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If Beale Street Could Talk Paperback – October 10, 2006
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"One of the best books Baldwin has ever written–perhaps the best of all." –The Philadelphia Inquirer
"A moving, painful story, so vividly human and so obviously based on reality that it strikes us as timeless.”–Joyce Carol Oates
""f Van Gogh was our nineteenth-century artist-saint, James Baldwin is our twentiethth-century one." –Michael Ondaatje
"Striking and particularly haunting. . . . A beauty, especially in its rendering of youthful passion." –Cosmopolitan
"A major work of Black American fiction... His best novel yet, even Baldwin's most devoted readers are due to be stunned by it." –The New Republic
"Emotional dynamite... a powerful assault upon the cynicism that seems today to drain our determination to confront deep social problems." –Library Journal
"A moving, painful story, so vividly human and so obviously based on reality that it strikes us as timeless." –The New York Times Book Review
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The first 25% of the book is beautiful slice of life from a singular perspective. When the plot really kicks in is when this falters for me. I wanted more there there, more flow. In a way, it feels like Baldwin got sick of writing about the situation he put his characters in.
Top international reviews
The girl's family is loving and supportive whilst the boy's family is more conflicted.
There are some wonderful conversations in this book, but the passage I enjoyed the most is concerned with the antagonism between the two families when they meet to discuss how they should deal with the girl's pregnancy The encounter is both physically and verbally pretty brutal and I loved it.
If you are someone who is not keen on the use of swear words then you might want to give this a wide birth as they are used quite liberally and with great effect; the book is populated by realistic characters with real and very difficult lives.
An ever present throughout the book is a hatred of the racism these characters have to negotiate their lives through.
The author himself was a black homosexual civil rights activist and I, as a middle-class white male, couldn't fail to get a real sense of the indignities, wrongs and frustrations heaped on the American black population. I also felt that the voices of the characters were noticeably different from those written by white authors e.g. you wont hear white men referring to each other as "baby".
The language employed is not difficult and the book, whilst by no means simple, is a joy to read and I can't for the life of me understand people giving a book of this quality a poor review.
It's a short powerful read that packs a punch, brings alive two individuals who don't give up on each other because sometimes love is all you've got in life.
Fonny's family were a bit too bad though and things are not always in black and white. People are not often simply good or bed. There's an in between that the author didn't delve in to until the very end of the book which was a shame. I think the book was too short , ending too abruptly .
recommend this book, very easy to read good storyline and good characters.
Leaves you wanting to know more