Edmund White's latest novel lacks his previous literary wonder. Frankly,it's a drag.
The Married Man is about Austin, a writer and furniture expert living inParis. Austin is an aging, not terribly successful man living on theperiphery of high society and depression.
Very early in the book, we learn that Austin doesn't really enjoywriting and lives in a small furnished apartment on one of the islandson the Seine. He's been separated from the love of his life, Peter, for3 years. Just after returning to New York, Peter falls ill with fullblown AIDS.
Austin is HIV positive, but in good health. We're regaled with the innermonologue of an insecure middle aged gay man living alone in a countrydevoted to romance. Austin's confident facade is tiring and at timestransparent.
Depressed yet? I was and hadn't hit page 20.
The Married Man is very disappointing. In Mr. Waters other books, hiswriting style is fresh, challenging, exciting to read...you're drawn tothe next word. But not in The Married Man.
'The Beautiful Room is Empty' is a wonderful autobiographical novel (second in a trilogy) full of rich language and dramatic imagery. 'Nocturnes for the King of Naples' (highly recommended) is a wonderful prose of complex, dark imagery.
I don't recommend this latest book. The reading lacks his usual'Gertrude Stein' like poetic style and instead, the dialog and conflictsseem almost self-indulgent.
If you're looking for a downer, I would recommend something better written, like Nathan Englander's 'For the Relief of Unbearable Urges'.