The Humble Lover

Bloomsbury. May 2023. 272p. ISBN 9781639730889. $27.99. F
In White’s latest, a wild, sex-filled, multigenerational balletic taunt, August is a leading dancer with the New York City ballet. Aldwych is a wealthy benefactor of the ballet, very much an admirer of August, and very, very much his elder. At the outset, the age difference doesn’t seem to bother August. Indeed, he appears not to give a second thought to becoming Aldwych’s roommate when the offer is extended. Free room and board, sign August up! Of course, Aldwych wishes for romance but doesn’t force it, instead allowing August to take up with other men and women. In a final effort to secure August’s affection, Aldwych goes so far as to drain away all his wealth by forming a startup ballet company in which, of course, August would be the star. When August makes other plans, Aldwych quickly descends into madness. The ending of the story is abrupt and unsettling, not entirely satisfying and yet, somehow, sort of perfect.
VERDICT All told, this is a quirky journey from White, recipient of the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, that will undoubtedly deliver to devotees as well as those new to the prolific author.
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