Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Go Tell it on the Mountain

Title: Go Tell it on the Mountain

Author: James Baldwin

Number of pages: 256

Started: 5 November 2009

Finished: 11 November 2009

Opening words:

Everyone had always said that John would be a preacher when he grew up, just like his father. It had been said so often that John, without ever thinking about it, had come to believe it himself.

Plot summary:

"Nothing but the darkness, and all around them destruction, and before them nothing but the fire--a bastard people, far from God, singing and crying in the wilderness!" First published in 1953, Baldwin's first novel is a short but intense, semi-autobiographical exploration of the troubled life of the Grimes family in Harlem during the Depression.

What I thought:

This was a good book, not quite in the same league as Baldwin’s book I have read (Giovanni’s Room), but good nonetheless. It is a semi-autobiographical work of fiction and is quite a bitter read, but also very engaging. There were passages in it that were rather mesmerising and beautifully written, even if the subject itself was filled with anger and other negative emotions at times.

Baldwin wrote this book to make peace with himself about his father and given the events of the book, it is clear why he needed to do that. A powerful book, if a little uncomfortable to read at times.


Sarah said...

This book has been on my shelf for way over a year; it was part of a Penguin 'Banned Book Collection." Thanks for a great review; I didn't know enough about it to have strong feelings either way, but now my copy might finally get to come off the shelf...

Random Reflections said...

Sarah - I like his books and think they are very powerful reads. I definitely preferred Giovanni's Room, but this was an interesting insight into Baldwin's life, albeit with a fictional take on it all.