Monday, January 10, 2005

I have just spent a decadent

and delightful evening rereading one of my very short-list absolute favorite novels of all time, James Baldwin's Just Above My Head. It's one of those novels that you really want to weep when you finish, partly because it's so moving but mostly just because you can't believe it's over. David Copperfield always makes me feel this way, and my very beloved The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West. It combines the best elements of his essay-writing (and of course Baldwin's essays are just superb, I think that's really his most fundamental mode) with the best of novel-writing in a way that I don't think his other fiction really does. Books like Giovanni's Room and Another Country are impressive but just don't have the same satisfactions as this one--I wish more people would read it, and teach it (though I imagine its length and its sort of waywardness in terms of formal structure and its relatively late publication date make it much less likely to be taught in college classes than those others).

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