53 Quotes of Edmund White

” I think sincerity was my sole aesthetic and realism my experimental technique. “
” In his enigmatic and cunning story ‘The Crown of Feathers,’ Isaac Bashevis Singer refuses to produce uncontradictory evidence of God’s will but rather mixes all signals, jams the evidence, stalls every conclusion. “
” In the middle of my sophomore year, I was sent to boarding school, at the Cranbrook School for boys, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where I fell in love with Marilyn Monroe. I knew that she was the most beautiful woman in the world, and yet she was in pain, in need. She was unhappy. I believed that I could help her. “
” I lived through the Fifties in the Midwest when everything that was happening – the repression of homosexuality, for instance, the demonization of the Left, the giggly, soporific ordinariness of adolescence, the stone-deafness to the social injustice all around us – seemed not only unobjectionable but also nonexistent. “
” If I had been straight, I would have been an entirely different person. I would never have turned toward writing with a burning desire to confess, to understand, to justify myself in the eyes of others… I wouldn’t have been impelled to live in New York and choose the hard poverty of bohemia over the soft comfort of the business world. “
” I’m an atheist, I always thought, ‘This is it.’ If there is going to be a heaven, it should be on earth. I feel much happier than most people. I’m fairly stoic about death, but I’m not keen on dying if it’s going to be long and protracted. I don’t have dark nights of the soul, except occasionally. I’m such a little busy bee. “
” The one thing that is sort of sneered at and not really believed is bisexuality. Any bisexual man is just seen as a closeted gay man. That shows how narrow-minded people are. The other thing that’s totally neglected and which nobody approves of is celibacy. People again assume that you’re just repressing something. “
” Originally I was opposed to gay assimilation and targeted gay marriage as just another effort on the part of gays to resemble their straight neighbours. “
” As a young teenager I looked desperately for things to read that might excuse me or assure me I wasn’t the only one, that might confirm an identity I was unhappily piecing together. “
” When I was young, I despised old people. I was provincial and narrow-minded. It’s the reason I stayed stupid so long. If you only get involved with young people you don’t learn anything about the world. “
” When I was young, I despised old people. I was provincial and narrow-minded. It’s the reason I stayed stupid so long. If you only get involved with young people you don’t learn anything about the world. “
” Barack Obama’s decision to come out in favour of gay marriage may be a historic occasion, but it is not an isolated one. His administration has been making pro-gay noises for some time; his demographic in the upcoming election is young and educated, precisely the group that favours equality for the LGBT community. “
” In a memoir, your main contract with the reader is to tell the truth, no matter how bizarre. “
” Some writers are so enthralled by ideas (one thinks of Doris Lessing) that their characters become debaters, and their fables approach allegory. “
” In the 1970s in New York, everyone slept till noon. It was a grungy, dangerous, bankrupt city without normal services most of the time. The garbage piled up and stank during long strikes by the sanitation workers. A major blackout led to days and days of looting. The city seemed either frightening or risible to the rest of the nation. “
” ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ is a masterpiece because it is an episodic novel that has a rigorous form – an unprecedented combination. From the very beginning we know the town of Macondo will endure only a century, so there is a limit to the length of the narrative. “
” There ought to be more grants that go to people in their late twenties and early thirties. That’s a crucial age, although it’s very hard to judge who is worth supporting and who is not. Looking back on my own life, I see that was the period when I was closest to giving up as a novelist and when I most needed some encouragement. “
” The Stonewall riots were a key moment for gay people. Throughout modern history, gays had thought of themselves as something like a mental illness or maybe a sin or a crime. Gay liberation allowed us to make the leap to being a ‘minority group,’ which made life much easier. “
” First, I was opposed to gay marriage because it seemed like one more way that gays were wanting to assimilate. When I realized the Christian right was so opposed to it, as well as tyrannical governments in Africa and Russia, I thought, ‘It must be a good thing to fight for.’ “
” Just like Barack Obama, my views on gay marriage have evolved, and now I am a reluctant groom. “
” The great triumph of the Sixties was to dramatize just how arbitrary and constructed the seeming normality of the Fifties had been. We rose up from our maple-wood twin beds and fell onto the great squishy, heated water bed of the Sixties. “
” I changed my writing style deliberately. My first two novels were written in a very self-consciously literary way. After I embraced gay subject matter, which was then new, I didn’t want to stand in its way. I wanted to make the style as transparent as possible so I could get on with it and tell the story, which was inherently interesting. “
” New York has been the subject of thousands of books. Every immigrant group has had its saga as has every epoch and social class. “
