Tag Archives: baldwin

The Devil Finds Work

The Devil Finds Work is the last book-length piece of nonfiction (Baldwin calls it an “essay”) that Baldwin wrote, and though it’s similar to some earlier pieces in its focus on Baldwin’s autobiography, and obviously addresses similar themes, it picks a … Continue reading

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If Beale Street Could Talk

When a student told me last year that If Beale Street Could Talk – James Baldwin’s 1974 novel which I had not read at the time – was being made into a movie, I was sort of nonplussed.  There were other … Continue reading

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No Name in the Street

It is not true that people become liars without knowing it.  A liar always knows he is lying, and that is why liars travel in packs: in order to be reassured that the judgment day will never come for them … Continue reading

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James Baldwin – Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone

Though Baldwin wrote about his own life a lot, Baldwin’s 1968 novel Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone seems like the closest he came to writing a full-length autobiography.  It’s written in the first person and as his biographer … Continue reading

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Ain’t Nothin’ New – Or – James Baldwin – Blues for Mister Charlie

[I put the James Baldwin reading project on hold for a while, but it’s back.] In one of my classes, we just finished an almost quarter-long exploration of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly.  One of the coolest things about studying … Continue reading

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James Baldwin – Going to Meet the Man and Some Mid-60’s Essays

“The American situation is very peculiar and it may be without precedent in the world. No curtain under heaven is heavier than that curtain of guilt and lies behind which white Americans hide” (James Baldwin, “White Man’s Guilt”) One of my earliest James … Continue reading

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James Baldwin – The Fire Next Time

The words of “My Dungeon Shook” ring in my ears almost every single day.  Somehow the centerpiece of that ringing is a simple imperative sentence about 3/4 of the way through the final, two-page paragraph: You, don’t be afraid. That paragraph, itself, … Continue reading

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James Baldwin – Another Country

Another Country is James Baldwin’s third novel, and is is quite a bit longer than Baldwin’s first two, maybe even longer than both of them combined.  It’s interesting to me that it basically covers a lot of the same ground that his essays … Continue reading

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James Baldwin – Nobody Knows My Name (and some other essays from the early 60’s)

The greatest takeaway for me from Nobody Knows Your Name is “Fifth Avanue, Uptown: A Letter from Harlem.”  In this essay Baldwin explores the phenomenology of police violence – again, if you don’t care what I have to say, at least … Continue reading

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James Baldwin – Giovanni’s Room

I was really surprised when I figured out that David, the protagonist of Baldwin’s second novel, Giovanni’s Room, was white.  The novel never says so directly, but he is described a handful of times as “blonde.”  In fact, as far … Continue reading

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