Read The Best Little Boy in the World (Modern Library) by Andrew Tobias John Reid Andrew Sullivan Online


When The Best Little Boy in the World was first published in 1973, Andrew Tobias could write about what it had felt like to begin to accept his homosexuality, but he couldn't bring himself to sign his own name to the book, for fear of embarrassing his parents. And so it was "John Reid" who became a hero to the thousands of gay males who found in this memoir a mirror for thWhen The Best Little Boy in the World was first published in 1973, Andrew Tobias could write about what it had felt like to begin to accept his homosexuality, but he couldn't bring himself to sign his own name to the book, for fear of embarrassing his parents. And so it was "John Reid" who became a hero to the thousands of gay males who found in this memoir a mirror for their own experiences. Although the book appears rambling at times, Tobias always has a clear sense of where he wants to take readers with the story. He treats his closeted adolescence and college years, and his stumbling first attempts at "doing a thing" with other gay men, with a self-effacing humor that exposes his pain without descending into self-pity. And if his life seems fairly ordinary, apart from the sexual awakening ... well, that was the whole point. "You like and respect us when you don't realize we're gay," he writes in a new introduction, "so now please just continue to like and respect us once you do realize. It's not that big a deal."...

Title : The Best Little Boy in the World (Modern Library)
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780679603146
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 247 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Best Little Boy in the World (Modern Library) Reviews

  • Chris
    2019-04-11 17:30

    The sexually repressed childhood and adolescence of now-famous journalist, columnist, and investment guru Andrew Tobias [writing as John Reid] must have been awful for him, as it was for many of us. Tobias makes us sympathize, and we recognize much of our own early lives in his. In these respects his book is largely successful.Certainly it has been read extensively since 1973 by gay people for inspiration to come-out and by straight people to understand them. There is no doubt it has had a mostly positive and significant effect. It's funny throughout, and manages to build up a significant emotional weight. So, judging by the cultural situation of the 1970s re: homosexuality, these positive considerations rate the book 5-stars.Yet...this is one of the hardest books for me to rate in total, ever. There is a darker side.The book has aged badly, very badly, and it suffers from Tobias's stratospheric level of naiveté. Can anyone be so clueless? Sure, it makes us feel better that he may have had it worse than us, but it just becomes embarrassing.Even worse, can we forgive 1) his cringingly overt racism (most of it revealingly removed in later editions: I read the first edition, and also the latest reprint because of my book collector's bibliographic curiosity: it's a quick read);2) his astounding feeling of superiority over everyone caused by his arrogant personality—apart from sex, where he was a total loser;3) his bragging about his early business success at 22-years-old, making loads of money at IBM;4) his continually expressed hatred of effeminacy, and the incessant insults he spews about "faggots" with their "limp wrists" and "lisping" voices [the quoted words in this review are used throughout Tobias's book: repetition is an element of his style, most repeated words and phrases should have been caught by his editor but weren't] ;5) his demand for homosexuals to behave like straight people and blend in, other than those they choose to have sex with.Take a breath...6) His overstatements that he is ONLY attracted to "cowboys," meaning, in the book's context, conservative and straight-acting people;7) his admission that only beautiful people should be gay, it's better for "ugly" (I lost count how many times he used that word) people to stay home and clear the field for him and his beauties;8) his stupid beliefs that homosexuality is determined by environment, body type and height (!), physical beauty, closeness to mothers and absence of fathers—"born that way" is not part of his conception, although he does state it can't be cured;9) his truly disgusting agism, claiming that older people (roughly over 35) are sexually unwanted and become pedophiles and/or steal the young "munchkins" for themselves by paying for their services, or "keeping" them—yet Tobias hypocritically worries that he will get old and ugly eventually, and wonders who will take care of him then.Taken together, all of these complaints rate 1-star at best.It all becomes almost too silly to read. If not for its humor and the author's obvious sincerity, even when his attitude is so wrongheaded in hindsight, I would have thrown this book away. At least he won't get even so much as a glance from me when he gets old—so totally ugly and old.

