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Monday, November 30, 2009

If Beale Street Could Talk

A great, inspiring title (for a blues aficionado such as me in any case), If Beale Street Could Talk, disappointingly is not followed by a novel living up to its billing. My knowledge of Afro-American writers is cursory at best and picking up James Baldwin's novel was supposed to be a step towards rescinding that. Yet, I did not really enjoy reading it. The story was too simplistic, too clear cut. From the bad white cop, to the fearful Hispanic lady, the young black heroes, no character truly developed any depth. Characters were either bad or good, with no gray in between. Plus, the story was oddly sexist, especially maybe for a supposedly liberal (and homosexual) writer. I felt at times as if all Baldwin was trying to achieve was teach black youngsters the values of sticking to one's family and the virtues of a healthy relationship. All this might be fine and dandy, but I did not find it interesting enough to truly enthrall me. Plus, I feel that the teaching of values in a more subtle manner would be more promising (but that might only be valid for me). In any case, I really believe that this book was geared more towards youngsters and am simply too demanding.

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