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A middle aged American works out in a Paris gym - an ordinary day, except that he catches the eye of a stranger, Julien, a young French architect with a gleam in his eye. To Austin's amused astonishment, life takes on the colour of romance. As they dash between Bohemian suppers and glittering salons, all they have to deal with are comic clashes of cultures, of ages, of temperaments. But there is sadness in Julien's past and a grim cloud on the horizon. Soon, with increasing desperation, their quest for health and happiness drives them to Rome, Venice, Key West, Montreal and Providence - landscapes soaked with feeling which lead, in the end to the bleak, baking sands of the Sahara.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099285144
ISBN-10: 0099285142
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 20mm)
Pages: 320
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 1-Mar-2001
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


UK Kirkus Review » Austin is a middle-aged gay American living in Paris in a elegant apartment, all too aware that he is 20 years older than everyone else at the gym. He has recently split up with his lover, when he meets a younger man, Julien, a good-looking but troubled architect, who claims to be on the verge of divorce. Julien quickly draws Austin into a relationship based on equality rather than game-playing but unfortunately Julien becomes ill at about the same time that Austin learns he is HIV positive. From Paris the two move to the US, and new tensions enter the relationship with Julien, who is fading fast. He dies suddenly during an ill-fated journey to Morocco. Biographer of Genet and Proust, this is White's first novel since the hautning conclusion to his acclaimed autobiographical trilogy, The Farewell Symphony. Here he writes in the third person, but loses none of the warmth and candour that made his autobiographical work so distinctive. The novel is wonderfully readable, with a plot that moves easily from social comedy to romance and finally to tragedy. He writes movingly and sensitively about the widespread effects of AIDS in a novel that is miraculously free of sentiment and politics. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » White leaves the first-person, autobiographical world of his trilogy (The Farewell Symphony, 1997, etc.) and portrays a romanceand its dissolutionacross three continents and six countries with his characteristic wisdom and sexual frankness, darkened by a new sense of foreboding.Fifty-ish, HIV-positive, and recently heartbroken Austin Smith is an American scholar living in Paris, where he writes primarily about furniture. In his gym, he meets Julien, a married French architect some 20 years his junior. With effortless narrative velocity, a romance ensues, and so does the novels travelogue, first with short excursions around the Paris area, then outward to detailed passages in Nice, Venice, Rome, Vermont, Montreal, Disney World, Key West, the Yucatan peninsula, and finally Morocco. In the early Paris sections, Austins relationship with Julien develops against a background of elegant salons, privileged expatriates, and an assimilated gay subculture, with White sharply and drolly observing social mannersas well as the ethical issue of when to tell a lover about a dread disease. Midway through the story, Austin accepts a teaching position at a university in Providence, Rhode Island; Julien divorces, leaves his firm, and follows. In something of a reversal, the Providence sections introduce complications the initial set-up didnt anticipate: Austin discovers the malignant, politically correct demagoguery of academiabut its Julien who develops the much more serious problem of full-blown AIDS. Austin compromises principles, grows if not robust than rotund, while the once apparently healthy Julien goes into a sad and rapid decline. At heart here are issues of loyalty and the suspension of the erotic in the face of a terminal disease. The music of tragedy swells to operatic proportions in Morocco, where Juliens lingering death invokes elements of the divine, the clinical, and the macabre. Here, the graphic sex of Whites earlier work is replaced with graphic medicalia, and its thematic urgency by a poignant, bone-weary resignation to the now sadly predictable injustices of life and death in the gay community.A wise, sorrowful tale. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Edmund White

Edmund White was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1940. His fiction includes the autobiographical sequence A Boy's Own Story, The Beautiful Room is Empty and The Farewell Symphony, as well as Caracole, Forgetting Elena, Noctunes for the King of Naples, and Skinned Alive, a collection of short stories. He is also the author of a highly acclaimed biography of Jean Genet, a short study of Proust, a travel book about America - States of Desire - and of Sketches from Memory, with Hubert Sorin. He is an officer of the Ordre des Arts et Lettres.

Books By Author Edmund White

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Boy's Own Story by Edmund White

A Boy's Own Story

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Inside a Pearl by Edmund White

Inside a Pearl

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