A Saint from Texas by Edmund White review – a delicious, salacious romp | The Guardian

This tale of twin sisters fleeing 50s Texas, one to a convent, the other to a glitzy life in Paris, is full of Proustian insightSwapping notes on couture with Audrey Hepburn at a Givenchy show, the heroine of Edmund White’s A Saint from Texas bemoans resembling a “cow” next to the waifish movie star. Such casually fictionalised cameos are the hallmark of a delectable seam of literary fiction: inside jobs about high society by gay male authors with the gimlet eye of a gossip columnist.Often pressing the maître d’ at the Paris Ritz for titbits about socialites, Marcel Proust alchemised gossip into the elegant ruminations of In Search of Lost Time (Proust argued that gossip prevented the mind from “falling asleep” over misleading outward appearances). For Truman Capote “all literature is gossip”, which he proved by stringing together ribald indiscretions about the soon-to-be-former friends he dubbed the “swans” in his unfinished roman-à-clef Answered Prayers. American author Edmund White, a self-proclaimed “archaeologist of gossip”, extends this lineage with A Saint from Texas, which ploughs a furrow somewhere between the two. At 80, after half a century of prodigiously varied output, including memoirs, literary biographies and 13 novels, including the moving gay classics A Boy’s Own Story (1982) and The Farewell Symphony (1997), not to mention dedicated activism, White has undoubtedly earned the right to cut loose with a salacious romp. Continue reading…

This tale of twin sisters fleeing 50s Texas, one to a convent, the other to a glitzy life in Paris, is full of Proustian insight

Swapping notes on couture with Audrey Hepburn at a Givenchy show, the heroine of Edmund White’s A Saint from Texas bemoans resembling a “cow” next to the waifish movie star. Such casually fictionalised cameos are the hallmark of a delectable seam of literary fiction: inside jobs about high society by gay male authors with the gimlet eye of a gossip columnist.

Often pressing the maître d’ at the Paris Ritz for titbits about socialites, Marcel Proust alchemised gossip into the elegant ruminations of In Search of Lost Time (Proust argued that gossip prevented the mind from “falling asleep” over misleading outward appearances). For Truman Capote “all literature is gossip”, which he proved by stringing together ribald indiscretions about the soon-to-be-former friends he dubbed the “swans” in his unfinished roman-à-clef Answered Prayers. American author Edmund White, a self-proclaimed “archaeologist of gossip”, extends this lineage with A Saint from Texas, which ploughs a furrow somewhere between the two. At 80, after half a century of prodigiously varied output, including memoirs, literary biographies and 13 novels, including the moving gay classics A Boy’s Own Story (1982) and The Farewell Symphony (1997), not to mention dedicated activism, White has undoubtedly earned the right to cut loose with a salacious romp.

Continue reading…


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