Understanding Edmund White
by Nicholas F. Radel
University of South Carolina Press 160 pages, $39.95
IN an astonishingly generous review that appeared in The New York Review of Books last October, Edmund White used the term “ingenious” to describe David Halperin’s recent book How to Be Gay. Here is how White responded to Halperin’s bizarre dismissal of an entire generation of gay liberation-era writers, in- cluding a reference to White himself:
As [Halperin] puts it, “Why would we want Edmund White, when we still have The Golden Girls?” No doubt some would. But surely the opportunity that novelists of my generation had to explore the previously uncharted territory of gay life, and to write about gay consciousness, was too much of a tempta- tion to ignore, and our efforts to map out gay experience re- vealed a part of the culture that had been largely hidden.