Notes of a Native Son

Baldwin, James. Notes of a Native Son. Boston: Beacon Press, 1990.

Reason read: November is National Writing Month. I chose Notes of a Native Son under the category of essays.

I have to start off by saying Notes of a Native Son was way too short. I felt that Baldwin could have kept writing and writing. His essays held such clarity and truth they could have been written last year, last month, or even last week. Ranging from an analytical commentary of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin to remembering the time he was jailed in Paris for allegedly stealing a bedsheet, Baldwin expresses his place in society with the utmost frankness. The most tender of moments came when writing about his father, a man with which he had a complicated relationship.

Quotes to quote about hate, “Hate is a very fertile yet dangerous place from which to draw creativity” (p 37), and “I imagine that one of those reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, that they will be forced to deal with pain” (p 91). So true.
Another line I liked, “This seals the action off, as it were, in a vacuum in which the spectacle of color is divested of danger” (p 45).

Author fact: Did you know Baldwin was a preacher for three years, from the age of 14 to 17, or that he was a waiter at 22?

Book trivia: Baldwin talks about writing his first novel. It was interesting to hear about the process.

Nancy said: Pearl said Baldwin is an essayist not to miss.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Essaying Essays” (p 80).



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