Edmund White talks with Steve Kraske about his coming of age as a gay man, encounters with famous names and cultural icons, and the inner struggle that he and many other men of his generation faced.
When Edmund White left the Midwest after college he had an opportunity to pursue a PhD at Harvard; instead, he followed a lover to New York City.
White's new memoir City Boy: My Life in New York During the 1960s and '70s is at once a memoir of the social and sexual lives of New York's cultural and intellectual in-crowd and White's own story of his twenties and thirties and his formation as an author.
White arrived in New York broke and unknown, struggling to express himself as a gay man.
New York wasn't faring much better; it was a grungy, dangerous, bankrupt city where garbage piled up during the long strikes of the sanitation workers and when a major blackout led to days and days of looting.
White and his friends wore whistles around their necks so they could summon help from other gay men when they were attacked by the gangs when they left Greenwich Village on their way to the West Side leather bars.
Steve Kraske talks with Edmund White about this time of enormous intrigue and artistic tumult, White's encounters with famous names and cultural icons from James Merrill to Elizabeth Bishop to William Burroughs; Harold Brodkey to Susan Sontag to Jasper Johns.
White's autobiographical novel A Boy's Own Story, made him one of America's most celebrated gay writers.