Our Young Man
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Our Young Man follows the life of a gorgeous Frenchman, Guy, as he goes from the industrial city of Clermont-Ferrand to the top of the modeling profession in New York City's fashion world, becoming the darling of Fire Island's gay community. Like Wilde's Dorian Grey, Guy never seems to age; at thirty-five he is still modeling, still enjoying lavish gifts from older men who believe he's twenty-three--though their attentions always come at a price. Ambivalently, Guy lets them believe, driven especially by the memory of growing up poor, until he finds he needs the lie to secure not only wealth, but love itself. Surveying the full spectrum of gay amorous life through the disco era and into the age of AIDS, Edmund White (who worked at Vogue for ten years) explores the power of physical beauty--to fascinate, to enslave, and to deceive--with sparkling wit and pathos.
“Blaxploitation.” “Pardon?” “Movies for black audiences.” “Oh,” Guy said, losing interest. “It’s mostly for export. Not something we’d go see, but they love it in Accra.” “What are they about?” “Get whitey.” “Who’s Weddy?” “Where are you from?” “Paris.” “What brings you to these shores?” “Work. I’m a model.” “Hands? You have beautiful hands.” Fred smiled. Guy looked at his hands as if he’d forgotten them. “Oh, really? Do you like my hands?” Did he say hands because he couldn’t think
L’Uomo Vogue. The photographer and Pierre-Georges discussed him as if he were more or less a desirable side of beef who could not hear them. “Great bones,” the photographer said. “But his nose is a little shiny on the left side,” Pierre-Georges pointed out. “And there’s no notch between his nose and his forehead.” “But that’s very ancient Greek,” the photographer argued. “Very chic just now.” “He needs to work out,” Pierre-Georges declared. “A little, not much, just some push-ups and curls
just led away. Guy turned to Lazlo and said, “That’s it? No more bail? He’s gone for good?” Lazlo smiled a sad little apologetic smile. “Of course we’ll appeal.” “On what grounds?” “That the sentence is unreasonably harsh.” “Do you think the judge hated us because we’re foreigners?” Lazlo looked up through his bushy eyebrows and said, “No. Because you’re homosexuals. Handsome homosexuals. These Jewish family men are like that sometimes.” Guy thought of Fred’s vicious sons, but then he
“What a dear child,” the baron said with a mocking smile, and he actually patted Kevin on the cheek with his gem-studded, age-spotted hand. “Don’t let him lead you astray, my child. He’s such a wicked man, woof!” and the baron pretended to shiver with delight. After they sat down they both studied their menus, and finally Guy said, “You don’t even want to know.” “I feel I don’t know you at all.” “Don’t you think what we have is real and solid?” Kevin looked at him with tears in his eyes. “I
see many other dudes dressed like him. Maybe it made him look too young or poor. Bitches liked dudes with scratch. Best to smoke another blunt. He’d like an Asian bitch—they said their pussies were nice and tight and sideways. Kevin felt they were all losers. Friendless. Going nowhere. Guy was a beautiful dumbbell. How many weeks had he been reading that novel, Sapho? And why a novel? You couldn’t learn anything from a novel. He loved Guy, but his life was vapid and empty and was careening