” Key West is the place where your sickly house plant back in New York grows to 10 ft. It’s also the place where an 8-ft. cactus, the century plant, produces a huge yellow flower every great once in a while, like a robot proffering a bouquet. After the plant flowers, it dies. “
” I suppose people hadn’t really thought each decade should have its own character and be different from the others till the 1920s, although I remember in a nineteenth-century Russian novel someone remarked that a character was a typical man of the 1830s – progressive and an atheist. “
” Looking back, I can see that the women I loved, at least early on, were status symbols. I suppose, in that sense, I was my mother’s true disciple. She’d taught me that a good man, though elusive, could transform one’s whole life once he was caught. “
” I do probably come down a little hard on a group of people I call the ‘blue chip gays.’ I mean people who have managed to become very, very famous and are still very famous partly through staying in the closet, like Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly, Susan Sontag, Harold Brodkey and others. “
” The natural enmity between leaver and left is like the absolute, immediate and always shifting hostility between driver and pedestrian. “
” I can think of no other writer who so thoroughly embodies the Jamesian spirit as Alison Lurie. Like him she can excavate all the possibilities of a theme. Like his, her books seem long, unbroken threads, seamless progressions of effects. “
” Biography can be the most middle-class of all forms, the judgment of little people avenging themselves on the great. “
” I didn’t want to write a biographie romancee especially since I already write novels, nor did I want to challenge the rules of the biography game, arbitrary as those rules might be. “
” I think that there are empty ecological niches in the literary landscape crying to be filled and when a book more or less fills a niche it’s seized on, even when it’s a far from perfect fit. “
” If I take a less defensive tone, I’d admit that I couldn’t write today a very jazzy, contemporary look at America as I did in 1979 in States of Desire. “
” In the case of my book, I don’t think it’s really the coming-out gay novel that everyone really needed, even though it was received as such. The boy is too creepy, he betrays his teacher, the only adult man with whom he’s enjoyed a sexual experience, etc. “
” Of course the success of A Boy’s Own Story took me utterly off guard. “
” The first version of The Beautiful Room Is Empty was the first mss. I’d ever submitted to New York editors. “
” These rejections hurt me terribly because I felt it was my life that was being rejected. “
” Whereas fiction is a continual discovery of what one wants to say, what one feels, what one means, and is, in that sense, a performance art, biography requires different skills – research and organization. “
” I was too prissy, too refined, too abstemious, too French to be a good American writer. “
” When my lover Hubert Sorin was dying of AIDS, he was always trying to fix me up – posthumously, as it were – with the cute busboy at the hotel. “
” I didn’t get anything published until I was thirty-three, and yet I’d written five novels and six or seven plays. The plays, I should point out, were dreadful. “
” I was working for Time-Life Books from 1962 to 1970, as a staff writer, and after that, I was a journalist. Eventually, I became an editor at ‘The Saturday Review’ and ‘Horizon.’ “
” Part of my problem as a young writer was that I was too much a New Yorker, always second-guessing the ‘market.’ I became so discouraged that I decided to write something that would please me alone – that became my sole criterion. And that was when I wrote ‘Forgetting Elena,’ the first novel I got published. “
” It always seemed much better to be a writer – a Real Writer – than a successful hack. “
” I was never an assimilationist. I always thought gays had some special mission. “
” The French are pretty thin-skinned. The few times I mentioned a French writer in ‘City Boy,’ the relatives would ring up in high dudgeon. I once wrote a mocking review of Marguerite Duras in the ‘New York Review of Books,’ and good friends of mine in France got very angry. “
” From an early age, I had the idea that writing was truth-telling. It’s on the record. Everybody can see it. Maybe it goes back to the sacred origins of literature – the holy book. There’s nothing holy about it for me, but it should be serious, and it should be totally transparent. “
” If bigots oppose gay marriage so vehemently, it must be because marriage is a defining institution for them; gays will never be fully accepted until they can marry and adopt, like anyone else. “
” The culmination of a long struggle was 2013, which could clearly be labeled the Year of the Gay. State after state had legalized gay marriage, despite intense opposition from the religious right. “
” AIDS had won gays sympathy; they no longer seemed the privileged brats that the general populace had resented in the 1970s. “
” Why did mainstream America come to accept marriage equality? Gay leaders had made a convincing case that gay families were like straight families and should have the same rights. The American spirit of fair play had been invoked. “
” In Paris, AIDS was dismissed as an American phobia until French people started dying; then everyone said, ‘Well, you have to die some way or another.’ If Americans were hysterical and pragmatic, the French were fatalistic: depressed but determined to keep the party going. “
” I asked my body if it was going to die or not from AIDS. And it said ‘no.’ I sort of paid attention to that. “