©1990 Gloria Baldwin Karefa-Smart; (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks America
In this novel Baldwin presents a realistic portrait of artistic young people in New York in the early 1960s. The most compelling character, the tormented black musician Rufus, is alive for only the first portion of the book, yet he casts his shadow over everything. Baldwin shows how even well-meaning whites who try to create friendship or love across the racial barrier often have no idea of the emotional sorrow they are up against or the further sorrow they may inadvertently cause. This novel also explores the conflicts that can arise among a group of struggling artists when one of their number becomes successful. As well, the novel includes some frank but well-written sex scenes, including homosexual encounters. Some may find this novel overly dark and full of conflict. Certainly, it is not a light or cheerful book, but it is an important work.
I first read this book in the early 70s at the behest of a friend who was trying to explain what it was like to be black and gay. I was overwhelmed by the beauty, the delicacy and the anger of Baldwin's words. I knew I would never forget how much pain and loneliness was part of that life. Baldwin's people were well delineated, but the plot was missing an ending.
Hearing this book now, instead of reading, made the book as fresh as the first time I read it. Despite any faults inherent in the novel, I still recommend this book and looking past those faults into the heart of a nab who he felt he didn't belong.
This is a beautiful piece by Baldwin. So tainted that it is perfect. The narrator does a great job inflecting and changing pitches to keep the listener interested. hopefully Amazon will catch on and start using these voices for the text to speech option in Kindle! Great book, great audio, highly recommended.
This story is as powerful and provocative today as it was when it was first written. Baldwin paints a brilliant picture with his words filled with color and emotions, like listening to an extraordinary jazz piece. Graham add such vibrant life to the characters and creates a mood that often becomes hypnotic and memorizing. I was captivated from the first paragraph to the last word uttered. I was familiar with Baldwin from reading his other works some 30 years earlier. How did I ever miss this one? It's his masterpiece of vision and masterful story telling of an era long lost.
This is not a novel for everyone, has themes of strong sexual situations, racism, and the violent nature of lost souls. But it's all the things l love that define the human condition.
My second read of James Baldwin at sixty six year of age I wonder why I missed this for so long. I will quench my thrust with more and more. I normally do not read friction. Thank you.
I made it half way through this audio book and simply couldn't keep going. The storyline is an interesting one but the author's over indulgence in using as many words possible in every description of every setting, character response and character insight eventually bogged me down to the point that I began to hate my ipod. I'm such a cheapskate...I was determined to finish the book so to not have wasted my money...but finally decided my sanity must be worth more! Call me shallow but I am now ready for some mindless mystery.
Have an actual plot or story and not just be character based
Change of voices and had an excellent tone
I tried hard to get into the book because I don't like to waste my money, but after 3 hours I came to the conclusion that the money I spent for the book was far less than the cost of a full blown depression which might result from listening.
It's disjointed and depressing. The characters' actions make little sense. Here's a man at the top of his game who acts willy nilly and can't understand when his actions throw him in the gutter.
Best advice is to skip it. If you don't, have a therapist on stand-by.
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