  • MBJ
    2019-03-22 15:04

    I was really excited about reading it because it was voted as one of the 50 best gay books by AE readers, many call it a classic and it had an interesting title but it turned out very disappointing for me and I guess that shows you how very different people's tastes can be.-if you liked this book I advise you not to read the rest of my review-I didn't like it at all and could barely finish it.I was hoping that leaving it for a while and getting back to it would help and that I might find it bearable, that didn't work obviously... I think the personalty of the mc (the author)is kinda obnoxious and I can't find anything that I like about him or his story.he finds himself to be so smart and handsome and he can predict what people will do and he knows what they're thinking about. he is basically superior to everyone he knows except maybe his friend Hank. the entire time I was reading I was hoping for something horrible to happen to him and turn him into a decant person and I hope that doesn't make me as obnoxious as he was.and the parts where he explained how/why this person or that turned/developed gay and how the reason wasn't the same for everyone was so easy to analyze and understand but he was (yet again) a superior being that was more complicated really annoyed meoverall I HATED IT.if you hate brats who have it easy all their lives and don't have any real world problems or worries this book is not for you.

  • Songfire
    2019-04-20 14:29

    Egads. Welcome once again to the mind of an over-privileged rich white guy (and WHEEE! He's a self-hating homophobic gay, how's that for an upgrade?!)*headdesk*Mind you, it's not because he's worried about getting dumped by his friends and family - all this special snowflake is worried about is no longer being "THE BEST LITTLE BOY IN THE WORLD"(TM) and of course his career. He is completely incapable of emphasizing with anyone/anything that doesn't immediately affect *himself*, and only worries about not being able to really *feel* deep emotions because it might get in the way of accomplishing his goals...I'm not a certified psychologist, but he appears to be a textbook case of Anti-Social Personality Disorder. And I really hope his victims/ex-boyfriends were able to find a man able to love and accept them.

  • Myles
    2019-04-04 09:21

    From the start of his memoir Reid (rather, Tobias) is engaging, warm and funny in writing about growing up and the eventual dissonance he felt between what was expected from him by his parents, society, etc. and the reality of his wanting to "be cowboys"* with other boys. There was no end-of-the-world 'why me?' boo-hooing, which is almost always exasperating to read/hear about however justified, which was a huge plus and a real rarity I've found. Tobias did come off as conceited (in a book called The Best Little Boy in the World?) at times. But that was part of the charm of it and added to the feeling of honesty throughout. He recognized who he was and took steps on his own terms and at his own pace to embrace it.However, he does says some very, uh, disparaging things about the gay community's more flamoboyant aspects in contrast to his 'normalcy', something that he emphasizes at every opportunity. Not that that denial, the "I'm not that gay" reflex isn't still a problem, or something I'm innocent of either. As much as I grit my teeth whenever an acquaintence essentially congratulates me on not dressing like Elton John or something, of being otherwise normal for God's sake (aw shucks thanks dude), there's a hypocrisy element because I've made jokes about myself playing on those same stereotypes. So even if I'm a little offended and part of me wants to demand what the fuck would be wrong with dressing like Elton John anyway**, this is a pick-your-battles argument I mostly let be. That aspect of the book, TBLBitW's expressed confusion towards (and about belonging in) a community so different from what he's familiar with, might be the strongest reccomendation for it.----"The More You Know" moment: (view spoiler)[here is a quote explaining why the whole "straight-acting" gay person thing is controversial. I should put it in my own words, but I have a hard time explicating concepts like this to people who don't already know and I'm lazy. I was TV-Tropes surfing this morning so this example was close to mind:"In real life, the "str8-acting" concept is very controversial in the gay community, with the two most extreme sides being either praise for showing that one can be gay without being flaming, or scorn for being an insecure phony trying too hard to fit in with straights due to not fully accepting their homosexuality. A lot of people just object to the term itself, feeling that it improperly conflates "masculinity" with "heterosexuality," implying that homosexuality is by default anti-masculine."From TV Tropes Straight Gay(hide spoiler)]As much as I enjoyed it, above quibbles aside, the last quarter of this book is really, really slow, the doings of him and his friends didn't really interest me after the main conflict of the book was resolved -- and I read the revised edition which supposedly cut that section down. Don't let that discourage you though, the first three quarters are a lot of fun to read and I found plenty of similarities between myself and TBLBitW, considering the great deal that's happened since 1973 that was surprising and made this a better and more personal read than others I've read in the past.*The whole "being cowboys" thing was adorable, I laughed every time it came up.**Obviously, this is a rhetorical question. No one should dress like Elton John except Elton John.

