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.
me. “Go on.” “A model selling a new typewriter might look directly at the camera, especially if he’s been told he has beautiful eyes.” “You have beautiful eyes,” Fred said sadly, possibly anticipating Guy’s indifference. “But a model, if he’s selling a product, should look at it, never the camera.” Suddenly Guy felt shocked by the childish insistence in his voice and disheartened by how trivial the knowledge of his “craft” sounded. For different reasons both men were sad, and they lapsed into
holding on to Guy as if to keep him warm and grounded in the wind. He had a strong arm across Guy’s back and was whispering into his ear, “I don’t want to be anyone’s daddy. I already have three kids and two grandchildren—you’d never guess it, would you?” “No, you don’t seem the type.” But then Guy realized Fred was referring to his youthfulness, not his paternal image. “You look too young.” Fred brightened. “I do? Honest?” “Honest,” Guy echoed, feeling depressed. Because he’d inadvertently
boy, a pariah with a secret. That could end up on his FBI record. Living a double life was possible in New York. Columbia was far from the Village, and other students rarely strayed south of Ninety-sixth Street. He never ran into anyone he knew from school. Manhattan was perfect for anonymity. Isolated from his classmates, he spent many an evening with Guy and Vicente, sometimes with Chris or Chris and his spiky sarcastic girl. Guy would get a huge take-out platter of sashimi, though Betty said
huge nose with a dirty handkerchief and went back to the math homework. Vicente was usually too stoned to understand what he was saying so patiently. He’d figured out Henry was a maricón too and he even asked him about that, but Henry said, “We could talk about that, but it would lead us rather far afield. Now, let’s look at these numbers.” He was even indifferent when Vicente staged getting out of the shower at the moment Henry arrived one day. One Friday, Guy accompanied Vicente up to the
another. Her name was Lucie and she was close to forty but slender and she always wore black tights and her sort of kinky hair pulled back in a pigtail held in a pink rubber band and she looked really young but tired, as if she’d been awake for two nights. Actually the truth was the opposite: She slept too much and said she loved sleeping more than anything, curled up with her two stuffed lions. She usually wore a gray sweatshirt with the sleeves pushed up. Her hands were big and clean and