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The Best Little Boy in the World (Modern Library) Hardcover – August 25, 1998

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Editorial Reviews Review

When The Best Little Boy in the World was first published in 1973, Andrew Tobias could write about what it had felt like to begin to accept his homosexuality, but he couldn't bring himself to sign his own name to the book, for fear of embarrassing his parents. And so it was "John Reid" who became a hero to the thousands of gay males who found in this memoir a mirror for their own experiences.

Although the book appears rambling at times, Tobias always has a clear sense of where he wants to take readers with the story. He treats his closeted adolescence and college years, and his stumbling first attempts at "doing a thing" with other gay men, with a self-effacing humor that exposes his pain without descending into self-pity. And if his life seems fairly ordinary, apart from the sexual awakening ... well, that was the whole point. "You like and respect us when you don't realize we're gay," he writes in a new introduction, "so now please just continue to like and respect us once you do realize. It's not that big a deal."

From the Inside Flap

When The Best Little Boy in the World was first published in 1973, The New York Times Book Review hailed this classic account of a young man's coming to terms with his sexuality as "uniquely frank . . . a splendid book." Yet the reviewer was also disturbed that a journal about owning up to one's true identity had to appear under a pen name because of "societal bigotry."
------Happily, times have changed. Today "John Reid" can be himself and is already known to millions of readers as the witty, bestselling financial writer Andrew Tobias. To commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of his intelligent work, the Modern Library is re-
issuing The Best Little Boy in the World. Full of humor and free of guilt, it remains one of the most enduring memoirs of a generation.
------"An enlightening portrait of growing up gay in a straight world," said the Chicago Tribune. "John Reid comes out slowly, hilariously, brilliantly," wrote David Brudnoy in The New York Times Book Review. "One reads this utterly honest account with the shock of recognition."
------This Modern Library edition coincides with the publication of its sequel, The Best Little Boy in the World Grows Up, and includes a new Foreword by Andrew Tobias and a new Introduction by the writer and journalist Andrew Sullivan.

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library
  • Hardcover: 247 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; 1st edition (August 25, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067960314X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679603146
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,671,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By F. Gentile on June 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book when it came out (no pun....).If you're looking for the gay mans Bible, this is not it. It does not necessarily have the dignity of Paul Monette, nor the "perfect love" of "The Front Runner." It is simply one mans quite amusing take on his growing awareness of being gay. I see alot of people are ready to stone Andrew Tobias for what they perceive as his hypocrisy. On the contrary, he was honest enough to admit his, at times, somewhat shallow and cavalier attitude. It's always easier to say what everyone wants to hear, he simply told it as it was. I find I don't have to agree with EVERY thought or viewpoint a person has in order to maybe learn something, or, at the very least, be entertained by them. While Andrew Tobias may have personality flaws (who doesn't ?), I hardly see him as the self-hating, superficial, elitist snob that some are trying to paint him as. He is simply a HUMAN BEING, just like a real person!! There's rainbow flag waving politically active gays, and ones who lead a quieter but no less meaningful life. That is their right to make that choice about what they're comfortable with. I know one thing, I have found gay people, no matter where they lie on that scale, to band together and be supportive of each other when need be. Yes, in the gay world, as in the "normal" world (whatever that is), there is a segment who are very image conscious. So what? Hey, sometimes life ain't fair. If you're going to hate everyone who had a more priviledged upbringing than you, and is "prettier", than the majority of us would be miserable ALL the time. On a scale of one to ten, I'm probably a five, maybe a six on a REALLY good day. The chances of a Ten wanting to go out with me are probably non-existant, IF I was ever to give it a thought, which I don't.Read more ›
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Brian H. Hays on November 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
I found this book to be one of the most insightful and helpful books I have ever read. Although Mr. Tobias (aka John Reid) came out in the 70's, when it was far less safe or politically correct to do so, many of his emotions and internal struggles remain true to young people who are today struggling with their identies. Although at times Mr. Tobias has a tendancy to ramble in his writing, this only adds to the book's charm. It is a must read for gay and straight people alike. For the former it teaches that they are not alone in their sturggles, for the latter it teaches acceptance and understanding. It is truly a modern classic about a subject much too rarely discussed.
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41 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Reader on December 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
It is an interesting tale and a common one I am sure. There are portions that resonate with all gay men but the writing itself is at times, cliched and sloppy. None of that would matter, though, if I were not so offended by John Reid's (aka Andrew Tobias') rampant egomania. Even within his constricting closet, he passes judgement on those he deems too gay, not macho enough, not as attractive as he is. It's difficult to sympathize with his struggle. He yearns for freedom and acceptance while blindly condemning the "less blessed" around him. I find it repugnant and after reading about Mr. Tobias' "young stud pool parties" in New York Magazine a few years back, it seems that not much has changed. He's older now but still fit and tan and, oh yeah, very rich. God Bless America. The sequel is called "The Best Little Boy In The World Grows Up". I have not read it but I am doubtful. For me, this book in some way celebrates the elitism that is so overwhelming in the gay community. That is what is truly hurtful and awful about the subculture and what it's teaching young gay men.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on September 17, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I could have written this book but I didn't. It's taken me nearly 60 years to do what Andrew Tobias did in his 20s. How many "best little boys" are out there somewhere? The personal telling of his story - with delving soul-searching analysis and a great geal of humor - makes this a necessity for anyone who has lived a secret life and learned the accepted norms of society in the days when there were no real choices.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By bookloverintexas on February 4, 2010
Format: Paperback
The culture toward gays was still dangerously threatening during the author's developmental years in the 50s and early 60's, and he went to amazing lengths to conceal the fact that he was gay.
In the first part of the book he writes well, describing his years of shame, isolation and naiveté with humor and feeling, making this a very enjoyable read:
"How long could I go without dating, or marrying, before people thought I was queer. I had vague notions of two years in the Peace Corps: a series of letters home talking about this girl I had met in Nairobi; a picture or two sent; a sudden marriage which, for fear of them not approving of my marrying a Kenyan, we decided to hold in the jungle without family and friends (read: witnesses); a year of letters about how happy we were...and then tragedy, She would be bitten by a snake or smitten with leukemia- whatever seemed most plausible, I would be so grief stricken I would not be able to remarry, or even date, for years. Maybe ever. The perfect alibi."
Reid is not always politically correct, and seems rather emotionally blunted and immature (understandable if you have always surpressed every honest feeling I would imagine), however the book rings true to me, and that's one of the things I look for in a memoir.
The majority of the last half of the book, coming out of the closet at age 22, is basically spent describing one brief sexual encounter after another. He admits he isn't able to feel love or empathize fully (but thinks he is making progress here), and the flatness and monotony of these relationships actually make for pretty dry lifeless reading.
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