  • Carlos Mock
    2019-03-29 15:06

    The Best Little Boy in The World by Andrew Tobias - written as John ReidThis is the story of a boy that is the best little boy in the world (BLBITW) as measured by all standards - great grades, great in sports and bound to Yale. However he hides a secret: he's gay. So he proceeds to tells us the story of his coming out.Some coming out stories are classics that transcend the test of time. This book is not. Just like Tobias/Reid spends lots of times reciting Spartacus' guide to gay life in new York City, Boston, and Provincetown in the seventies - both that Spartacus issue and this books are "old news." Narrated from the first person point of view - it starts with a bang: "I was eighteen years old when I learned to fart." Tobias/Reid then goes on on masturbation, which he also discovered at age 18. (Don't believe it). From there he goes on to a series of boring descriptions of several relationships - must of which are nameless (for example Esquire is a lawyer, Mother is his mother and Father is his father). The most humanity in the book is when the writer decides that there may be a worthiness to some people other than their looks. Mr. Tobias/Reid comes out as a snob - favoring men who are Ivy League graduates or "butch." Effeminate men are discriminated upon. I could tolerate that, only because it was written in the seventies, but I was offended by the blatant racism: "I'm from Queents, New Yawuk, and my life'ss ambition iss to go to Puerto Rico and find some gorgeouss number to f**k me." p. 207.Even though the work could be considered as a time period capsule, I'm afraid I will pass on The Best Little Boy in the World Grows up.I think you should read something else....

  • Brian
    2019-03-31 11:17

    Honest, funny, and poignant. Many, if not most currently middle-aged gay men will find much of their own growing-up and coming-out experiences captured quite neatly, with frank humor and a touch of the bittersweet. The author's early sexual exploits may be more numerous, and perhaps bordering closer to what some may consider "sordid" than many people have experienced, the associated thoughts, feelings and responses are familiar to nearly everyone.Those with a close relationship with an adult gay man could find a wealth of insight in this story into what it is like to grow up gay in this culture.

  • Keith
    2019-04-10 15:14

    This book changed my life. It was as if I were reading my own story on the pages. I will never forget it.

  • Samy Rose
    2019-04-01 09:10

    a classic, but I don't see it. Author thinks he came out of the closet. More like he poked his nose out and felt around a bit. Never gets into a full relationship.

  • Michael Holland
    2019-03-22 15:27

    This was my coming out book, and I was so happy that there was a narrator who was so much like me!

  • Stephen Kirkpatrick
    2019-04-18 10:22

    I warmed to this book in particular for how much the author and I seem to have in common - struggling with living up to an image and reconciling one's sexuality with that image. The first several chapters, despite the 45-year age gap, paralleled my own journey pretty closely. Tobias is also a legitimately funny writer, and his self-awareness were enough to warm me to the book despite its flaws.But oh, are there flaws. It's very dated, both in terms of the writing style (a mishmash of '70s New Journalism and Salinger-esque clichés) and in terms of how it describes the gay scene (again, it's the '70s/pre-AIDS/etc.). Even the veneer of self-awareness made it hard to slog through the last few chapters' tedious descriptions of his numerous affairs - he seems to have been made aware of this, as he noted in the afterword for his edited version - and his personal "theories" on where gayness comes from are pretty cringeworthy.

