The Paris Years
For me, it is an occasion when Edmund White has a new book out. He is author that I never tire of reading and I anxiously await each book. The Paris years are part of White’s autobiography that began with “My Lives and “City Boy”. This new volume will be out in February and chronicles that period of White’s life from 1983 when he moved to Paris. He left the States (New York City) at a time that the gay community was plagued by the AIDS epidemic. He was then forty-three years old, could not speak French and actually only two people in Paris. But for him, as it is for so many who move to a new country, it was a time of anxiety and a chance to become part of and learn about a new country. By the time he returned to America some fifteen years later he was fluent in French. He had worked as a journalist and because of that he was lucky enough to get to know many people, including Yves Saint Laurent, Catherine Denueve and Michel Foucault (who I had once studied with). What allowed him to understand the French and French culture was the friendship he shared with Marie-Claude, an older woman.
As with White, his descriptions bring France to life. This was quite a change when compared to New York City. We sense the love he has for Paris and its culture and he became intellectually stimulated by it. He later became the biographer of Jean Genet and wrote studies of the lives of Marcel Proust and Arthur Rimbaud. He was rewarded by being a recipient of the French Order of Arts and Letters. This book is around his time in France and there is gossip along with a look at Paris and the pleasure that he got from that.
Since I have not yet seen the book, there is not much more than I can about it. The purpose of this article is just to let you know the book is coming soon. For those of you in the Boston area, Edmund White will be reading from this book on February 24, 2014 at the Brookline Booksmith.