Monday, October 13, 2014

Reread: Go Tell It on the Mountain (by James Baldwin)

This was on my reread list for the year, and also the League of Unreliable Narrators book club selection. (We've decided to take turns choosing a book that we have read, but the other person hasn't. Next up, Chris has chosen Wise Blood, which I am super stoked about.)

The discussion we had truly elevated my experience of this novel. All I remembered about it was its musicality, its religious themes, and its homoerotic subtext. I'd forgotten almost everything else. So it was a delight to go through and unpack some of the subtleties that make this such a masterpiece. (It may be nominally a "coming-of-age" story about a fourteen-year-old, but it's squarely an adult novel, with stories of John's mother, father, and aunt filling out the narrative.)

I felt like I was coming back to it as a totally different person--further removed from my Catholic upbringing, more informed about issues of race, and obviously, older--the first time I read it was almost exactly 14 years ago. (I just went back and read my original review, and my take on race was truly embarrassing, so I guess "more informed" is right.) For such a small novel, it covers a lot of ground--one generation removed from slavery, the experience in the north vs. the south, domestic abuse, sin and imperfection, complex familial relationships, and of course, the nature of religion and its role in the African-American community, both good and bad.

Definitely glad I came back to this one after so many years; and it made for an excellent book club discussion. Chris's awesome-as-always Goodreads review is here.

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Blogger Beth said...

Your blog needs a like button because I like this review but have nothing further to say about it. Heh.

8:01 AM  
Blogger mo pie said...

This comment needs a like button because I enjoyed your comment!

9:59 AM  

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