  • Paul Kaefer
    2019-03-28 10:21

    I want to preface by saying that the times have really changed since this book was written. Unfortunately, there are still many places where gay people are persecuted and attitudes are homophobic. But quite a few things said in this book are different from our current understanding of gender and sexuality.That all said, it was a really great book about a boy growing up as a "good boy" who had a supporting family, good education, and did many "normal" things all the while knowing, deep down, that he was "not normal." Eventually, he comes to accept that who he is is normal (or perhaps that we should accept who we are, and not live by other peoples' standards).Highly recommended for people questioning or coming to terms with their own sexuality (especially people who identify as male/gay male). Also recommended for parents and friends of those who have come out recently.

  • Virgowriter (Brad Windhauser)
    2019-03-31 14:29

    The book is definitely a product of its time--and it's also interesting to perhaps account for the intended audience (straight people) and how that shaped his approach. Still, although the early chapters were engaging, the longer he explores his gay life, the more full of himself he becomes. The writing is still engaging, though, and it's a worthwhile book, especially for its era, for it explores a point of view uncommon for its day.

  • Aude
    2019-04-19 13:11

    That was a really interesting read, often funny.The narrator (and author) is not entirely likeable, yet we have so many common points, that I actually admired him. It takes balls to paint yourself as a jerk.I haven't managed to say all I wanted to or to say it properly or in a way that would inspire the indignation I wanted you to feel.Indeed, you did not. I'm not sure what I was supposed to feel indignant at: your behaviour? the oppression of homosexual? homosexuality? Often-times the narrator expresses the expectation that his homosexuality will shock the readers, but we know exactly what we get into when we start reading that book, so why would we if we found the subject offensive?That's why the book feels dated at several points. Obviously some homosexuals are still oppressed as of 2013, but most of them are better accepted as they were back when this was written.What IS mildly offensive is the narrator's attempt to interpret why each homosexual he met "became" homosexual. This one was small and feeble as a child, that one grew up fatherless and identified with his mother, that black guy was more intellectual than sporty, so he felt inferior to his black peers... the thing is, I'm still not sure how he explains how HE became gay. I think it was the point of the whole book, but his explanation of his own homosexuality isn't clear at all.On the whole, a quick, fun, shockingly frank book at times, with some interesting thinking - which may or may not be true. As an example, a quote I highlighted:In both cases, it is the prejudice, not the condition, that does the harm. It may be, as some would have it, that blacks are inherently inferior to whites or that homosexuals are all, by definition, sick. So what? Even if either condition truly is inherently undesirable, no manner of social pressure will turn blacks into whites or gays into straights. Social pressure will only exaggerate the handicap. It is still the prejudice, more than the condition, that does the harm.

  • Joe Miguez
    2019-04-05 09:20

    A breezy, but important, book about What It's Like To Be Gay...or at least what it was like in the early '70s. Reid - the pen name of financial writer Andrew Tobias - describes his journey from childhood to coming out to learning to live "out" with humor and insight. This book was ahead of its time in its boldness, and it's sad that many of the same basic, logical, common-sense arguments for equality for gays and lesbians that still must be made today were in fact being made quite publicly back when this book dropped nearly four decades ago. Reid's musings on what makes someone gay, as well as his observations on the differences between various "out" gays at the time, as well as the similarities between gays and other groups, are written with keen insight into human nature, and are funny as hell. This was a quick read, but a good one, and I highly recommend it to anyone -- gay or straight. In fact, it ought to be required reading for any of us straights who think it's our place to comment on anyone's sexual orientation, or what rights that orientation ought to give or deny them.

  • Mark
    2019-03-29 09:21

    It's definitely refreshing to read a coming out memoir with such a lively sense of humor at work. The angst of dealing with the sexual self for the first time is honestly dealt with, but it isn't related with the usual sense of doom. The author accurately conveys that mindset of youth--with all its intensity and changebility. I admired the author's honesty. I think, however, that I would have gotten a lot more out of this book if I'd read it earlier in my life. Although the jolts of recognition it provides are enjoyable and comforting in a way, the storyline isn't all that compelling. I certainly didn't dislike our protagonist, I just didn't care that much about him. I guess I knew that he'd be alright. I found myself skimming the last thirty or forty pages, just to finish it. There's a brief word at the back of the book that dates to the late nineties where the author says he's doing well, but so many of his friends aren't and maybe he should write another book. That book I would like to read.

