Paperback review: Jack Holems and His Friend, By Edmund White

Holmes and the mystery of sexuality in the Sixties

White's hero is Jack Holmes, whose good looks and physique belie a slightly more tortured sexuality, as he struggles to understand himself in New York in the early Sixties.

It's a time of experimentation and fun, but only for certain members of society, as Jack disingenuously (and hilariously) declaims his heterosexuality whilst lusting after straight magazine writer Will, having one-night-stands, and running upstate after a male ballet dancer who just wants to be a girl. There are interesting points made here about America's so-called non-existent class system, about who can get away with prohibitive behaviour and who cannot, and Will's later narrative offers a welcome and deepening counter viewpoint.