While James Baldwin is an iconic literary figure, I had never read his books. I joined a bookclub, and Giovanni’s Room is this month’s selection. The novel is magnificently written, but there is no relief from the tragic story that unfolds. The book cover reads:
“Set in the 1950’s Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality. …James Baldwin’s now-classic narrative delves into the mystery of loving and creates a moving, highly controversial story of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of the human heart.”
While this description intrigued me, it barely hints at the power of the work. Here is a quote:
“Much has been written of love turning to hatred, of the heart growing cold with the death of love. It is a remarkable process. It is far more terrible than anything I have ever read about it, more terrible than anything I will ever be able to say.”
The bookclub meets this weekend. I am thankful I have a group in which to help me process this profound work of art.