Sunday, February 25, 2024

#BookReview #BookReviewers #SexyNerd...#GoTellItOnTheMountain #BlackHistoryMonth #BecauseOfReading #BookLove @SexyNerdRevue


In one of the greatest American classics, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy's discovery of the terms of his identity. Baldwin's rendering of his protagonist's spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves.

With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin tells the story of the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Originally published in 1953, Baldwin said of his first novel, "Mountain is the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else."

The Sexy Nerd's Review. . .

Anytime I’ve heard anything about great literature, James Baldwin’s name almost always comes up. I’m not quite sure why I haven’t read any of his books, but in paying homage to Black History Month, I thought it was most appropriate that I’d give his first novel a try. Suffice it to say, I have mixed reviews about it.

Baldwin’s voice is as poetic as they come. That, in and of itself, I enjoyed immensely. However, having said that, it also was sort of a curse for me. I found the story confusing at times and his prose was so in depth to the point I lost the point of what he was trying to convey to the reader. After having read several reviews of his first novel, I feel almost dumb in comparison, but I didn’t get everything he was allegedly informing the reader.

It wasn’t until I got to about 95% of the story, that it really donned on me what the book was telling me. I think the way he broke the book down wasn’t in the simplest terms. But, after reading the final chapter, the story began to form in my mind. I was so lost in the prose and the style of writing that I forgot to enjoy the actual story.

Baldwin breaks this story down into three parts. He tells the story of how each of the family dynamics came to be who and what they are. John Grimes, our protagonist, is a young teenager guiding the reader into the lives of his mother Elizabeth and stepfather, Gabriel, who is a Pentecostal preacher.

Gabriel and his sister Florence, John’s aunt, do not have a warm and fuzzy sibling relationship. Gabriel came to harbor much hate in his heart for his dear sister because she left him and their mother while she was on her deathbed. Florence knew that staying behind and caring for their ailing mother was not in the cards for her and left Gabriel to his own devices. All the while Florence was trying to live her best life, she soon learned that her life wasn’t going to become a bed of roses.

Once Gabriel took care of his deceased mother’s affairs and moved on with life through all his grief and pain, he ended up becoming good friends with a woman at his church named Deborah, with whom he eventually married. Unfortunately for them, their marriage wasn't a very happy one, but one they both became content with. That is, until a young woman named, Esther, enters the picture and stirs up feelings that Gabriel thought long were dead. When all the backstories begin to form a solid picture, what the reader soon finds out is just how imperfect we all are regardless of your background and/or your faith.  Baldwin demonstrated the struggles and imperfections of each character eloquently. 

As I mentioned, I was so caught up in the prose in which this story was told that I lost some of its meaning. But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the story. I did. It just wasn’t what I was expecting. Am I glad I read the book? Absolutely! I don’t regret reading this at all and I plan to read more of Baldwin’s work. Now that I have a handle on how he tells a story, I think I will find his work that much more pleasurable to read.

The Sexy Nerd gives Go Tell It On the Mountain four extra churchgoers to shout about it. I was able to learn a little about the author while reading this. Baldwin’s writing is a work of literary art. If you’ve never read any of his work, I do encourage you to give it a try. His voice is magnificent. Until next time, Nerds, you know what to do.

Open a Book and Get Mind Blown!

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