Author(s): Keith Fleming
Fact and fiction - this work talks about the dual lives of Edmund White. This is an intimate biography of the legendary gay cultural icon, contrasting White's own vivid fictionalised accounts with Fleming's prosaic account of his childhood and family relations. Edmund White's boyhood is of enduring interest. Beyond fascination - still prevalent - with the individual and the icon, it stands out as an almost excruciatingly intense embodiment of the many themes of gay youth. Forced from the age of three to be the best friend and "adviser" of his unhinged mother, fearful of his imperious father yet also sexually attracted to him, White evolved into a teenager who was at once a Buddhist, a cruiser of hustlers and married men, an FBI informant, an 'A' student and writer of plays and novels - including the legendary A Boy's Own Story, based on his own childhood. Fleming draws on extensive interviews to those who were closest to the young White, revealing a boyhood more extreme than the universalised version presented in A Boy's Own Story. With an endlessly readable honesty, Original Youth recaptures a childhood of almost incalculable importance.