Tell Me How Long the Train’s been Gone by James Baldwin
Baldwin, for me, is one of those writers who defines what their art is about. He is able to address a range of themes and emotions in a clear, unfussy style that makes his stories both a joy to behold and an experience to share. His characters live and breathe in ways to which we can all relate, and exist in worlds we recognise. It is this authenticity of description and experience that allows you to become so involved and invested in the stories and the journeys of his characters. That there is such a personal experience gained from – and a personal investment made in – stories created in another time and place is testament to Baldwin’s skill.
Throughout the book, humanity sings out from every page, paragraph and word. Any anger that is in the book – and there is a lot – comes from a place of love and faith (in humanity) and not from hate or despair. Characters are scarred and affected by their environments, sure, but they are also able, to various degrees, to attempt to take control and influence their own outcomes. This positive approach allows us to share in the anger that an unjust world provokes, but also infuses the reader with a positivity that we, you, I can change – and allow ourselves to be changed if we really care enough about the world we live in and our role within it.
Above all, you will be entertained and enjoy this book. On top of everything else, isn’t that reason enough to give this a try?