71 Following


My corner in BookLikes

Currently reading

Risk Return (Return on Investment Book 2)
Aleksandr Voinov
Paul Markun
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen
The Little Book of Mindfulness: 10 minutes a day to less stress, more peace
Patrizia Collard

Beautifully romantic and painfully tragic

Giovanni's Room - James Baldwin

So rarely does an author really capture the essence of finding oneself unexpectedly smitten, that I had a moment of wonder when reading “He smiled bleakly and looked at me; to my surprise, he took my hand and held it.”. Giovanni’s Room is about saying yes to life, about taking a chance no matter how absurd it may seem. The number one yes-man was Jacques, David’s older friend (really benefactor) whom David actually kind of hated. Jacques, calls David out on his hate:

”There are so many ways of being despicable it quite makes one’s head spin. But the way to be really despicable is to be contemptuous of other people’s pain. You ought to have some apprehension that the man you see before you was once even younger than you are now and arrived at his present wretchedness by imperceptible degrees.“

Even so, Jacque encourages David to take a chance, with some practical advice:

“Love him,” said Jacques, with vehemence, “love him and let him love you. Do you think anything else under heaven really matters? And how long, at the best, can it last? since you are both men and still have everywhere to go? Only five minutes, I assure you, only five minutes, and most of that, hélas! in the dark. And if you think of them as dirty, then they will be dirty—they will be dirty because you will be giving nothing, you will be despising your flesh and his. But you can make your time together anything but dirty; you can give each other something which will make both of you better—forever—if you will not be ashamed, if you will only not play it safe.”

Jacques was not supposed to be a very likable character, but I actually liked him. While he was an unsung hero in this tale, it was not his story. It was about David and his love and hate and the world into which he had to reconcile himself. David’s world included Giovanni whose star shined bright, and Hella who was firmly planted to the ground. It was about David’s choice between the two, and ultimately realizing that the one thing he couldn’t choose was who he was.

Extra note. Giovanni’s Room was originally published in the 1956. I felt that the ‘delicate’ subject matter of two men falling in love was artfully portrayed by the author, and was curious as to how it was received at the time of publication. I easily found a New York Times review (thanks internet) that’s worth a quick read. http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/03/29....