Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Review of 'Giovanni's Room' by James Baldwin

"Set in the 1950's Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality.  With a sharp, probing imagination, James Baldwin's now-classic narrative delves into the mystery of loving and creates a moving, highly controversial story of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of the human heart."

This was a book that I had to read for school.  Lately, I've been enjoying the books we've read very much.  Even though the class itself is challenging (I'm probably being graded somewhere in the C family), I've quite enjoyed it and I'm going to miss it when it's over.

'Giovanni's Room' started out a little slow, but soon picked up speed as we met Guillaume, Jacques, Giovanni himself, and became more familiar with David, the main character.  It became even more interesting when Hella (David's girlfriend) returns from Spain and meets Giovanni.

This book is primarily about David struggling with his sexuality-- dealing with societal pressures, mainly.  It's a little painful to see him go to Giovanni while Hella is gone only to return to Hella because that's how men are "supposed" to behave.  David is his own Judas in that he betrays himself-- he's not true to himself for staying with Hella.  He ends up hurting more people than he helps by not being true to himself.

Something interesting is the way women are talked about in this book.  Being a woman, female, or being feminine seems to be a bad thing.  Hella tells David that if he stays with her, she will put the books away and essentially be a stereotypical woman.  One quote that I found particularly shocking was, "Hell, I want to be knocked up.  I want to start having babies.  In a way, it's all I'm good for." (123) This is said by Hella, the only female character that really makes an appearance.

It's controversial for a number of reasons, but honestly, I feel as though it makes the book that much more interesting.

This book is not too hard to understand, which is quite nice for me, because I have to write a paper on it.

Overall, 'Giovanni's Room' deals with many difficult and sensitive topics, but is well worth the read.

I give 'Giovanni's Room':
Thanks for Reading!


P.S. Once next semester gets underway, I hope to have more reviews coming out.  I'm taking a non-CIS Literature and Film class, so it should be much easier to deal with.  I'm only half regretting not taking the college writing class (which is CIS or College in the Schools).  So good news for you guys, but iffy-leaning-good-thing for me, I suppose.  I think I'll like it a lot once we actually get started.

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