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The Life and Loves of Mr. Jiveass Nigger Paperback – July 29, 2008


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The Life and Loves of Mr. Jiveass Nigger + Eva's Man (Bluestreak) + The Red Letter Plays
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Frog Books; 2008 Ed edition (July 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583942106
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583942109
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,062,609 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“This is a book that turns you on; it tells you how it feels to be a young, black male American in a permissive society of white women.”
—Chester Himes, author of If He Hollers, Let Him Go

“Flimflamboyantly erotic ... audacious ... dramatic ... Mr. Brown is a born pornographer gone straight.”
The New York Times

“Brown's best-selling The Life and Loves of Mr. Jiveass Nigger, published in 1969, [is] a picaresque novel ˆ la Henry Fielding's Tom Jones, infused with a Black Power sensibility.”
—Scott McLemee

About the Author

Cecil Brown holds a PhD in African American Literature from the University of California, Berkeley. His other books include Days Without Weather, Stagolee Shot Billy, and his autobiography, Coming Up Down Home. He lives in Berkeley.

Foreword contributor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research and holder of the distinguished title of the Alphonse Fletcher, Jr. University Professor at Harvard University.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Vaughn A. Carney on August 7, 1997
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This one is a cult classic, a story with messages that resonate long after we've put it down. One of my three or four all-time favorites. Brown has the gift of the storyteller's ear and voice, and an instinctive feel for the trope and rhythm of language. If it were put to music, it would be a combination of Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. A cover-to-cover "bright moment"
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 6, 1997
Format: Paperback
The re-release of Cecil Brown's 1969 classic is long overdue. The man's insights and vision are haunting in their lyricism, and his messages pack a punch. Cecil Brown is a natural, and I've missed his fiction all these years. Not to be missed
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Christopher H. Wright on September 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is beautifully written, full of anger and sex, blatant truths and subtle descriptions of interpersonal relations. It captures the experience of a person trying to escape his past by making a philosophy and lifestyle out of jive, prevarication, self-imposed exile, promiscuity and drugs. Even more important, Jiveass shows how the protagonist gets out of the escapist thinking and behaviors and becomes ready to return to his home country--the site of all of the formative traumas of his life. The sex scenes are potentially distracting--but each contains luminous descriptions of the mental state that carries the participants through these rather fraught encounters, and reads dangerously true about how people with different amounts of power in the world (and different senses of their relationship to racial difference) behave sexually to each other. As George Washington (the protagonist) progresses through the novel, these scenes embody his changing awareness of the women he is involved with--and thus his changing relationship with the world that leads to his decision to return to the United States.

Overall, this is one of the best works of fiction I have read--a truly valuable work.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Todd C. Truffin on February 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
C.S. Lewis writes that fiction allows you to be a thousand men whilst always maintaining the integrity of your own person. In today's impoverished lingo, he argued that fiction allows us to walk in another person's shoes. To be honest, the world of Brown's classic novel of an African-American navigating the gigolo world of Copenhagen is one I didn't want to stay in for very long. The rawness of the sexual encounters that make up much of the book at first seemed to be little more than the kind of meaningless encounters strung together by thin plot lines that are the hallmark of run-of-the-mill porno. I found myself repeatedly referring back to the insightful, new introduction by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. to reassure myself that something worthwhile was going to come of this odyssey through the sordidness of late-60's Denmark.

However, as the novel progresses, the increasing bizarreness of the protagonist George Washington's encounters with women wear on him as much as on the reader. Upon entering the bedroom of his last encounter, he sits on the sofa, head in hands, wondering "What is beauty, Mrs. Hamilton?" When Washington realizes that "everybody in this town, every black person, seems to be living off someone or something else. Everything but their insides" (203), he decides to go back home to the U.S., back to where "the battleground is a bit more familiar" (206).

In his introduction, Louis Gates, Jr. recalls that among his friends at Yale Brown's book was "a required text on our veritable `Quest for Blackness'" (x). I don't pretend to know or understand what lessons he derived about African-American identity from Life and Loves, but the return of Washington to America where the battleground is familiar might be one.
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