From Publishers Weekly
The title novella from novelist, memoirist and biographer White (Genet
, etc.) turns on the guilt that gay novelist Jack, 66, feels about not visiting his dying friend Helene in Paris, and on Jack's obsession with Seth, 28, a charmless ex-Mormon sex bomb. Not much happens in "Chaos": financially strapped Jack and Seth (a "total top") meet on Craig's List and fall into a ritual where Jack pays Seth $120 for the pleasure of sucking Seth off. (White told a nearly identical story of obsession just last year in his much praised memoir My Lives
, where the episode is titled "My Master.") Of the stories, only "Record Time" shines: it records what it was like to be 13 in small-town 1953, starved for culture, reduced to listening over and over to opera recordings on ancient 78s. The narrator recalls the excitement of going alone to a distant town for a screening of Cukor's famous Camille
, taking the evening train home after a rain. Here the writing is thrilling, evocative, with a magic missing elsewhere in the collection. Despite that high point, even White's fans might feel entitled to sit this one out. (June)
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"From the first few pages, I was ready to give myself over to his wanderings, just to find out where he would go next....Edmund White tells such a good story that I'm ready to listen to anything he wants to talk about."