Uit: The Farewell Symphony
“I’d been afraid I wouldn’t feel anything when Brice finally died-but my body did all the feeling for me. It took over. My knees buckled, I lost my balance, tears spurted from my eyes. I staggered in the sunlight and nearly fell and had to be held up by Laurent and his lover.
Everything I’d lived through in the last five years had changed me-whitened my hair, made me a fat, sleepy old man, matured me, finally, but also emptied me out. I met Brice five years before he died-but I wonder whether I’ll have the courage to tell his story in this book. The French call a love affair a “story,” une histoire, and I see getting to it, putting it down, exploring it, narrating it as a challenge I may well fail. If I do fail, don’t blame me. Understand that even writers, those professional exhibitionists, have their moments of reticence.
Strange that I should be living here, in Paris. Ever since I’d been a child, an imaginary Paris had been the bright planet pulsing at the heart of my mental star map, but the one time I’d gone to Paris I had been dressed in a horrible shiny blazer and everyone in the cafés had laughed at me. I said to a French acquaintance as we left the Flore, “I know I’m being paranoid,” but he said matter-of-factly, “No, they are laughing at you.”
A sign in the tailor shop window off the Boulevard St.-Germain warned that customers would not be allowed more than three fittings after the purchase of a suit and my mind winced at this proof of shameless male vanity, so exotic to an American since Americans equated male vanity with effeminacy or Mafia creepiness. The year was 1968 and stylish young American men back home were wearing fringe and puffy-sleeved pirate shirts, headbands, mirrored vests and winklepicker boots, but the materials were synthetic, the colors garish, the fit very approximate and the mood one of dressing up. Orange and black were popular colors. The long Mardi Gras of that decade in the States was a mockery of traditional good taste, a send-up of adult propriety, the recklessness of a generation that would never settle down long enough to study the fine gradations with which quality, and especially beauty, begin. And if the mood was festive, the festivity seemed more a gesture defying parental drabness than an assertion of a new-born hedonism. A true search for pleasure is an exacting science and is born from a profound interest in raglan versus fitted sleeves and in the precise arc a weighted hem on the bias will describe.”
Edmund White (Cincinnati, 13 januari 1940)
Hier met partner Michael Carroll (links)