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Going to Meet the Man: Stories Paperback – April 25, 1995
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By turns haunting, heartbreaking, and horrifying--and informed throughout by Baldwin's uncanny knowledge of the wounds racism has left in both its victims and its perpetrators--Going to Meet the Man is a major work by one of our most important writers.
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"From the Hardcover edition."
Top Customer Reviews
Of course many will argue these stories are badly dated. And true, America has moved on (generally for the better) since the early 1950s. But it would be unfortunate to overlook these stories for this reason. Baldwin captures the essence of where American society has come from, and we can all learn from history. I also feel it is unfortunate that nearly all the readers of "Going to Meet The Man' will be African-Americans, unlike myself (..who have the most to learn).
Bottom line: terrific tidbits showing Baldwin's brilliance. A worthy read.
Upon reading this collection, I think I am really beginning to understand what must have been going through his mind. Read "Previous Condition" where a young African American man keeps being thrown out of hotels and denied jobs simply because of the color of his skin. There is nowhere he can go without meeting the hostile glances and conspiratorial whispers of people on the street simply because of his skin color. And there is a moment where it all came into focus for me, standing in the kitchen of his Jewish friend's Jules' apartment. And I quote:
"Oh," I cried, "I know you think I'm making it dramatic, that I'm paranoiac and just inventing trouble! Maybe I think so sometimes, how can I tell? You get so used to being hit you find you're always waiting for it. Oh, I know, you're Jewish, you get kicked around, too, but you can walk into a bar and nobody knows you're Jewish and if you go looking for job you'll get a better job than mine!" (78)
It is deeply disturbing to think that a person has the suspicion and rage of the world cocked against their temple, but that was how it was (and still is). I have read much about the Civil Rights struggle and as a Jew myself, have listened to many stories from members of my family about prejudice but these stories, they uncover something.Read more ›
Baldwin's short fiction may be easier to read, but it does not avoid uncomfortable truths. In fact, some of Baldwin's most heated writing can be found in this volume, which was first published in 1965. It contains work written over a 20-year-period, including "Previous Condition," the first piece of fiction he ever published (in Commentary Magazine in 1948). A fledgling actor is torn between the black world of Harlem ("perfectly in his element, in his place, as the saying goes") and the white neighborhoods downtown. He stays at a friend's apartment in lower Manhattan, but has to hide from the landlord and leave the building at odd hours to avoid being seen by the other residents ("Why don't you go uptown, where you belong?").
Each of the other stories is unforgettable in its own way, but my two favorites open and close the volume. "The Rockpile" is an early (yet different) version of an episode in "Go Tell It on the Mountain"; two of Baldwin's strengths are his ability to capture the memories of youth and to present the complexities of family life. The incendiary title story that ends the volume depicts a white police officer whose racial attitudes were formed by a lynching he witnessed as a child.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Only studied 2 stories from this for my class and the author is brilliant but it's definitely not content that would appeal to just anyone, read with caution.Published 3 months ago by Amanda
This book does not have one plot per se, as it is a collection of short stories. However, there is a through-line in that all the narratives have to do with the same thing. Mr. Read morePublished 13 months ago by James Chavers
"Sonny's Blues" is the only story that I've read so far in this short-story collection by the great James Baldwin. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Tim