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Going to Meet the Man

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  4,777 ratings  ·  411 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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Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american, favourites
No Surrender

Whenever I’m in danger of feeling smugly self-satisfied or, on alternate days, resentfully dissatisfied about my place in the world, James Baldwin is always on hand as a corrective. His prose is hypnotic as it allows entry into the lives of people one does not know. His minimalist descriptions are perfect in their evocation of a timeless space. The relationships he characterizes are simply true; one can feel oneself part of them. And the real condition of being alive in the world is
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.
Jun 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
As a whole, this collection of eight stories is well-crafted and insightful. Some of the stories are too wordy in parts; the one with a female protagonist (‘Come Out the Wilderness’) rather unmemorable.

Anyone who has read Go Tell It on the Mountain will recognize the characters in the first two stories. ‘The Rockpile’ is tense in its conciseness as the family waits for the father to arrive home; ‘The Outing’ felt a bit lengthy with its church service aboard a ferryboat, but was intriguing with t
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
Daniel Chaikin
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
From my Litsy post: There‘s a long path of Baldwin‘s life in this short story collection, capped, easily, by the magnificent Sonny‘s Blues. Baldwin does some lovely, beautiful gently-created characters and tears them up. The last story, the title story on going to see a lynching, hovers over everything else. These stories are about racism even when they‘re not.


40. Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin
published: 1965
format: 193 pages inside Early N
Aug 08, 2015 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
Jul 24, 2015 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, si
robin friedman
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Reading Baldwin's Stories

I read Baldwin's 1965 collection of short stories, "Going to Meet the Man" after reading his first novel, "Go Tell it on the Mountain". Baldwin (1924 -- 1987) wrote in searing terms about the African American experience and about racial injustice. These stories and the early novel have a feel of individuality, passion and personal experience that to me are more basic than their depictions of American racism.

The book includes eight early stories which explore and attempt
Bobby Bermea
"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
Jun 01, 2007 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.
Completed September 2014, my first book by James Baldwin, but not my last!
Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
quick thoughts: story collections are typically tough to rate. some stories move you more than others; and a couple stay with you long after the last page is turned. in this collection, all the stories have a tone that is somber and reflective. I found some of them to be more fleshed out than others, and a few stories came to an abrupt and mystifying conclusion. My favorite, though, was Sonny's Blues, a story of a man's fragile relationship with his younger brother who is a musician and a recove ...more
Maughn Gregory
Jan 22, 2011 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
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I know everybody's in trouble and nothing is easy, but how can I explain to you what it feels like to be black when I don't understand it and don't want to and spend all my time trying to forget it?

Οι πρωταγωνιστές κι οι πρωταγωνίστριες των 8 μικρών ιστοριών προσπαθούν με πολυμήχανους κι απελπισμένους τρόπους να κρατηθούν στην επιφάνεια, αποτυγχάνουν κι όμως αγωνίζονται.
This was my first introduction to Baldwin's shorter fiction, and it makes me wonder why it's not better-known. These are brief, powerful things that stand alongside his best novels and essays, and as in all of his writing, Baldwin manages to write very universal stories while never forgetting his own viewpoint. Even when he writes a character whose experience is fairly remote from his own, there's still the man's indelible stamp. As an added note, he can sure as hell write white characters a lot ...more
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.

Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I took quite a bit of time out on this one. The first two stories really didn't do a lot for me and I almost dropped it. I'm glad I didn't! Reading the remaining stories there was one that didn't work for me. However the remainder were at worst hauntingly powerful - the best were possibly horrifyingly powerful. The writing is outstanding. The scenes/themes were stunningly portrayed. Going to Meet the Man itself was a very tough read - don't think I've read anything quite like that before and cer ...more
May 13, 2011 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
Clara Biesel
Dec 29, 2015 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
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are 8 short stories in this collection that was first published in 1965. The stories are very good. The concern much more than race relations. Characters come to live and you can feel their pain and their struggles.

THE ROCKPILE and THE OUTING involve the same family a few years apart. In the first story, the family consists of Father, Mother, baby, son Roy, and son John. John is the oldest and Father is his step-father. Roy goes out when he is not supposed to and gets hurt. Father punishes
Jeppe  Lauridsen
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
I just love Baldwin's writing, and I received a couple of recommendations for his short story "Sonny's Blues", which is contained in this collection. I read the first 5 stories, and I found it to be a very strong collection, but, as is often the case with Baldwin's work, it was painfully sad as well. I had to take a break after 5 stories, but hopefully I can read the final 3 at some future point when my emotional batteries are restored...

The Rockpile - 4 stars - wonderful slice of life and famil
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
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
Sep 23, 2016 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
Nov 12, 2007 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.
Asim Qureshi
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is a constantly hypnotic quality to James Baldwin’s writing that draws you into the worlds he creates.

This book is a collection of short stories, but it’s really the final one I want to focus on ‘Going to meet the man’. I want to think about it because it reminded me so clearly of what Judith Herman teaches us, that when it comes to trauma, perpetrators are sometimes survivors turned perpetrators: “Repetition is the mute language of the abused child.”


The sexual dysfunction
Mar 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
A few years ago I was assigned a handful of these short stories for an African-American lit course (taught by a white man, naturally) and I really liked them, but my intention to read the whole collection fell away with other coursework.

I'm happy to have finally read the entire collection now, and I was right to not read it in the middle of the semester--these are stories that are meant to be taken in slowly and savored. (Rushing through them between classes would not have done Baldwin's work j
Sharon Robinson
These stories will tear your heart out. This is probably the best book I have ever read. I don't cry easily, but I cried at the pure beauty of Sonny's Blues and the pure horror of Going to Meet the Man. Baldwin's writing gave me a much better insight into current race-relations issues than any of the non-fiction recommended reading. Every American should read this book. Period.
Jun 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
James Baldwin is a great writer. It is precisely because he is a great writer that I found this book so difficult to read.

Each short story in this collection is impactful; both because of his writing and the subject matter. It was a difficult read because of the injustice, anger and helplessness I felt while reading about the damage inflicted on the characters in his stories. I tried to remind myself that these were fictional stories about the lives of made up people. I was trying to comfort my
Darryl Suite
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"But I can’t forget--where I’ve been. I don’t mean just the physical place I’ve been, I mean where I’ve been. And what I’ve been.”
I’ve decided to focus on 2 stories from this startling short story collection.

Realness: “Sonny’s Blues” is my favorite short story of all time. It’s his best writing (Accept it, and don’t fight me on this). Maybe because the story uses the heady love of music as the arc of the story, I was destined to be starstruck. The final section, alone, is just as thrillingly s
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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. He was the eldest of nine children; his stepfather was a minister. At age

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