Edmund White, a writer, professor of Princeton, read at the Hammer Museum last evening http://hammer.ucla.edu/calendar/detail/type/program/id/1100. from his new book “Jack Holmes & His Friends” http://www.edmundwhite.com/html/jackholmes.htm. I have never heard of him, but I had faith that the Hammer programs do not disappoint. I was partly right. His reading introduced us to two characters, named Jack and Will. Jack was single, looking for stability, and Will was married, looking for excitement. Their relationship was both witty and passionate. It was fun to hear about two men, in the way that we usually think of two women. By the time the evening was over, I felt like Jack and Will became two good friends of mine. The prose was gripping and hilarious, but not poetic. Mr. White is a cultural critic, a commentator on gender and social class.
He was charming and engaging. He spoke of his psychoanalysis as a “mystical” experience that ”one needs to be highly educated to enjoy that kind of masochism.” In my mind, a writer who talks about his psychoanalysis, with whatever valence, is suggesting that his therapeutic experience has contributed to his understanding of human nature and thus to his creation of fictional characters. I appreciated his openness about his experience with my colleagues. Will I read his book? Maybe. Did I enjoy his company? Absolutely.