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Going to Meet the Man

4.31  ·  Rating Details ·  2,848 Ratings  ·  196 Reviews
"There's no way not to suffer. But you try all kinds of ways to keep from drowning in it." The men and women in these eight short fictions grasp this truth on an elemental level, and their stories, as told by James Baldwin, detail the ingenious and often desperate ways in which they try to keep their head above water. It may be the heroin that a down-and-out jazz pianist u ...more
Paperback, First Vintage International, 249 pages
Published April 25th 1995 by Vintage Books a division of Random House (first published 1965)
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James Baldwin. James fucking Baldwin.
Love of my life. Master of prose. Destroyer of my heart.
Perfectly incredible selection of short stories that ripped me to pieces. Devastating and wonderful.
Goddammit, my love for Baldwin has only increased. What a perfect way to start 2015's reading.
Aug 08, 2015 Mariel rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: seeming to see nothing
Recommended to Mariel by: when she was singing before
All they really knew were two darknesses, the darkness of their lives, which was now closing in on them, and the darkness of the movies, which had blinded them to that other darkness, and in which they now, vindictively dreamed, at once more together than they were at any other time, and more alone.
from 'Sonny's Blues'

I've been having that feeling of "I wish this guy was seeing what I see and we could compare notes" about James Baldwin. I'd read The Fire Next Time and Giovanni's Room already bu
Jan 13, 2016 Sofia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

If you look through my notes below, you might decide that it is better to stay safe and not read this scary, sad piece of life. Well the choice is yours of course, whether to choose to see, to taste a bit, to let the stories touch you and make you feel, to think, or you can stay safely away.
"The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions which have been hidden by the answers." — James A. Baldwin

The Rockpile The contrast between staying safe, innocent upstairs and living, hurting, laughing, s
Richard Vialet
I was slightly disappointed with the first novel I read by the late great James Baldwin, Giovanni's Room. Although I found it difficult to empathize with the main character (who I found to be a little whiny and spoiled), I was really taken by how beautiful Baldwin's writing was. It was enough to keep me interested in reading more of his work and I'm glad I chose this book as the next one. This solid collection of 8 short stories is a great primer to his writing style and the themes that permeate ...more
Jan 14, 2015 Cindy rated it it was amazing
Everytime I read one of these short stories, in particular 'Going to meet the man', I found my jaw dropping open in amazement: the detail, the horror of human nature, Baldwin's ability and humanity through it all...completely awe-inspiring.
Clara Biesel
Feb 06, 2016 Clara Biesel rated it really liked it
I don't always love short stories, but dear goodness, these are magnificent. And brutal. And so easy enter into, even if the scenarios are wretched, even if you think "I can't imagine feeling that way" you listen for ten more minutes and find yourself thinking "of course he feels that way. How could he not?" Going to Meet the Man (the final story in the collection) is a graphic depiction of a lynching, as seen from a the eyes of a white child, but I think my favorite story was of a musician who ...more
Bobby Bermea
Jan 31, 2016 Bobby Bermea rated it it was amazing
"Then it was over. Creole and Sonny let out their breath, both soaking wet, and grinning. There was a lot of applause and some of it was real. In the dark, the girl came by and I asked her to take drinks to the bandstand. There was a long pause, while they talked up there in the indigo light and after a while I saw the girl put a scotch and milk on top of the piano for Sonny. He didn't seem to notice it, but just before they started playing again, he sipped from it and looked toward me, and nodd ...more
Maughn Gregory
Oct 29, 2012 Maughn Gregory rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This week one of my African-American students, 19 years old, told the class he is a racist. When I asked him to explain he only said, "Well, everyone's racist." I first started reading James Baldwin many years ago, before I understood and acknowledged the truth of what my student said. I loved his writing but didn't know what to do with his rage. Today, with my consciousness somewhat raised, I find Baldwin just as compelling and even more troubling. All of these stories were painful to read and ...more
May 16, 2011 Daniel rated it really liked it
Amazing; my first exposure to James Baldwin was in my Modern American Literature class. The short story "Going to Meet the Man" lured me in, I resolved to read this whole book when I got the chance. It is a collection of several short stories by Baldwin, dissecting the ideas of love, hate, life, death, sexuality and race with his persistently poignant prose. The way he treats the subject of death is unlike any author I have encountered. The death of a child in both "The Man-Child" and "Sonny's B ...more
Jul 18, 2016 Chris rated it it was amazing
Part of me wishes that I had read all of the Baldwin books years ago so that I could be rereading them now. Most of me recognizes that now is a fairly perfect intersection between my readiness for Baldwin and Baldwin's forever increasing relevance. His work seems more vital and more alive and more necessary this summer than any other work I have ever known.

