9 May 2016

Another Country

I just finished reading Baldwin's 1962 novel Another Country. The story explores a number of previously taboo themes (inter-racial and bisexual love, especially). It shows clear signs of having been written over a long period of time. Some parts of the novel--including the initial and final sections--are terribly written, whereas a few of the later sections are quite brilliant. The writer makes the surprising move of killing off the main character in the beginning of the story. On the other hand, the tendency of virtually all the novel's men, who are for the most part initially described as heterosexual, to suddenly jump into each other's beds is farcical to say the least. (This would be great fodder for a Saturday Night Live skit.) The editor who accepted the manuscript deserves some of the blame. Baldwin was famous at this point, but the editor really should  have sent the draft back for major revisions. Entire sections and plot lines should have been cut.

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