James Baldwin’s stunning first novel is now an American classic. With startling realism that brings Harlem and the black experience vividly to life, this is a work that touches the heart with emotion while it stimulates the mind with its narrative style, symbolism, and excoriating vision of racism in America. Moving through time from the rural South to the northern ghetto, Baldwin chronicles a 14-year-old boy’s discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Go Tell it on the Mountain is an unsurpassed portrayal of human beings caught up in a dramatic struggle and of a society confronting inevitable change.
©1981 James Baldwin (P)2013 AudioGO
"... there are times when silence is a poem." - John Fowles, the Magus ^(;,;)^
This was a slow read. In terms of pages and words it was a small book, but the river was deep and fierce. Baldwin is throwing out big themes on family, religion, race, sex. This isn't a beach read, it is a hard pew read in an unconditioned, hellfire and damnation church. I would read 40 pages and have to take a day to recover emotionally.
THIS book is why I read fiction. Look. I am white on white, again and again. Seriously, I took the Twenty-Three&Me DNA spit test and I am pretty deep into the white gene hole. How else, besides brilliant narrative fiction, am I going to understand anything about being black or being a black pentecostal WITHOUT reading Baldwin?
Baldwin's use of repetition was amazing. I haven't read recently (other than Moby-Dick) a novel that appears to be made, brick-by-brick, with more King James Bible pieces than Go Tell It on the Mountain. There are some novels where writer ties off every narrative thread. Baldwin wasn't satisfied with that. Each sad string in this novel seemed to end up threaded through some part of my heart and knotted around some raw edge of my soul.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
"Go Tell It on the Mountain" because God is not there. "Go Tell It on the Mountain" because no one listens. "Go Tell It on the Mountain" because no one cares. James Baldwin rages against culture that makes one, what one is not. Baldwin wins fame from a book that defines the chains of discrimination. He explains why and how culture is a curse. Baldwin tells a story that explains why being different denies equal opportunity.
Being smart or being religious is not enough; particularly if you are a minority or a woman because cultures stultify individuality and restrict opportunity. Women, in Baldwin’s novel, are at once the saviors of black men and unwitting perpetuators of an unjust culture; i.e. women support their mates while accepting the delusion of a vengeful God that will punish evil; if not now, in an afterlife. The consequence in this earthly life is the perpetuation of inequality.
Individuality and opportunity are hindered by poor education and biases that are eternally engendered (institutionalized) by discrimination. Blacks have shown they are more than criminals, preachers, sports stars, and entertainers. And women have shown they are more than child bearers and housewives but America continues to struggle with equal opportunity for all. Baldwin exemplifies America’s struggle in "Go Tell It on the Mountain".
This book is a gem! The characters are rich and deep. It's an intriguing story about the lives of three people caught between temptation and salvation. I also have to say the narrator is excellent. His voice is perfect and adds soul to the story.
This book was a good experience. The narrator was good. The story was hard to follow at times, but pulled together at the end. Interesting to know the issues of today were struggles that were overcome back then also.
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