doesn’t register.
|by Anonymous||reply 56||January 22, 2022 8:14 PM
Picano has a VERY high opinion of himself that affects negatively all of his work. Other than selections from "Slashed to Ribbons in Defense of Love and Other Stories", he's written nothing worthwhile.
One man's opinion. And I'm one of the people that love Holleran, so consider that when I speak of Picano.
|by Anonymous||reply 57||January 22, 2022 8:21 PM
Old, fat, feeble, tiny penis....was he writing about Trump?
|by Anonymous||reply 58||January 22, 2022 8:22 PM
I really liked David Leavitt's books, even the allegedly plagiarized one, and I liked Christopher Bram, though it seemed clear by around the 3rd book he had a particular template. I enjoyed a few of Michael Cunningham's books as well.
And I loved Joe Keenan's books before I knew he was part of the Frasier writing staff. The first two in particular are a riot.
The others have slipped from my mind over the years.
|by Anonymous||reply 59||January 22, 2022 8:24 PM
Edmund tried to pick me up on Gaydar.co years ago, but he insisted on fucking BB and this was around 2007 and there was no Prep widely available yet, I declined.
|by Anonymous||reply 61||March 21, 2022 10:10 PM
I really respect how knowledgeable many of you are on here, but I do think that White has serious merits.
First of all, he's one of those writers who writes a lot. He is a writer; he writes. That's his job. So there's quite a large quantity and it'll be uneven. A lot of artists are like this; Woody Allen made a film a year in his prime. Gene Hackman and Michael Caine made a ton of movies; they liked to work. So I feel like White likes to work. It's who he is and what he does, and so he does it.
And the point about sex you all make is very well taken. Yet I think there is some value to busting open some of the PC stuff that is au courant these days. I mean, aren't we all curious who has a big dick? Like, if you find out a man you work with has a big dick, doesn't it somewhat change your view of him? Isn't he a little sexier? Don't you find yourself imagining what he looks like naked? That's what I think White is going for in his writing-- the truth. Not what might be acceptable in an English seminar at Yale, but what *really* is true.
Anyway, I need to read more Holleran! And I've never heard of Rechy before, so thanks DL. Great thread.
|by Anonymous||reply 62||March 21, 2022 10:38 PM
[QUOTE] I agree about Holleran—in my twenties, I didn’t appreciate him, but I think, along with Andrew Sean Greer (who doesn’t always write on gay subjects), he is the best gay author still working and there is a crystalline quality to his sentences that evokes Henry James at his best.
Andrew Holleran has a new novel coming out this year called The Kingdom of Sand. I think it’s been about fifteen years since his last novel but, as someone stated above, he regularly publishes articles in The Gay & Lesbian Review.
You should check out one of his mentees who studied under him in graduate school, Philip Dean Walker. Holleran blurbed his first book, At Danceteria and Other Stories, and called one of the stories in that collection (“The Boy Who Lived Next to the Boy Next Door”) a new modern classic in the literature of AIDS.
I’m a big Holleran fan and I’m really excited that we’re getting a new book from him.
I enjoyed Our Young Man. EW does seem quite prolific.
|by Anonymous||reply 63||March 21, 2022 10:48 PM
Thanks, R63, that's good to know and to be on watch for Holleran's book. He is a superb writer.
White had a very big name when i first started reading him. Wary that he would live up to the hype, I was still disappointed by his work too weighty with preciousness, like an old person or a young child who has made a little joke or done something they think is clever and takes great pain to show it off and reap admiration. He seems to have bought the hype or perhaps he brought it with him and started a bit grand, but the stream of disappointing works and the flaneuring years in Paris years put me off him. i always hoped he might surprise and produce something unexpectedly good, but i gave up paying attention.
|by Anonymous||reply 64||March 21, 2022 11:29 PM
Unfortunately, Holleran's new book is dreary; Florida eldergay spends lonely nights eating soup and cruising an X bookstore's sex booths while pining for his dead parents.
White's latest is overdone, a turducken of words.
|by Anonymous||reply 65||March 21, 2022 11:59 PM
I have a few of his books from years back. I read them right out of high school. As a young gay man I couldn’t identify with his characters. I’m GenX and he’s older and lived through a different time in history. Mostly what irked me was his characters going through a “bisexual phase”. Or at least that’s what it seemed like.
|by Anonymous||reply 66||March 22, 2022 12:16 AM
R61- Someone should say to Edmund White-
You're a WHORE darlin.
|by Anonymous||reply 67||March 22, 2022 12:46 AM