In the New York of the 1970s, in the wake of the Stonewall uprising and in the midst of economic collapse, you might find Jasper Johns or William Burroughs at the next cocktail party, and you were as likely to be caught arguing Marx at the New York City Ballet as cruising for sex in the warehouses and parked trucks along the Hudson. This is the New York that Edmund White portrays in City Boy: a place of enormous intrigue and artistic tumult. Combining the no-holds-barred confession and yearning of A Boy's Own Story with the easy erudition and sense of place of The Flâneur, this is the story of White's years in 1970s New York, bouncing from intellectual encounters with Susan Sontag and Harold Brodkey to erotic entanglements downtown, candidly portraying the burgeoning gay scene of artists and writers.
"That peacock's tail, those stag's antlers—they're here, to be sure, but so are vulnerability, doubt, failure and long years toiling at the sort of cruddy day jobs that most literary writers know all too well.... In City Boy, White is amusing and raucous as ever but he also lets the mask slip.... His losses and struggles, as consequence, seems less sculpted, but more real.... Some stories don't need to be embellished to glow."—NYTBR
"An open-throttled tour of New York City during the bad old days of the 1960s and early '70s ... it's all here in exacting and eye-popping detail.... There is a great deal of sex and gossip in City Boy, but it is also a minor-key account of Mr. White's coming of age as a writer.... City Boy is Mr. White's second memoir in three years, and a great deal of his fiction has been autobiographical. You get the sense of a writer slowly peeling his life like an artichoke, letting only a few stray leaves go at a time.... This one is salty and buttery, for sure. Mr. White's 'Oh, come on, guys' meekness has vanished into thin air."—NYTimes
"How [the author] overcame setbacks and confronted his insecurities to eventually write 23 books makes for fascinating reading. Along the way, he notes how Fun City became Fear City with the AIDS crisis, and he recalls meeting everyone from Borges, Burroughs and Capote to Peggy Guggenheim, John Ashbery, Susan Sontag, Robert Mapplethorpe and Jasper Johns. White writes with a simple, fluid style, and beneath his patina of pain, a refreshing honesty emerges. This is a brilliant recreation of an era, rich in revels, revolutions and leather boys leading the human tidal wave."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)