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 in Paris. Austin is an aging, not terribly successful man living on the periphery of high society and depression.
Very early in the book, we learn that Austin doesn't really enjoy writing and lives in a small furnished apartment on one of the islands on the Seine. He's been separated from the love of his life, Peter, for 3 years. Just after returning to New York, Peter falls ill with full blown AIDS.
Austin is HIV positive, but in good health. We're regaled with the inner monologue of an insecure middle aged gay man living alone in a country devoted to romance. Austin's confident facade is tiring and at times transparent.
Depressed yet? I was and hadn't hit page 20.
The Married Man is very disappointing. In Mr. Waters other books, his writing style is fresh, challenging, exciting to read...you're drawn to the 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 conflicts seem 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'.