Saturday, July 12, 2014

Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris, by Edmund White

Staff Review by Chris Saliba

A highly enjoyable memoir by one of contemporary fiction's great stylists.

This is, I think, the third memoir that novelist and biographer Edmund White has written. Inside a Pearl concentrates on his years spent living in Paris, from the early eighties to the nineties.

White's style here is light, chatty and rather choppy. The focus, for the main part, is on all the people he's known, friends and lovers. Hence he jumps from one person rather quickly to another, and then back again. This is not a criticism; while the book is certainly freewheeling, it's also very entertaining and highly readable. Intriguingly, the notes at the end of the book credit someone with helping him restructure the text. One wonders what it looked like initially.

I confess Inside a Pearl to have been a guilty pleasure for me. I wanted a bit of a holiday book, something light but not stupid. Edmund White, besides being a brilliant novelist, is also a superb literary critic. His throwaway comments and in passing observations always make for interesting reading. Readers who enjoy literary gossip will not be disappointed.

Inside a Pearl is a highly enjoyable memoir written by one of contemporary fiction's great stylists.

Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris, by Edmund White. Published by Bloomsbury. ISBN: 9781408837856  RRP: $29.99

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