Ed: Edmund White
This big fat book is not for wee Gay people but is a collection of not-very short stories. The editor, Edmund White’s own writing style is ornate, and most of the stories, from America anyway, are over-written. White does not realise that “fine writing” gets in the way of narrative.
In his ‘Introduction’ he mentions the fact that an informal group of Gay (he uses the word to mean simply homosexual males) writers met in New York in th early 1980s. By 1990 most of them were dead or dying, these were men in their twentieSeand thirties in 1980.
Surely this should come across with the force of an explosion? Here, it all passes the reader by: style is everything.
The ornate language of most of the stories from America, not to mention the fact that all of the characters appear to live on air, saps one’s interest. Most of them aren’t especially interesting as stories.
Gore Vidal iSean exception to this, and William Burrough’s The Wild Boys carries the reader along, even though it is nonsense. The wonderfully name Armistead Maupin (who has written Tales of the City, a series of comic novels about San Francisco – yes, AIDSeand all) turns in a good lively story, as is to be expected.
This side of the Atlantic is different, structure is all: E M Forsters Dr Woolacott is beautifully thought-out, and well-written. It is also dead as mutton. The best piece in the book – and by far the shortest! – is Tom Wakefield’s likable slice of life Darts.
This is something of a literary person’s stroke-book and for it’s price you can get three or four honest stroke-books. It’s a book to be requested for the public library shelves, as different individuals will like and respond to different stories. But nobody could possibly like or respond to them all.