the only thing, lately, helping me to get a sense of how to proceed with my book is Baldwin essays. It took me a lot of re-reads (mostly for courses I was teaching from textbooks) to really fall for “Sonny’s Blues” but I eventually did. I have started and put down some of the novels over the years, thinking maybe it’s not the right time, but… but the essays are different. I am simply rapt. In one of the intros Randall Kenan mentions that he’s a much more effusive stylist in the essays than in fiction, though of course he always thought of himself as a novelist before anything else, and knowing me that’s what makes the difference– I feel him in the essays in a direct way that has to do with the music immediate of the prose. I wonder why I don’t feel it in Another Country, for instance, which I never finished b/c when it turned lyrical I was always pushed out of the book. In SB I see it as a methodical unreeling and as a simple reflection of the development of the narrator’s story of falling in– read that story enough and you (well, I) start to really be with that narrator step by step (where on first readings I was always grouchy toward the narrator, defensively sitting on the artist/addict’s side– it took me a lot of life experience frankly to sit at a distance from Sonny even for the start of that story). I’m hoping it will come up at some point, though– Baldwin’s own sense of his relationship with language in his work in diff genres.

Update: ¬†yeah I think giovanni’s room is gonna be the one for me…

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1 Response to baldwin

  1. lito says:

    Giovanni’s Room is the thing that convinced me about writing as a thing to do in the world. I’m so happy you’re writing about Baldwin, and I would love to discuss how Coates may or may not be doing similar things. But anyway, I’m going to re-read Giovanni’s Room now. Again. For the 10th time.

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