Nocturnes for the King of Naples (Paperback)

Staff Pick Badge
Nocturnes for the King of Naples By Edmund White, Garth Greenwell (Foreword by) Cover Image
By Edmund White, Garth Greenwell (Foreword by)
Not In Store - Available to special order for pickup or ship. For even speediest shipping we suggest our page!

Staff Reviews

Written with eloquent, lyric beauty and the most arresting, emotionally poignant metaphors and observations, Edmund White stands in league with Clarice Lispector, Julio Cortazar, Can Xue, and others who trouble, with exquisite execution, the novel's relationship to narrative and temporality. Here, an unnamed narrator recalls the days of his past, spiraling around memories of a former lover, as magnetic as he is enigmatic, who our narrator still yearns for. White's ability to write the city with such beauty and mystery alone makes this novel worthy of study. This early novel by a pillar of American letters will entrance you and leave with a desire to read more of White's oeuvre.

— Malik


The letters of a seducer to the great love of his life, a sensual tour-de-force by “the paterfamilias of queer literature” (New York Times)

“Can’t sleep tonight. Was lying in bed reading the biography of a great man whose genius deserted him . . . The genius who deserted me was you.” In a series of late-night letters, gorgeous, funny, filled with memory, sensuality, and regret, a seducer calls across the years to the great love of his youth: an older, revered expatriate known, in his adoptive city, as the King of Naples. As the narrator evokes their affair, in scenes of beauty and remorse, his memories range over the men who came after and before, especially the seductive father who still haunts his erotic imagination.

First published in 1978, before the trilogy of frankly autobiographical novels that made him famous, Nocturnes for the King of Naples reveals Edmund White at his most poetic, playful, and evocative, a magician on the level of James Salter, James Merrill, or Vladimir Nabokov.

About the Author

Edmund White was born in Cincinnati in 1940. His many novels include the autobiographical trilogy A Boy’s Own Story, The Beautiful Room Is Empty, and The Farewell Symphony; he has published biographies of Jean Genet, Marcel Proust, and Arthur Rimbaud, as well as memoirs, short stories, and criticism; in 1977 he co-authored The Joy of Gay Sex. He is an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He lives in New York City. 

Garth Greenwell is the author of What Belongs to You, Cleanness, and Small Rain. A Guggenheim Fellow and recipient of the Vursell Award for prose style from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, he is a Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at NYU. 

Praise For…

“Artful vignettes from a life passed between Bohemian and cafe societies, in Italy and Spain, on a decaying American estate, on the New York piers . . . It is exquisite prose, gooey and fantastic as Italian pastry, mounds of it, piled on prodigally. Elegant plays on words abound . . . Proust, for a possible comparison, piled phrase upon phrase . . . Mr. White [is] a similar virtuoso . . . Nocturnes is a set of delicious . . . prose poems by a writer of great talent and high art."
— John Yohalem

“[Contains] the most gorgeous evocation I have ever read of the 1970s gay male nighttown at New York’s old rotting piers, a twisted, rusting, metallic ruin of anonymous sex and unexpectedly sublime tableaus . . . an abundant, carnal and glittering place, populated by fearless, libidinal aesthetes.”
— Stacey D'Erasmo

“[A] near perfect poetic effusion disguised as a novel, [written] in the voice of a younger man who rejects a sophisticated, well-traveled, and widely-admired older lover.”
— Stephen Barber

“There are few novels which defy reviewing. They are the ones that provide us with unique reading experiences, which become valuable additions to understanding of the world and ourselves. Edmund White’s new novel is one of these . . . Some of the finest writing to be found in recent American fiction.”
— Doris Grumbach

“White’s disarmingly gorgeous prose everywhere works transformations . . . Banal gestures become lavishly, ravishingly beautiful, making drama of perception . . . Some of the book’s mysteries remain unsoundable, at least for me, which is a quality I prize: one can return again and again, to the inexhaustible text . . . This edition provides an opportunity for a new and better reading of White’s second novel, one that sees its importance not just as an historic record or an essential document of a crucial career, but as a psychological study of complexity and depth, and a stylistic performance of an immaculacy seldom achieved.”
— Garth Greenwell, from the Foreword

“A baroque invention of quite startling brilliance and intensity.”
— Gore Vidal

Product Details
ISBN: 9781946022660
ISBN-10: 1946022667
Publisher: McNally Editions
Publication Date: June 4th, 2024
Pages: 168
Language: English