Skinned Alive by Edmund White
Set in Europe and America, these eight stories (many of them autobiographical) explore the ways we make sense of personal experience: the workings of desire, in youth and later in life; the yearnings of intimacy and love; the powers of beauty and jealousy; and the unpredictable effects of illness and loss. In "Pyrography" a gay adolescent is torn between his sexual desires and his longing for acceptance as he goes on a camping trip with two straight male friends. An American in Crete finds a new reason for living after the death of his lover in "An Oracle." "Watermarked" is a moving tribute to a beautiful young actor, the subject of an early passion. And, perhaps the funniest story in the collection, "His Biographer" deals with the ludicrous experience of being the living subject of a biography, and shows a hilarious encounter between Old World sophistication and New World political correctness.