I had a lovely surprise at work today, being presented with this autographed copy of the new book by Edmund White, an autobiography.
White had been in to work a few days ago and I’d mentioned to a colleague how much I’d enjoyed A Boy’s Own Story (and after that “The Beautiful Room Is Empty”) as a teenager living in a small country town in Northern NSW.
As the book deals with growing up gay, it was a crucial book to read at the age of sixteen or seventeen. I told my colleague who was about to interview White how important the book was for me, and how I’d read half the book in the local “Angus & Robertson” before I’d summoned up the courage to actually purchase it. I also remember in hindsight, the young man behind the counter telling me how much he’d enjoyed reading the book, and how much I’d also enjoy it, without realising what he was “really saying”.
“He’s outside, tell him”, my colleague urged me. “No, he’s heard this before, he wouldn’t care”. After a little urging, my colleague convinced me to go with him to meet White and to tell him the story of how important his book had been in my life, which, nervously, I did.
And that was it, or so I thought. Until today, when my colleague brought in this signed copy of his latest work.
Receiving this touched me in a number of ways: first, that White (who I admired immensely because of these books) could be bothered to do this. Second, that my colleague thought enough or me to either ask for this, or organise this. Nice stuff.