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The Best Little Boy in the World (Modern Library) Hardcover – August 25, 1998
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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."
"Sensitively told, full of humor, and free of guilt".
-- Library Journal --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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This is the story of a boy that is the best little boy in the world (BLBITW) as measured by all standards - great grades, great in sports and bound to Yale. However he hides a secret: he's gay. So he proceeds to tells us the story of his coming out.
Some coming out stories are classics that transcend the test of time. This book is not. Just like Tobias/Reid spends lots of times reciting Spartacus' guide to gay life in new York City, Boston, and Provincetown in the seventies - both that Spartacus issue and this books are "old news."
Narrated from the first person point of view - it starts with a bang: "I was eighteen years old when I learned to fart." Tobias/Reid then goes on on masturbation, which he also discovered at age 18. (Don't believe it).
From there he goes on to a series of boring descriptions of several relationships - must of which are nameless (for example Esquire is a lawyer, Mother is his mother and Father is his father). The most humanity in the book is when the writer decides that there may be a worthiness to some people other than their looks. Mr. Tobias/Reid comes out as a snob - favoring men who are Ivy League graduates or "butch." Effeminate men are discriminated upon.
I could tolerate that, only because it was written in the seventies, but I was offended by the blatant racism: "I'm from Queents, New Yawuk, and my life'ss ambition iss to go to Puerto Rico and find some gorgeous number to screw me." p. 207.
Even though the work could be considered as a time period capsule, I'm afraid I will pass The Best Little Boy in the World Grows up.
I think you should read something else.... (less)