Readers familiar with White's early fiction might be a little astonished to find out just how much he toned down his life before turning it into fiction. By the time he was 16, the precociously sexual White writes in My Lives, he had had some 100 lovers, and was far from satisfied. My Lives recounts much of it in great detail. As eye-popping as the sex is ' a 'dungeonâ?� scene takes the cake ' the book never becomes a paean to decadence. My Lives proceeds in long set-piece chapters with titles like 'My Mother,â?� 'My Europe,â?� 'My Masterâ?� and 'My Genet.â?� This structure allows White the length he needs to stretch out and dramatize the reaching back through time that memoir requires. What emerges is a beautiful onionskin of a book ' one we can peel and peel and always find more layers. At the center of it lies not a core of regret or judgment, or even vanity, but a longing so powerful it wants to defy mortality.
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