I have yet to read a word of his work that I do not hope to reread many times over. "Sonny's Blues" is my favorite short story ever, and the
These eight short stories will leave you hungry for more writing my Baldwin. They are all powerful and each one a different perspective on the issue of race in America. Not beating a dead horse by any means they allow the reader to view first hand through the eyes of man, woman, child, black and white, what racial apartheid / hatred / apathy does to the doer, the recipient and the indifferent. Each story leaves an impression upon the psyche. Some more than others. Worth reading more than once.

Jun 16, 2014 Joanne rated it it was amazing
what can i say, i love "sonny's blues" too. the rest of his writing appeals to me, but not as much. i have a really bad memory but i can still remember reading sonny's blues for the first time. that image of him playing the piano at the end and the "very cup of trembling" they might as well be etched into my brain matter. they've stuck with me for ten years, and i'll continue to be influenced by that story.
Jabiz Raisdana
Dec 23, 2014 Jabiz Raisdana rated it it was amazing
Baldwin is a master. I wish each of these short stories was a full novel that never ended. I could read his words forever and not get tried. His characters are all wounded, dark, and suffering just the way I like, but they are also filled with joy and hope and in search of a better world. Again, not really for younger readers, but read Baldwin when you are in IB or Uni, you will love it.
Jeppe  Lauridsen
Nov 29, 2015 Jeppe Lauridsen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I've never felt the need to review a book on Goodreads before, but this book needs praise, and, more importantly, it needs attention.

After having read Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, I was, despite the gloomy descriptions of black male life, uplifted. I never thought one could write such redeeming and beautiful prose on such an ugly and political topic. Naturally, I started looking at Coates' inspiration for writing this book, and who people compared him to. This very swiftly led
Apr 19, 2015 Larry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply an outstanding short story collection. Story after story, I kept saying to myself, "Oh, yes, that's very, very true! I never thought of it that way before!" Even the single story that I thought was bordering on mundane, by my standards, had those very same "Ah, hah!" moments. But as good as everything before it was, nothing quite prepares you for the power of the collection's title story, "Going to Meet the Man". If all the stories before it were like a friend gently poking their finger o ...more
David Hollingsworth
Feb 26, 2015 David Hollingsworth rated it it was amazing
James Baldwin's short story collection is one of the most beautifully written, profound collections of short stories I've ever read. To me, Baldwin's greatest talent is his ability to balance societal issues (racism, homophobia, poverty, etc) and personal issues in each short story, as well as show the connection between the two. Many people who write about serious socio-political issues in their fiction have characters that are only (or mostly) defined in the story by their relation to that iss ...more
Jan 05, 2015 Lois rated it it was amazing
James Baldwin writes with such insight and beautiful description. I particularly noticed his careful attention to sound and music in these stories. We can see echoes of Baldwin's life in the stories, but Baldwin branches out to explore the points of view of many characters, some of whom are grossly unsympathetic (like the sheriff torturer in a small Southern community), but all of whom are very much human and not presented as caricatures. Baldwin often takes the point of view of a woman, and he ...more
Dec 18, 2014 Andrea rated it it was amazing
Wow. James Baldwin is an absolute master. I've read and taught "Sonny's Blues," so many times over the years, but this is the first time I've read this entire collection, and it just devastated me in that way only the best fiction and writing can do. He writes from so many different POVs and perspectives, from the perspective of young kids, with two stories following the same two kids, as the older of the two, and the only one from the mothers pre-married life, endures the hate of his step-fathe ...more
Mar 24, 2015 Leah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in black culture
Recommended to Leah by: My University Reading List
A truly emotional read that presents the racism of America in the early part of the 20th century. Written in different points of view and different story lines; each part is a captivating read.

