Edmund White’s A Boy’s Own Story: The Graphic Novel

Top Shelf Productions. Jan. 2023. 264p. adapted by Brian Alessandro & Michael Carroll. ISBN 9781603095082. $29.99. F
Edmund White’s autobiographical coming-of-age novel first appeared 40 years ago in the heady early years of gay liberation. Not White’s first book—nor by any means his last—it was the one that ensured his writerly celebrity. Then came a 20th anniversary edition in 2002, with a critic’s thought-provoking introduction and an afterword update by the author. Now, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of A Boy’s Own Story, a wholly new version drops: a graphic novel adapted by a team of contributors including White. This being an image-centered recasting of a lengthy prose work, much of the original’s lush, graceful text has had to be omitted or truncated. Readers might question whether the graphic, sensual, and haunting images are a worthy substitution; that textual truncation, as well as frequent leaps back and forth in time (new to this version), renders the story somewhat choppy.
VERDICT This is likely, as White hopes in his new preface, to draw new generations to his work, especially those for whom the graphic novel is their preferred reading mode.
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