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A Boy's Own Story
A Boy’s Own Story is a 1982 semi-autobiographical novel by Edmund White.
A Boy’s Own Story is the first of a trilogy of novels, describing a boy’s coming of age and documenting a young man’s experience of homosexuality in the 1950s in Cincinnati, Chicago and Michigan. The trilogy continued with The Beautiful Room Is Empty (1988) and The Farewell Symphony (1997), which brought the setting up to the 1990s. Although all three share a number of themes and are frequently considered at least partly autobiographical, they do not tell a linear story in the manner of some trilogies, and can be read independently of one another.
The story starts when the narrator, aged 15, experiences the physical side of young love with his twelve-year-old friend Kevin O'Brien. Although he is the younger boy, Kevin takes the lead in the sexual activity. Kevin's remoteness keeps the relationship one-sided; he forgets all about it once each session is over, whereas the narrator gets more and more worried about his deep feelings. As the book progresses, he starts to have cravings for anal penetration. The encounters between the two adolescents become infrequent and are kept in the background, and the narrator's soul-searching about his homosexuality continues...
Literary significance and criticism
It has been suggested that A Boy's Own Story combines elements of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye and Oscar Wilde's De Profundis.
The book has been called "a touchstone in gay culture just as Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin was in the 30s, Larry Kramer’s Faggots in the 70s".