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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Monday, 4 November 2013

"Giovanni's room" by James Baldwin

David, an American in Paris, falls for Giovanni, a beautiful barman from Italy. Their affair is doomed because of David's guilt about his sexuality; when his girlfriend returns from a trip to Spain David leaves Giovanni. But Giovanni has fallen in love...

An incredibly powerful novella about love and betrayal. We know from almost the start that Giovanni is soon to be executed for murder. The story is told by a lonely and guilty David. David wallows in guilt: he feels guilty for betraying his first boyfriend; he feels guilty about the fact that he is gay. He hates the "disgusting fairies" in the bars that he relentlessly haunts. He hates the meaningless and loveless couplings in which he indulges, with either gender; he hates his own genitals. He is unable to bring himself, even in this retrospective, to see clearly the sexual acts in which he participates: it is difficult to be sure who does what to whom. But against this background of disgust and self-disgust and guilt and hate there is the shining love that Giovanni has for him and that he would have, if he let himself, for Giovanni.

David and Jonathan. Jonathan died. There arte significant overtones of religion throughout this book.

I was also powerfully reminded of the innocent Donatello in Hawthorne's The Marble Faun: Giovanni could in many ways have been Donatello. He might also have reminded me of Gino in Forster's Where angels fear to tread.

This is almost a text book story. The prose is brilliant. The feelings of dread and shame and disgust and guilt pervade. The message is that only love can lift us above the gutter. November 2013; 150 pages.

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