Many straight men and gay men are best friends, but if the phenomenon is an urban commonplace it has never been treated before as the focus of a major novel.
Jack Holmes is in love, but the man he loves never shares his bed. The other men Jack sleeps with never last long and he dallies with several women. He sees a shrink and practices extreme discretion about his gay adventures since the book begins in the 1960s, before gay liberation, and ends after the advent of AIDS in the 1980s.
Jack's friend, Will Wright, comes from old stock, has aspirations to be a writer, and like Jack works on the Northern Review, a staid cultural quarterly. Will is shy and lonely-and Jack introduces him to the beautiful, brittle young woman he will marry. Over the years Will discovers his sensuality and almost destroys his marriage in doing so. Towards the end of the 1970s Jack's and Will's lives merge as they both become accomplished libertines.
Jack Holmes and his Friend deploys Edmund White's wonderful perceptions of American society to dazzling effect, as character after character is delicately and colorfully rendered and one social milieu after another glows in the listener's mind. He is a connoisseur of the nuances of personality and mood, and here unveils his very human cast in all their radical individuality. New York itself is a principle character with its old society and its bohemians rich and poor, with its sleek European immigrants and its rough-and-tumble transplanted Midwesterners. With narrative daring and a gifted sense of the rueful submerged drama of life, this audiobook is a beautifully sculpted exploration of sexuality and sensibility.
This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?
Would you ever listen to anything by Edmund White again?
It would have to be free.
What didn’t you like about Ken Kliban’s performance?
Like having your grandfather read you porn. The biggest mismatch of voice to material I've encountered. Furthermore, the narrator's hesitating cadence has nothing to do with the author's pacing. Too, Kliban makes no effort to differentiate the voices of Jack Holmes and his friend, Will. When these characters talk to each other, it's as one person talking to himself.
What character would you cut from Jack Holmes and His Friend?
The narrator. Someone more appropriate might have salvaged this audiobook - might have.
Any additional comments?
This was a distorted caricature of gay life. I could not tell you if the author was being satirical or was truly misinformed. If you want to know accurate information about being gay, ask someone you know in real life. Do not take this oddity as gospel.
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