Giovannis Room: Library Edition Audio CD – CD, 1 April 2013
Mass Market Paperback, Import
Audio Cassette, Import
A young American involved with both a woman and a man...Baldwin writes of these matters with unusual candor and yet with such dignity and intensity.-- "New York Times"
Absorbing...[with] immediate emotional impact.-- "Washington Post"
Exciting...A book that belongs in the top rank of fiction.-- "Atlantic"
Mr. Baldwin has taken a very special theme and treated it with great artistry and restraint.-- "Saturday Review"
Narrator Dan Butler captures the brooding nature of the main character, David, who is trapped in a coming-of-age crisis...Butler's rich baritone carries the lilt and rhythmic pacing of the dense, poetic prose that made James Baldwin famous. A novel with as much interior monologue as dialogue can be challenging to hold the listener's interest. Butler surmounts this difficulty by differentiating between David's inner thoughts and his complex outer world through variations in pace, pitch, and tone.-- "AudioFile"
Violent, excruciating beauty.-- "San Francisco Chronicle"
About the Author
James Baldwin (1924-1987), acclaimed New York Times bestselling author, was educated in New York. His first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, received excellent reviews and was immediately recognized as establishing a profound and permanent new voice in American letters. The appearance of The Fire Next Time in 1963, just as the civil rights movement was exploding across the American South, galvanized the nation and continues to reverberate as perhaps the most prophetic and defining statement ever written of the continuing costs of Americans' refusal to face their own history. It became a national bestseller, and Baldwin was featured on the cover of Time. The next year, he was made a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and collaborated with the photographer Richard Avedon on Nothing Personal, a series of portraits of America intended as a eulogy for the slain Medger Evers. His other collaborations include A Rap on Race with Margaret Mead and A Dialogue with the poet-activist Nikki Giovanni. He also adapted Alex Haley's The Autobiography of Malcolm X into One Day When I Was Lost. He was made a commander of the French Legion of Honor a year before his death, one honor among many he achieved in his life.
Dan Butler, audiobook narrator, actor, writer, director, and producer, has had major roles on and off Broadway and has appeared in numerous television shows, including Frasier, House, and Monk. He cowrote and directed Karl Rove, I Love You and has appeared in such feature films as Crazy, Stupid, Love; Silence of the Lambs; Enemy of the State; and Fixing Frank, among others.
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- Publisher : Blackstone Pub; Unabridged edition (1 April 2013)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 0792793692
- ISBN-13 : 978-0792793694
- Item Weight : 358 g
- Dimensions : 18.03 x 4.06 x 15.75 cm
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from India
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Giovanni's Room is a brilliant book. It has all the elements in it to be called a perfect piece of literary fiction - sublime language, complex and realistic characters,a heavy dose of tender emotions and the climactic tragedy.
This lyrical work is a tumultuous study of humans caught in the miasma of shame, lust, guilt and desire. The protagonist is trapped in what is society's conception of correctness. The city of Paris, the bar houses, the streets and 'Giovanni's room' mimic this congestion. It's breathtaking how the writer has juxtaposed the abstract and the physical.
Everything about this book is hauntingly mesmerising and tenderly moving. It is a remarkable gay novel, but it's not just a gay novel. It's about everyone and for everyone.
Please read this, I insist you.
What I didn't like was the not so subtle misogyny in the book which is definitely unsettling not so much because it is anti women which, well, it is, but more because it creates a sinister relationship between homosexuality and misogyny. It can be misleading and harmful in ways more than one. I can't say if the author intended that but the last thing one expects to find in gay literature is the usual streaks of homophobia laced with comfortable ignorance and insensitivity.
But I can't change my stand on how compelling this book is. It's easily one of the best books I have read, a 5 🌟 book if not for the not-so-slightly bugging thing about women and gays, so I give it 4 🌟
Here, have a look at this bewichingly beautiful paragraph -
"I remember that life in that room seemed to be occurring beneath the sea, time flowed past indifferently above us, hours and days had no meaning. In the beginning our life held a joy and amazement which was newborn every day. Beneath the joy, of course, was anguish and beneath the amazement was fear; but they did not work themselves to the beginning until our high beginning was aloes on our tongues. By then anguish and fear had become the surface on which we slipped and slid, losing balance, dignity, and pride."
Have I convinced you enough?
James Baldwin’s writing is at best confused. Characters aren’t developed properly and this leads to absolutely chaos in their behaviour.
While you do feel sorry for the plight Giovanni and David are in, you certainly don’t feel any emotional connect with either of them. This has more to do with Baldwin’s writing, than the characters themselves.
As a whole, Giovanni’s Room is a half-hearted attempt at a story that could have been made heart-breakingly beautiful. Unfortunately, it falls dismally short.
But I’m willing to give Baldwin the praise he deserves for tackling such a sensitive topic at a time when it was illegal to even talk about it.
Pick up this book if you’re looking to expand your reading horizons, but don’t let your expectations run wild.
For all that it is a book about two men in love in a time when it was still very much a struggle to even hint at being anything less than straight, it is also a story of two people who fell for each other, who are deeply flawed and who react in different ways to circumstances surrounding them. Giovanni looked at that love as it was, just love whereas David couldn’t even accept himself let alone that love, it’s a story of struggle and living with the choices they make. I will definitely be reading more of Baldwin’s books for sure.
Top reviews from other countries
Although I am straight, and have never been remotely interested in men...I have a sympathy for anyone going through any kind of emotional turmoil.
David, the narrator, has a sentience which is impossible to me, and every moment would be painful if I was that aware of my feelings...but it's Baldwin's psychological clarity which is the punch of the book. Its USP.
David finds himself, loses himself, and breaks the continuity with his old life and American destiny in a grubby little room belonging to the charismatic Giovanni. In France, homosexuality was permissible, unlike in the UK, but people's dalliances and relationships were mostly clandestine and hidden away from the respectable veneer of society. Young men, knowing their life could never be accepted in the mainstream, find themselves at the mercy of poorly paid jobs, with no future. And many rely on the patronage of wealthy men, who prey on them in the shadows of Paris.
That Baldwin was a black man, living in Paris, is notable. But despite the obvious struggles Baldwin must have faced in America and France with his ethnicity, there isn't a trace of that in the book. But there is an intensity to sexual politics. And the character of David's girlfriend, Hella, is drawn with sympathetic attention to her own struggles, both as a woman...and as someone who realises the person she loves, she didn't really know at all.
It's not a book I can say I enjoyed although I'm glad I read it.
None of the characters are happy and any happiness they find is short lived. They are unhappy about their own sexuality and this spills into all aspects of their life's. They cannot be happy because of who/what they are. You know that there will be no happy ending.