Book Review: A Boy’s Own Story The Graphic Novel ★★★★

Eighties gay-lit classic, A Boy’s Own Story by Edmund White, has been adapted into a gorgeous graphic novel by Michael Carroll, Brian Alessandro, and Igor Karash, that manages to streamline the original book and strike at the heart of White’s autobiographical breakthrough. 

Opening in the American midwest of the 1950s and jumping forward through time to 1980s Paris and New York, White narrates significant chapters in his life. From his first sexual awakenings, to living through the times of the Stonewall uprising, the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, and queer liberation. He draws parallels between the events that shaped his youth and his adult desires and decisions. 

The exquisite painted art by Igor Karash is beautifully wistful. Figures are presented in a carefully rendered, impressionistic style, like a memory in the process of reconstructing itself. Carroll (White’s husband) and Alessandro’s text, whittles the story down to its essentials, creating evocative snippets of a life that connect through time. Mining A Boy’s Own Story—as well as moments from White’s later autobiographical works, The Beautiful Room is Empty and The Farewell Symphony—for the most salient scenes. Fans of White’s work will find easter eggs hidden within the pages, and the graphic novel doesn’t shy away from the book’s more controversial elements, however its style does ease their sting.

White has lived through some of the key moments in modern queer history with his pen in hand, chronicling the changing face of homosexuality in the modern age through his fiction and non-fiction works. A Boy’s Own Story has become a lynchpin of our collective literature and this version reimagines the work in a fresh, concise way making it both a perfect introduction for readers new to his work and a worthwhile read for those already familiar.

By Chad Armstrong

Edmund White’s A Boy’s Own Story: The Graphic Novel is out now from Top Shelf Productions.

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