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Another Country (Penguin Modern Classics) by…
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Another Country (Penguin Modern Classics) (original 1962; edition 2010)

by James Baldwin

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1,981274,926 (4.12)89
Member:ericaheinz
Title:Another Country (Penguin Modern Classics)
Authors:James Baldwin
Info:Penguin Books, Limited (UK) (2010), Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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Another Country by James Baldwin (1962)

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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
I am appalled that it took me so long to read Baldwin, but I am gradually correcting my outrageous neglect of this important author. He was a tremendously skillful writer. This character-driven book is about a group of authors, musicians, actors and a few others who come together in New York City. They are male, female, black, white, heterosexual and bisexual. They love, hurt, attract, challenge and repel each other in various combinations. They also struggle with issues surrounding their careers, families, race and sexuality.

There is a staccato rhythm to this book. Although it is not plot-driven, the book moves along very quickly. Baldwin was a master observer. It felt like he had spent hours watching people both alone and interacting in bars, funerals, apartments and on the street. He eavesdropped on conversations and looked through windows. There is clarity in both his observations and his precise use of language. The book ended abruptly and I really wanted to know what happened next to these people.

The narration by Dion Graham of the audiobook was excellent. He even sings well. ( )
  fhudnell | Jun 13, 2017 |
Never read James Baldwin before. What I have missed. His writing is like powerful music. Each sentence stands on it's own and I had to re-read many sentences just to feel the rhythm of each one. And the story is powerful. Being a straight male, I never felt what a gay man feels until reading this, and how close it is to my feelings about women. And being white i could never get a sense of being black as deeply as Ida conveyed that sense to me. The story could be an opera if someone could write a score which would do it justice. ( )
1 vote Joelwb | Oct 16, 2016 |
“Love was a country he knew nothing about.”

This novel centres on tormented love: love between men and women, homosexuals, whites and Negroes, shown through various shifting relationships in a group of friends. Rufus, a Negro boy, has a tragic affair with a Southern white girl escaping an unhappy marriage; she ends in an asylum, he kills himself. Vivaldo, an Irish-Italian, begins a stormy affair with Rufus' sister, Ida. White couple, Cass and Richard, start to break up when Richard begins to find success as a writer. Cass has an affair with Eric, who is now in love with French boy, Yves. All these people are hopelessly involved in each other, and are in search of love both physical and emotional.

The story is told in three parts. The first begins by narrating the last day of Rufus Scott, a struggling Jazz musician before he commits suicide and ends when Vivaldo Moore begins an affair with Rufus's sister Ida.

Part two opens with actor Eric Jones and Yves in southern France, and then follows Eric to New York where he renews old friendships. Richard Silenski’s career as a writer begins to flourish but his marriage comes apart. His wife Cass begins an affair with Eric whilst simultaneously Vivaldo and Ida’s relationship unravels. It ends with Cass’s confession to Richard.

In part three Vivaldo and Eric end up making love. This releases them into new understandings of themselves and of the nature of love. Vivaldo realises that he is not homosexual, but he need not be afraid of loving a male friend.

There is great characterisation throughout although I must admit that personally did not find Ida particularly likeable as she seems very selfish and critical of others.She just seems constantly angry with everyone about her. I did struggle to believe that people can so seemingly easily switch between hetro and homosexual love as I would have thought that you were one or the other but that said it did make me think a little differently about my own relationship. Overall I found it an interesting read and I would certainly be interested in reading other works by the author. ( )
1 vote PilgrimJess | Jan 30, 2016 |
Despite the fact that this book seems a bit dated today, it manages to capture a very special time in our history. Dealing with issues of sexual identity and race relations like no other book before it was published, this was a groundbreaking novel. ( )
1 vote dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Another Country is a book full of tortured souls. The writing was fluid and beautiful but I expected nothing less from the incomparable James Baldwin. There were times when I wanted to give up on this story and all the tremendously flawed people that shaped it. In Another Country there is no joy and no peace.

All the characters in this novel are connected by one central character, Rufus. Rufus is a jazz musician from Harlem who commits suicide but not before wrecking havoc in and upon a lot of people's lives. The fall out of emotions upon the relationships of his friends and family in reaction to his life and death is what Baldwin has put into words. An unlikely pairing happens after Rufus' death between his sister, Ida, and his best friend, Vivaldo. Vivaldo loves Ida passionately but Ida can't seem to get past her blackness and his whiteness to love him the same. Richard and Cass are the older more established couple who seem bring balance to this circle of friends. When Eric a friend of all and an ex-lover of Rufus returns to New York from Paris all the masks begin to come off.

Ida had to be my least favorite character. She was so angry but not in the stereotypical angry black woman kind of way. Her anger steamed more from fear. Vivlado was so unstable until he became annoying but he was the most likable. Eric was so troubled and damaged by his childhood experiences and the turmoil that he suffered while with Rufus that he seemed numb. He masked the numbness with his promiscuity. I wanted to like Cass. Initially, I thought she was the most genuine character but in the end she was just as broken and tormented as the rest. I simply detested Rufus. He was as disgusting to me as Cholly Breedlove and that's disgusting.

This would not be a Baldwin novel if he did not deal with social issues such as race, class, and same sex relationships. Baldwin has a way of eloquently showing people's ugly core as they deal with such issues. He doesn't allow any character to simply get by but he makes them face and confront their weaknesses and lies.

Personally, I feel like this novel was simply about a lot of broken people who remained in toxic relationships too long. This book was draining and extremely melancholy. It will weigh you down. ( )
1 vote pinkcrayon99 | Jul 17, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Baldwinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Baldwin, Jamesmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Tóibín, ColmIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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They strike one, above all, as giving no account of themselves, in any term already consecrated by human use; to this inarticulate state they probably form, collectively, the most unprecendented of monuments; abysmal the mystery of what they think, what they feel, what they want, what they suppose themselves to be saying. HENRY JAMES
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He was facing Seventh Avenue, at Times Square.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679744711, Paperback)

Set in Greenwich Village, Harlem, and France, among other locales, Another Country is a novel of passions--sexual, racial, political, artistic--that is stunning for its emotional intensity and haunting sensuality, depicting men and women, blacks and whites, stripped of their masks of gender and race by love and hatred at the most elemental and sublime. In a small set of friends, Baldwin imbues the best and worst intentions of liberal America in the early 1970s.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:15 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Set in Greenwich Village, Harlem, and France, among other locales, Another Country is a novel of passions--sexual, racial, political, artistic--that is stunning for its emotional intensity and haunting sensuality, depicting men and women, blacks and whites, stripped of their masks of gender and race by love and hatred at the most elemental and sublime. In a small set of friends, Baldwin imbues the best and worst intentions of liberal America in the early 1970s.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141186372, 0143566334

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