On the Loose
To compensate for this structural flaw, I went to Athens and had the adventure I wanted to have. Then I nipped back to Rome, found a seedy pensione and holed up there until he arrived. For two days I lived on peaches and pasta and read James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room.
Baldwin’s famous novel was published in 1956 when he was becoming not only America’s foremost black homosexual writer but also a spokesman for the Civil Rights Movement. Baldwin outspokenly held white America accountable for the racism poisoning its society. He insisted that, because whites could not love themselves, they could not love their black brothers and sisters, and that they paid for their persecution ‘by the lives they led’. Yet Giovanni’s Room contains not a single black character. It is as if Baldwin is writing above race and gender in order to draw universal conclusions. The boldness of the enterprise still astonishes me.