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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.
20 of 20 people found this review helpful
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.
16 of 16 people found this review helpful