When the narrator of White's poised yet scalding autobiographical novel first embarks on his sexual odyssey, it is the 1950s, and America is "a big gray country of families on drowsy holiday." That country has no room for a scholarly teenager with guilty but insatiable stirrings toward other men. Moving from a Midwestern college to the Stonewall Tavern on the night of the first gay uprising - and populated by eloquent queens, butch poseurs, and a fearfully incompetent shrink - The Beautiful Room is Empty conflates the acts of coming out and coming of age.
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