Thursday, August 02, 2007

Bulletin from Another Country

After a week of light reading, it was shock to my system to plunge headlong into James Baldwin's Another Country. It's the antithesis of light reading, full of violence and despair. The violence is not just in the events recounted, but in the very language of the novel, such that I felt as if I'd been knocked about a bit myself by the time I emerged at the end of chapter one.

In this opening chapter, events unfold through the eyes of down-and-out jazz musician Rufus Scott. At first I thought that the whole novel would be told from his perspective and, compelling though this character and his story are, I wasn't sure that I could bear being inside his head for 400+ pages. Before long I discovered that the second chapter switches to the perspective of another character, and the third, yet another. In typically contradictory fashion, however, the relief that I felt at escaping a first hand view of Rufus's pain soon gave way to a longing to return to the intensity of his experience.

I'm not sure how the various perspectives will hang together in the end. I'm only a third of the way into the novel, so it's far too early for any definitive conclusions. Consider this a bulletin along the way with more, much more, to come as I venture further into Another Country.

1 comment:

Jordan said...

Ever read Giovanni's Room? It's intense. It's amazing.