  • Karen
    2019-03-28 15:30

    I tend to appreciate autobiographies about coming out. I like the introspection, the grappling with inner turmoil, and the tremendous courage involved. Originally written in 1973 under a pseudonym, The Best Little Boy in the World has some of the trappings of that era (the baths, a more hidden social culture, etc.) but also the timelessness of discovering and standing up for who you are. The updated version of the book not only uses the author's real name, but has been slightly revised and tightened, with a short update in the final chapters. I'm looking forward to reading the follow-up, his "coming-of-middle-age story," The Best Little Boy in the World Grows Up (1998).

  • Beth
    2019-04-15 16:08

    What I'd heard about this book is that it's classic gay memoir, and that intrigued me. In general, I find gay literature from the 50s-70s really interesting. This book was very good through the first 3/4 of the story. The last 1/4 really dragged; however, the author admits this in his afterword, so I guess he heard that from other readers when it was first published.I read some reviews for this book on amazon several years ago and most people commented that the writer was very unlikeable. I didn't find that to be the case at all. I thought he was fairly self-aware, incredibly intelligent, and sometimes even quite funny.Overall, I don't know that I liked it enough to read the sequel, but I did like pretty well.

  • Fr Meyers
    2019-04-16 10:29

    I read this when written under a pen name (before Tobias fully came out). I was impressed by its apparent honesty.I had previously read many of Tobias's financial books.Once I learned he was the true author of TBLBITW, I was in more of a tumult that someone so financially successful still felt the need to hide their true self.Although I had been out for nearly 10 years, it gave me a stronger commitment to knowing (for me), I had made the right choice.Now 44 years later, I am still glad for that commitment. And for one of the books that helped me.

  • Larry
    2019-04-18 16:19

    another great coming of age/out books.I think that a lot of gay men will be able to relate to this book and enjoy this book very much.The author didnt use his own name when he first wrote it now he puts his own name either on the cover or in the author notes. A lot of us were in his position when we came out.

  • Emansil
    2019-04-19 13:27

    I really loved this book, the story of how he hides his preferences all through his life. Until he can't hide it any more. I found enlightening and sweetly tender. The last 1/4 dragged a bit, but still an excellent read.

  • Tony Bucci
    2019-04-21 14:32

    I read this book upon coming out to my father on the recommendation of the psychologist we went to see. I do like reading biographies, so I recall this to be an interesting story, although the author was from a much different socioeconomic background than me.

  • Diego Salvatore
    2019-03-28 11:06

    Por fin lo termine ¡Si!y pues la historia es entretenida y como estilo The Perks, pero el protagonista es así como mega estúpido enserio. totalmente inocente y tonto. era ocurrente, te hacia reír su ignorancia y eso fue lo que hizo el libro entretenido aunque en partes si lo sentí algo pesado.

  • Laura Siegel
    2019-04-11 10:18

    This is the first book I read when our son came out. I wanted to understand how a young gay man might feel, what his struggles were. Andrew Tobias, now openly out, wrote this under the pseudonym of John Reid. I so appreciated his openness and willingness to tell his fascinating story.

  • Andrew
    2019-03-22 11:03

    I know I already rated a different edition of this book, but now that I see there is a Modern Library edition of it, I needed to make a note of some kind so I'd remember to get a copy someday.

  • Kendal
    2019-04-18 16:14

    It's easy to see yourself (or close friends) in this book. To many it will be an "oh, that's me" kind of experience.

  • Stephanie Ezrilov
    2019-04-02 14:24

    I have no idea how this book could possibly help anyone.

  • Thomas
    2019-03-27 12:22

    Andy's a friend.

  • Rhon Ivan
    2019-04-12 13:23


  • Matthew
    2019-04-12 17:12

    One of the first gay books I ever read. And one of the reasons I'll always be grateful for libraries and for my parents giving me free rein at my local public library.

  • Cbernard3
    2019-03-31 10:24

    My copy of this novel had the same front cover and title but the author was John Reid.