Dear Edmund White: Who cares?

Is there anyone else who finds the American author Edmund White as precious and boring as I do? (Well, I can think of at least one, who can remain nameless here.) This week’s issue of The New Yorker has White’s latest navel-gazing installment called My Women. Now the fact that Ed White is gay and always has known that he was gay makes this a doubly irritating exercise in narcissism. Why would we possibly care why a woman would get involved with him?

Edmund White came to public view in the mid-70s as part of the self-named Violet Quill, a group of New York-based gay writers who wrote some of the best gay-themed books of the era. Many of them died during the first wave of AIDS-related deaths in the 1980s. White is himself HIV+. After several early novels, he has devoted himself mostly to a series of four thinly veiled autobiographical novels and a large biography of Jean Genet. This New Yorker piece is apparently the latest installment of his life he’s foisting on the reading public. (I admit I got about halfway through the article and gave up in irritation. It is The New Yorker at its most annoying.)

The only author I can think of with an ego of similar size to White’s is the composer Ned Rorem, but at least Rorem’s published diaries have enough salacious gossip in them to make it worth turning the page to see who or what he’ll dish next. But over the years Rorem’s diaries have toned down the gossip in direct proportion to the brilliance of the music he composes.

Please don’t give me Ed White’s next book as a Christmas (or anytime) gift. Please don’t make me read any more pre-excerpts in any magazines either.

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