Go Tell It On The Mountain
"But to look back from the stony plain along the road which led one to that place is not at all the same thing as walking on the road; the perspective to say the very least, changes only with the journey; only when the road has, all abruptly and treacherously, and with an absoluteness that permits no argument, turned or dropped or risen is one able to see all that one could not have seen from any other place."
Powerful words in amongst a powerful story as we dive into James Baldwin's Go Tell It On The Mountain. This is the second Baldwin Novel I've read, following Giovanni's Room, and I must say, I found this one to be much more captivating. It also came on the heels of Marilynne Robinson's Gilead, another religiously fueled book, so I felt primed for this one.
Have you had a chance to read anything by James Baldwin?
This book tells the story of John Grimes, a teenager living in Harlem during the 30s, son to an oppressive father tied fanatically to his Pentecostal religion. Baldwin's powerful voice brings a pace and emotional grit to this one as we jump back into the lives of everyone around John. We begin to see the people in his lives, not just how they are today but what brought them to this point. I'm always a fan of a book that forces you to question your own feelings about a character partway through the book. Do I see this person in a different light now, or does my opinion still hold?
Great book, and I think I'd recommend this one over Giovanni's Room as this one felt more visceral; there was more of an emotional charge to this one. The next Baldwin book on my stack is If Beale Street Could Talk, so looking forward to that one when it comes up!
If you are looking for another classic I'd recommend my post on Ken Kesey's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. With James Baldwin being an influential writer and critic during the Civil Rights Movement, you may want to consider my post on the Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr. as an add-on.