Edmond White has written 12 novels over the years, as well as nonfiction. He also teaches at Princeton, and has a long time partner. So it was a delight to pick up this novel set in the late 1950's about a mid-west college boy that moves to New York City who just so happens to be gay.
White is a master of prose and can whirl one into a world of what Jack sees and feels and how he's different. I really enjoyed the first part of this novel. Jack has always been in boarding school, then college. Boys, young men have always been around him. And he's been careful. His college days. Meeting college girls. He's a looker and can get along with anyone. Just one problem, he's never really been in love. Not until he meets Will, who's straight and really not nearly as beautiful in appearance sake, as Jack.
|Garrett Hedlund would have most definitely been my Jack in the novel.|
But the hard part is finding what does he really see in Will. I suppose its that way with all of us. We'll fall for someone that no one can quite understand, but you. Still, I would have liked to seen this flushed out more. His love for Will. Pining for Will. Of course, instead Jack just does the hormonal thing. Cruising gay bars and the like..and of course, never falling in love with anyone, except Will.
|Blake Lively would have been Alex.|
I guess what I was hoping to read about, were the trying times gays had during those days. Especially, in New York City. But as usual, Jack is unscathed. And as the first part ends so cruel for Jack. As the story becomes some what of an odd triangle between Will, Jack, and a very rich girl named Alex. ( I have a feeling this story might have been just too rich for my taste.)
"I don't believe in censoring my thoughts," she (Alex) said. - Jack Holmes and his Friend
|Max Minghella would have made the perfect Will.|
In the second part we get straight Will's side of the story, who in a sense has used Jack through conversations about Alex for Will's novel. Of course, in the long run, Will gets the girl, but gets major writer's block. I'd like the first part where Will seems to enjoy his own company. He's always writing. But soon there is the underbelly of Will, that is not so likable. This part of the story takes us on a journey of what not to do so you won't succeed in life. And I found all the characters rather unlikeable then.
Honestly, I was really hoping there would be a story..where maybe Will would take some vacations with Jack. That maybe he would lead a double life, but that didn't happen in the story. Instead, we get a mid-life crisis, and a Will I'd rather have not known. At the end, we get a very tidy conclusion.
Is it that we are not ready as readers to embrace a story where we could have some twist and turns between friendships and relationships of hetero and homosexuals? However, it was good to read a piece about a certain Americana and how we have and haven't changed over the years by our views from the foods we eat to how we live our lives.
'From an early age I had the idea that writing was truth-telling. It's on the record. It should be totally transparent'-Edmond White
|Mark Ruffalo as Will got older|
|Matthew MacFadyer as Jack got older|
"I meet Edmund White a few days before Christmas and a month after he has suffered a minor stroke; he is cautiously recovering in his Manhattan flat. On Christmas Eve, White, a little breathless but otherwise unbowed, is throwing a dinner party here for an unlikely group of people: “my first boy lover, my first girl lover and their respective mates”, plus his partner of many years, Michael Carroll. It is White’s contention, explored in his new novel, Jack Holmes and his Friend, that by and large gay men manage friendship, particularly with their exes, better than heterosexuals. “That’s the family,” he says and smiles".-Emma Brockes