Tuesday, January 08, 2008

If Beale Street Could Talk

Read this book. Please, please, please read this book. It is beautiful in its grit, rawness, and despair because despite all the foolishness the central characters have to deal with, they love each other. This is a black man (James Baldwin) writing about a black woman (Tish) who is so very loved by a black man, (Fonny) and vice versa (because apparently we can't do that anymore). They are not beautiful people. He isn't tall with rippling muscles and a six-pack. She doesn't have curves that rival a mountain road and she wouldn't be gracing any Cosmos anytime soon. They are simply two young-adult black people in the '70s who love each other. He has nothing to offer her but his love, but I swear to all that is holy, I'd rather have a man like Fonny Hunt than the world's wealthiest and most handsome CEO. And the fact Fonny is in some serious trouble and Tish loves him. Tish's family rallies around him, so does Fonny's father. These people aren't wealthy. They all have rough edges. They cuss. They drink. They steal. But they love, and they love HARD and they love genuinely and they love true.

He stopped and looked at me, very quiet, very hard: there was a hardness in him I had barely sensed before. Within this hardness moved his love, moved as a torrent or as a fire moves, above reason, beyond argument, not to be modified in any degree by anything life might do. I was his, and he was mine--I suddenly realized that I would be very unlucky and perhaps a dead girl should I ever attempt to challenge this decree. (p. 76-77, Vintage)

Can I write like that when I grow up? Lawd, just . . . read this book. You won't regret it. It's not a romance, it's a love story, the kind that just makes you really thankful that there is such a thing as love despite all the other foolishness life can throw at you.

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