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Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone by…

Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone (1968)

by James Baldwin

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516328,169 (4.11)24



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Leo is a famous, black, bisexual stage actor who has just had a serious heart attack. As he is in the hospital he thinks back on episodes of his life, in non-chronological order. This structure made the writing a little choppy. I've been reading a lot of James Baldwin this year and this is the first book that I've felt was too long (by about 200 pages). I preferred the parts of the book that dealt with the theater, but the parts about Leo's childhood in Harlem felt like I'd read them before in other Baldwin books and a lot of the book was pretty boring. I thought that his love affairs were particularly uninteresting. I wouldn't recommend starting with this book if you are new to Baldwin's work. The narration by Kevin Kenerly of the audiobook was excellent. ( )
  fhudnell | Jul 29, 2017 |
Made my top 20. James Baldwin was an amazing writer. ( )
  Janethawn | Feb 2, 2015 |
Tell me how James Baldwin manages to write so sweetly and angrily, but without bitterness. The plot is simple: Leo, a successful actor, has a heart attack, and the book is his reminiscence of his life up to this point, his reflections on his family, his struggles becoming an actor, and his relationships with two people he loves - Barbara, a fellow actor, and Christopher, an activist. Baldwin explores issues of race, vocation, art, and friendship.

Published in 1968, the book was panned by a New York Times critic, but I found it a moving tale of a man's struggle for integrity within the limits set by forces outside his control. ( )
1 vote markon | Jul 2, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375701893, Paperback)

At the height of his theatrical career, the actor Leo Proudhammer is nearly felled by a heart attack. As he hovers between life and death, Baldwin shows the choices that have made him enviably famous and terrifyingly vulnerable.  

For between Leo's childhood on the streets of Harlem and his arrival into the intoxicating world of the theater lies a wilderness of desire and loss, shame and rage. An adored older brother vanishes into prison. There are love affairs with a white woman and a younger black man, each of whom will make irresistible claims on Leo's loyalty. And everywhere there is the anguish of being black in a society that at times seems poised on the brink of total racial war. Overpowering in its vitality, extravagant in the intensity of its feeling, Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone is a major work of American literature.  

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:13 -0400)

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