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Freedom in this Village: Twenty-Five Years of Black Gay Men's Writing

by E. Lynn Harris (Editor)

Other authors: James Baldwin (Contributor), Joseph Beam (Contributor), Don Belton (Contributor), Randy Boyd (Contributor), Keith Boykin (Contributor)42 more, Sidney Brinkley (Contributor), Cyrus Cassells (Contributor), Don Charles (Contributor), Steven Corbin (Contributor), Samuel R. Delany (Contributor), Melvin Dixon (Contributor), Larry Duplechan (Contributor), Gary Fisher (Contributor), Salih Michael Fisher (Contributor), David Frechette (Contributor), Daniel Garrett (Contributor), Gil Gerald (Contributor), Thomas Glave (Contributor), Forrest Hamer (Contributor), James Hannaham (Contributor), James Earl Hardy (Contributor), Craig G. Harris (Contributor), E. Lynn Harris (Contributor), Essex Hemphill (Contributor), Brian Keith Jackson (Contributor), Donald Keith Jackson (Contributor), Isaac Jackson (Contributor), G. Winston James (Contributor), Cary Alan Johnson (Contributor), Cy K. Jones (Contributor), John Keene (Contributor), Randall Kenan (Contributor), Bruce Morrow (Contributor), Robert E. Penn (Contributor), Carl Phillips (Contributor), Robert Reid-Pharr (Contributor), Marlon Riggs (Contributor), L.M. Ross (Contributor), Assotto Saint (Contributor), Darieck Scott (Contributor), Reginald Shepherd (Contributor), Jerry Thompson (Contributor), Vega (Contributor), Tim'm West (Contributor), Marvin K. White (Contributor), Donald W. Woods (Contributor), Bil Wright (Contributor)

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842325,866 (4.13)1
Freedom in This Village charts for the first time ever the innovative course of black gay male literature of the past 25 years. Starting in 1979 with the publication of James Baldwin's final novel, Just Above My Head, then on to the radical writings of the 1980s, the breakthrough successes of the 1990s, and up to today's new works, editor E. Lynn Harris collects 47 sensational stories, poems, novel excerpts, and essays. Authors featured include Samuel R. Delany, Essex Hemphill, Melvin Dixon, Marlon Riggs, Assotto Saint, Larry Duplechan, Reginald Shepherd, Carl Phillips, Keith Boykin, Randall Kenan, Thomas Glave, James Earl Hardy, Darieck Scott, Gary Fisher, Bruce Morrow, John Keene, G. Winston James, Bil Wright, Robert Reid Pharr, Brian Keith Jackson, as well as an array of exciting new and established writers.… (more)
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like most collections, this is a bit hit or miss. it's a little unusual (in a way i like) in that it's a mixture of poetry, fiction, and essays.

at first i was surprised that the works from the mid-80's didn't talk at all about hiv or aids; i kept waiting for it to come up. i guess when you're trying to represent an entire year in one or two samples of work, you can't get everything. still, it was surprising to me that the first reference to aids was in a poem from 1989, and it's oblique and not directly mentioned at all.

i didn't like all of this, and some of the essays, i thought, were too much of their time. out of context of the time they didn't have nearly the same meaning. or maybe that's not true if you're a part of this community, and the references to those groups and community partners has more of a connection. for me, a white woman, the meaning had been lost because i hadn't heard of the places or people or groups they were talking about in such detail. some of the poetry was really good, but mostly it was the fiction that resonated most with me in this collection, and mostly the more recent work. of course the james baldwin and samuel r delany were great, even though it's never my preference to read an excerpt from a longer work as both of these are. actually their two pieces were the only ones in the first decade (1979-1989) that i really liked in the book. it started to get better for me after 1989, and i especially liked melvin dixon's piece from 1989. other authors i liked were craig g harris, randall kenan, and brian keith jackson (especially this last, which was an essay, and probably the only nonfiction piece in the entire book that i really liked). toward the end and the most recent writings, i really liked the james hannahan - his was the best writing since the baldwin and delany early on - and bruce morrow and e lynn harris.

there were at least a couple of instances of sexualizing violence that really bothered me, where it seemed the author wanted the reader to be turned on by rape or forced sexual acts. and a handful where the writing was really not good. (plus some typos - audre lorde's name was misspelled, differently, a couple of times.)

not all of these are good, and some of the ones that aren't, i didn't like at all. but some of these are really good, and more than that, this collects 25 years of black, gay writing, all in one place. it's mostly authors i'd never heard of before, and i'm eager to learn more of them, and of more than them. i think it's an important book, even as i didn't enjoy everything in it. ( )
  overlycriticalelisa | Apr 20, 2019 |
Let me begin with a confession: this cannot be a completely unbiased review. Many of the men whose works are collected here are my friends and colleagues. I’ve laughed with them, whined about the writing life with them, exchanged e-mails and drafts of work with some, took one out dancing, another out to dinner, bought a third the last drink he had in my city. The men represented here are in many ways my brothers. Picking up this volume is like seeing myself and my past reflected back at me. It is a glorious sight.

I will get my few quibbles about the anthology out of the way as well. Perhaps one more pass by an editor would have picked up on the all caps printing of Marvin K. White’s poem. The relatively small ratio of poets to prose writers in the collection does not accurately reflect the centrality of verse in the making of contemporary black gay America. Finally, the bibliography at the close of the book, is also somewhat frustratingly incomplete, listing, for example, only one of Cyrus Cassells four books of poetry, and Randal Keenan’s fiction, but not his nonfiction tour of black America Walking on Water. Use of the word ‘selected’ here would have solved this problem.

But enough nit picking: This is a wonderful, panoramic collection of work. ( )
  rmharris | Oct 20, 2008 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Harris, E. LynnEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baldwin, JamesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beam, JosephContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Belton, DonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boyd, RandyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boykin, KeithContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brinkley, SidneyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cassells, CyrusContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Charles, DonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Corbin, StevenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Delany, Samuel R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dixon, MelvinContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Duplechan, LarryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fisher, GaryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fisher, Salih MichaelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Frechette, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Garrett, DanielContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gerald, GilContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Glave, ThomasContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hamer, ForrestContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hannaham, JamesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hardy, James EarlContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Harris, Craig G.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Harris, E. LynnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hemphill, EssexContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jackson, Brian KeithContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jackson, Donald KeithContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jackson, IsaacContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
James, G. WinstonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Johnson, Cary AlanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jones, Cy K.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Keene, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kenan, RandallContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Morrow, BruceContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Penn, Robert E.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Phillips, CarlContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Reid-Pharr, RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Riggs, MarlonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ross, L.M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Saint, AssottoContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Scott, DarieckContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shepherd, ReginaldContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Thompson, JerryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
VegaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
West, Tim'mContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
White, Marvin K.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Woods, Donald W.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wright, BilContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Freedom in This Village charts for the first time ever the innovative course of black gay male literature of the past 25 years. Starting in 1979 with the publication of James Baldwin's final novel, Just Above My Head, then on to the radical writings of the 1980s, the breakthrough successes of the 1990s, and up to today's new works, editor E. Lynn Harris collects 47 sensational stories, poems, novel excerpts, and essays. Authors featured include Samuel R. Delany, Essex Hemphill, Melvin Dixon, Marlon Riggs, Assotto Saint, Larry Duplechan, Reginald Shepherd, Carl Phillips, Keith Boykin, Randall Kenan, Thomas Glave, James Earl Hardy, Darieck Scott, Gary Fisher, Bruce Morrow, John Keene, G. Winston James, Bil Wright, Robert Reid Pharr, Brian Keith Jackson, as well as an array of exciting new and established writers.

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