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The unpunished vice : a life of reading / Edmund White.

By: White, Edmund, 1940-.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: London, England : Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018Description: 225 pages ; 22 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9781408870259; 1408870258; 9781408870266; 1408870266.Subject(s): White, Edmund, 1940- | Novelists, American -- 20th century -- Biography | Authors, American -- 20th century -- Biography | Literature -- AppreciationGenre/Form: Biographies.DDC classification: 813.54 Summary: An insightful account of the key role reading has played in the life of literary icon Edmund White. Edmund White made his name as a writer, but he remembers his life through the books he read. For White, each momentous occasion came with books to match: Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, which opened up the seemingly closed world of homosexuality while he was at boarding school in Michigan; the Ezra Pound poems adored by a lover he followed to New York; the biography of Stephen Crane that inspired one of White's novels. Blending memoir and literary criticism, The Unpunished Vice is a compendium of all the ways reading has shaped White's life and work. His larger-than-life presence on the literary scene - he is close friends with giants including Michael Ondaatje and Joyce Carol Oates - lends itself to fascinating, intimate insights into the lives of some of the world's best-loved cultural figures. With characteristic wit and candour, he recalls reading Henry James to Peggy Guggenheim in her private gondola in Venice, and phone calls at eight o'clock in the morning to Vladimir Nabokov - who once said that White was his favourite American writer.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

An insightful account of the key role reading has played in the life of literary icon Edmund White Edmund White made his name as a writer, but he remembers his life through the books he read. For White, each momentous occasion came with books to match: Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, which opened up the seemingly closed world of homosexuality while he was at boarding school in Michigan; the Ezra Pound poems adored by a lover he followed to New York; the biography of Stephen Crane that inspired one of White's novels.Blending memoir and literary criticism, The Unpunished Vice is a compendium of all the ways reading has shaped White's life and work. His larger-than-life presence on the literary scene - he is close friends with giants including Michael Ondaatje and Joyce Carol Oates - lends itself to fascinating, intimate insights into the lives of some of the world's best-loved cultural figures. With characteristic wit and candour, he recalls reading Henry James to Peggy Guggenheim in her private gondola in Venice, and phone calls at eight o'clock in the morning to Vladimir Nabokov - who once said that White was his favourite American writer. The Unpunished Vice is a sensitive, smart and insightful account of a life in literature.

An insightful account of the key role reading has played in the life of literary icon Edmund White. Edmund White made his name as a writer, but he remembers his life through the books he read. For White, each momentous occasion came with books to match: Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, which opened up the seemingly closed world of homosexuality while he was at boarding school in Michigan; the Ezra Pound poems adored by a lover he followed to New York; the biography of Stephen Crane that inspired one of White's novels. Blending memoir and literary criticism, The Unpunished Vice is a compendium of all the ways reading has shaped White's life and work. His larger-than-life presence on the literary scene - he is close friends with giants including Michael Ondaatje and Joyce Carol Oates - lends itself to fascinating, intimate insights into the lives of some of the world's best-loved cultural figures. With characteristic wit and candour, he recalls reading Henry James to Peggy Guggenheim in her private gondola in Venice, and phone calls at eight o'clock in the morning to Vladimir Nabokov - who once said that White was his favourite American writer.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

In this blend of memoir and literary criticism, author White (A Boy's Own Story; Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris) writes about his lifelong love of reading. In the book's postface, he relates being chastised as a young child for not yet having learned to read, a skill he equated with freedom. Using his life and experiences, the author creates a literary memoir about this "lonely and intensely sociable act." His tastes are eclectic and wide ranging; he argues that Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is "the greatest novel in all literature," placing this and other works within the context of his own life and the time and place in which the book was published. VERDICT A lovely and thoughtful memoir about reading, books, and life. [See Prepub Alert, 1/8/18.]-Pam Kingsbury, Univ. of North Alabama, Florence © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

In this mélange of essay and memoir, author White (Our Young Man) reflects on the books and people that helped shape his remarkable literary life. In 2014, while recovering from a heart attack, he found that the seemingly impossible had happened: he didn't feel like reading. This temporary aversion led him to examine his artistic motivations and to reexamine his transformation from a marginalized Midwestern kid into an icon of gay literature. In a conversational tone that blends affirmation and elegy, White escorts readers through an impressive range of interests and experiences-restroom cruising at 14, masterpieces of the Japanese novel (including works by Tanizaki and Kawabata), and the vanished highbrow cultures of New York City and Paris. Much of the text has been cobbled together from previously published essays, which at times undermines narrative unity. Given this ad-hoc structure, it's hardly a surprise that the quality varies widely between sections, with a particularly flimsy chapter devoted to excessive praise of White's famous novelist friends. Yet even at his most rambling, White's erudition and charm are everywhere present. At its best, this collection is like a heartfelt conversation with friends over a bottle of wine. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

If we are writers, we read to learn our craft. So begins White's (Inside a Pearl, 2014) entertaining new memoir about his reading life and how it has shaped his writing. White recalls his first job, age 22, as a writer for Time-Life Books, in which he wrote on hundreds of subjects, a perfect position for someone with such a curious mind. He writes about his ambivalent feeling about his homosexuality, fearing that it would not only stigmatize him as a person but also restrict his literary career. Indeed, feelings of self-contempt come up more than once here. He discusses his favorite book Nabokov's Lolita before admitting that Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye was the first book he read that was about people like himself, and his friends, the misfits and outcasts of the world. But the greatest novel of all time, in his estimation, is Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, which he has read 10 times, modestly admitting, though I'm none the wiser for it. A generous, lovely book about the profound effect of reading on a versatile and influential writer.--Sawyers, June Copyright 2018 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

The celebrated author takes us through the many shades of literature."Reading is at once a lonely and an intensely social act," writes White (Creative Writing/Princeton Univ.; Our Young Man, 2016, etc.) at the beginning of his latest work of nonfiction. "The writer becomes your ideal companioninteresting, worldly, compassionate, energeticbut only if you stick with him or her for a while, long enough to throw off the chill of isolation and to hear the intelligent voice murmuring in your ear." Here, the author intimately whispers the literary twists and turns that have shaped his life into his attentive readers' ears. In exploring the books that have defined both his adolescence and adulthood, White dives into the various states of mind that acted as geneses for many of his novels and that elicited significant instances of self-realization. "When we're young and impressionable, we're led to embrace the books our first lovers love," he writes. Though there was only one first love, his college peer Charles Burch, White had many other loves that helped develop his literary persona. This is the central premise of the book. What lies at the junction of love, literature, and writing? What stories define us, and how do we define stories? Taking his readers from Alexander Trocchi to Joyce Carol Oates to Roland Barthes to Leo Tolstoy, White's repertoire is impressive; refreshingly, it's never pretentious. White's prose oozes mysticism and melancholy, the kind of melancholy that makes readers sigh with wonder and hope. "We like writers who can see the world around them," he writes, "who don't attribute impossible motives or responses to their characters, who can keep a balance between action and introspection, whose style is relaxed and flowing and conversational." Throughout, White's reflections are just as lucid as they are fascinating and just as compelling as they are bountiful.A literary delicacy with more takeaways than one can count. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.