I actually read this whilst away on holiday, and then on the train home I read the last book. Whilst i was reading, I was very conscious of the woman next to me. She was of African origin and the word 'nigger' kept popping up every 5 or so lines! I was concerned that she would feel I was some racist youth,
Aug 11, 2009 tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature, sociology
Whew! I've put off reading Baldwin - having 1st heard of him as much as 35+ yrs ago. This was everything I expected it to be.. & more. I was expecting devastating looks at American racism & that was certainly there - esp in the sickening title story. But there's much, much more. The sensitiveness of the language is on a par w/ Nabokov. There were so many points that I cd relate to. Baldwin articulates everything in such a clear-headed way - he makes the characters so easy to feel - even ...more
Kate Walker
Aug 27, 2008 Kate Walker rated it it was amazing
These stories were very haunting. Often an unexpected dimension is revealed toward the end of the story or in an unexpected place in the middle which lends the stories a sometimes spooky feel. The first story reminded me of a Flannery O'Connor. A number of the stories portrayed relationships on the margin... age and race differences, young gay relationships and extra-marital relationships. A relationship about to break up told from the point of view of the woman expecting to get dumped by her bo ...more
Sep 23, 2016 Alliyah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Baldwin is a complex experience. I end this collection of stories wth feelings of disgust, bitterness, anger, loss, love, and in complete awe of Baldwin. The master of deeply confusing and traumatic prose. No one writes of complex emotions better than Baldwin. The way he breaks each characters thought processes apart is incredible. He was himself a highly conflicted and complex man as is evident in his stories. But if his fiction is anything to go by he was also deeply capable of loving ...more
Anna Domestico
Oct 22, 2015 Anna Domestico rated it it was amazing
This book hit me right where I felt it, causing me to feel sick to my stomach and simultaneously astounded at Baldwin's writing style. He writes honestly, openly. His characters are not -reliable- per se. However, they don't have much to hide. They seem open and honest... perhaps dwelling too far into their dark, psychological depths. Baldwin challenges the reader to acknowledge the "dirty" bits of human existence. He forces the reader to look directly at acts of sexual and racial violence. You ...more
What can I say except, "Wow"! This was an exceptionally written book of short stories that gives the reader a vivid view of the negative side of humanity. My favorite stories were 'The Man Child' and 'Going To Meet the Man'. The latter was superbly written with such intense detail, that at some points it was a bit difficult to read. However, it really gives the reader an intense look at the evils of the mistreatment of African Americans, particularly the men. James Baldwin, once again, shows the ...more
Sep 10, 2016 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
loved it. from sonny's blues, my favorite:

"All I know about music is that not many people ever really hear it. And even then, on the rare occasions when something opens within, and the music enters, what we mainly hear, or hear corroborated, are personal, private, vanishing evocations. But the man who creates the music is hearing something else, is dealing with the roar rising from the void and imposing order on it as it hits the air. What is evoked in him, then, is of another order, more terri
Liza Fireman
Jul 05, 2016 Liza Fireman rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-from-shelf
It is impossible for me to recommend a collection of short stories when only two of them are actually worth reading. The rest are just pretty normal glance into someone's life type of stories. It is unfortunate, because Baldwin knows how to write, but these stories just don't fly.
Short stories in general are a tough genre, and my favorite are Alice Munro and Anton Chekhov. So many others just don't work for me, many are too grim, violent, crazy, many stories that try to shake up the readers.

Dec 04, 2007 alex rated it really liked it
i would not recommend finishing this book in a public setting.
Jun 01, 2016 Rashaun rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: writers, teachers and story lovers
Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin is his collection of eight short stories. More so this collection is telling of the writer he was a writer who uses words like a surgeon.
Coming into this collection I had heard the excitement critics and readers alike had about James Baldwin. But now I can say I understand. In each story, the reader feels like he or she is part of it. And it doesn’t matter if the story is written in the first person like Previous Condition, Sonny’s Blues and This Morning,
Dec 10, 2015 Sophie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
"They stood in the doorway, staring, while the steps reached the landing below and began again climbing to their floor. "No," said Elizabeth then, "that ain't her walk. That's Gabriel."

"Lorraine and Mrs. Jackson met Johnnie's mother for the first time as she breathlessly came on board, dressed in the airy and unreal blue which Johnnie would forever associate with his furthest memories of her."

"The tremendous bolts of steel seemed almost human, imbued with a relentless force that was not human."

Mar 15, 2015 Marcos rated it it was amazing
What an magnificent and harrowing collection. The Man Child is an indictment of the vicious cycle that sharecroppers often faced when trying to find the cash to buy their land, but end up in debt, with tragic results ending with the murder of an innocent boy; Going to Meet the Man is a horrifying account of a racist sheriff, about to have sex with his wife, reminisces when his parents took him to see a live lynching of a black man, his testicles ripped off of him; Come out in the Wilderness is a ...more
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Going to Meet the Man - BR Maya & Sofia 9th Jan 2016 61 7 Jan 13, 2016 12:24PM  
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

James Arthur Baldwin was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic.

James Baldwin offered a vital literary voice during the era of civil rights activism in the 1950s and '60s. The eldest of nine children, his stepfather was a minister. At age 14, Bal
More about James Baldwin...

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“After departure, only invisible things are left, perhaps the life of the world is held together by invisible chains of memory and loss and love. So many things, so many people, depart! And we can only repossess them in our minds.” 20 likes
“Secrets hidden at the heart of midnight are simply waiting to be dragged to the light, as, on some unlucky high noon, they always are. But secrets shrouded in the glare of candor are bound to defeat even the most determined and agile inspector for the light is always changing and proves that the eye cannot be trusted.” 10 likes
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