Another Country by James Baldwin

I finished this book last week, but I’m still not quite sure what to say about it. It’s so beautifully written. The internal lives of its characters are almost too rich to fathom. When reading, it was impossible not to feel Baldwin’s constant presence. In a similar way, the novel is haunted by Rufus, a black musician who falls into such despair that he jumps off a bridge early in the story. (It was only later that I read an interview with James Baldwin and he mentioned a friend of his who killed himself by jumping off a bridge.) It’s a book that captures a very specific time and place (New York city in the 1960s) but that feels infinite in its scope–infinite in the microscopic sense, there’s always deeper and smaller to go. I can’t think of another book that captures how fraught with danger (emotionally, physically, spiritually) sex can be between human beings. Or even just a seemingly casual conversation. The kind of book that sort of makes me want to go shut myself away from other people and just read books forever. Also, there’s a party scene in this book with publishing elites that made me infinitely glad that I’ve always lived on the West coast. It’s an amazing book, but I think I got a bit more out of Go Tell it on the Mountain and The Fire Next Time.

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