Re: Book Two: Any Day Now - Chapters 1, 2, 3 & 4
You're very tired, and the last thing you might need is a book that seems wearying at times--I get it. Looking at the back-cover blurb on my edition, I see the grimness of Baldwin's vision is hailed as" expos[ing] the American dream as a never-to-be-forgotten nightmare." Several other quotes stress the power and fierceness of Baldwin's portrait of our society at the time, such as the NYT's: "Searing...violent (!)...brilliantly and fiercely told." All of that is true, resulting in a novel in which simple happiness is almost absent (until the very end, really). Baldwin gives no quarter to our normal needs and expectations for a novel; I can't decide what to make of that, whether to credit him for being uncompromising and fearless, or to blame him for heavy-handedness and distortion. Well, I found the first long chapter on Rufus very compelling, but 300 more pages of alienation and urban misery were not easy to stay with. I guess Baldwin intended that as strong medicine. Does it tend to kill the reader?
His view of sexuality is interesting, though, something we see explored in the second half of the book.