August Wilson, Fences

Fences by August Wilson My rating: 4 of 5 stars I know I said that I would read August Wilson's Century Cycle in their chronological order, but everyone is talking about Fences because of the movie, which I have not seen, so I skipped ahead to that one, probably Wilson's most famous and acclaimed play. … Continue reading August Wilson, Fences

James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin My rating: 3 of 5 stars James Baldwin is today so universally beloved, so piously received, that it almost comes as a relief to find this, his generally acclaimed second novel, so uncongenial to contemporary sensibilities as to be positively disturbing. On the back cover, Michael Ondaatje proclaims Baldwin a … Continue reading James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

Charles Johnson, Middle Passage

Middle Passage by Charles Johnson My rating: 4 of 5 stars Middle Passage begins with an audacious sentence, "Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I've come to learn, is women," which announces its audacious conceit: published just four years after Beloved's solemn Freudian-Faulknerian modernism arrogated slavery to the … Continue reading Charles Johnson, Middle Passage

August Wilson, Gem of the Ocean

Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson My rating: 5 of 5 stars It is perhaps an open question as to the order in which one should read August Wilson’s plays—the chronological order of the Century Cycle, Wilson’s ten-play decade-by-decade portrayal of the African-American experience in the twentieth century, moving from Gem of the Ocean … Continue reading August Wilson, Gem of the Ocean

Toni Morrison, Sula

Sula by Toni Morrison My rating: 5 of 5 stars Sula is an anarchic novel and a conservative one. Toni Morrison, because she is a sort of multicultural figurehead, passes herself off as (and tends to be received as) some kind of left-liberal; and her later fiction—notably Paradise and A Mercy, both of which tend … Continue reading Toni Morrison, Sula

Langston Hughes, The Weary Blues

The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes My rating: 4 of 5 stars Following on from my review of Crane's White Buildings—which begins with some general reflections on the reading of poetry—I am trying to pay more attention to modern poets. I especially appreciate books like this one: reprints of important collections as they appeared in … Continue reading Langston Hughes, The Weary Blues

Gayl Jones, Corregidora

Corregidora by Gayl Jones My rating: 4 of 5 stars The cover of this edition makes it look like a horror movie—and that's not at all wrong. An intense novel, terse as a modern lyric, a monologue organized around its central image: the three generations of women in the house, telling over and over to … Continue reading Gayl Jones, Corregidora