EDMUND WHITE reads from INSIDE A PEARL: MY YEARS IN PARIS

02/19/2014 7:30 pm

Inside A Pearl: My Years in Paris (Bloomsbury Publishing)

From the celebrated author of The Flaneur and City Boy, comes a fabulous new memoir from the iconoclastic Edmund White.

When Edmund White moved to Paris in 1983, leaving New York City in the midst of the AIDS crisis, he was forty-three years old, couldn’t speak French, and only knew two people in the entire city. But in middle age, he discovered the new anxieties and pleasures of mastering a new culture. When he left fifteen years later to take a teaching position in the U.S., he was fluent enough to broadcast on French radio and TV, and in his work as a journalist, he’d made the acquaintance of everyone from Yves Saint Laurent to Catherine Deneuve to Michel Foucault. He’d also developed a close friendship with an older woman, Marie-Claude, through which he’d come to understand French life and culture in a deeper way.

The book’s title evokes the Parisian landscape in the eternal mists and the half-light, the serenity of the city compared to the New York White had known (and vividly recalled in City Boy). White fell headily in love with the city and its culture: both intoxicated and intellectually stimulated. He became the definitive biographer of Jean Genet; he wrote lives of Marcel Proust and Arthur Rimbaud; and he became a recipient of the French Order of Arts and Letters. Inside a Pearl recalls those fertile years for White. It’s a memoir which gossips and ruminates, and offers a brilliant examination of a city and a culture eternally imbued with an aura of enchantment.

Edmund White is the author of two previous memoirs, My Lives and City Boy, and a previous book on Paris, The Flâneur. His many novels include the autobiographical A Boy’s Own Story and, most recently, Jack Holmes & His Friend. He is also known as a literary biographer and essayist. White lives in New York and teaches at Princeton University.

Photo by Katherine Hamilton

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