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Going to Meet the Man

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  3,979 ratings  ·  321 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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4.34  · 
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 ·  3,979 ratings  ·  321 reviews


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BlackOxford
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
...more
Lydia
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.
Teresa
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
...more
Richard
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
Mariel
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
...more
Sofia
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
...more
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
Sophie
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.
Cindy
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.
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
Joe
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.

...more
LindaJ^
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
...more
Daniel
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
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
...more
Chris
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
...more
Aaliyah
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
Joanne
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.”

SPOILER ALERT 🚨

The sexual dysfunction
...more
Dea
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
...more
Jessica
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Baldwin does this thing in this collection of stories (the titular story excluded) where he leaves you wanting so much more out of the lives of these characters. I especially felt that with Sonny's Blues; This Morning, This Evening, So Soon; and Come Out the Wilderness. He could have expanded each of those stories into whole novels and I would have readily devoured them. The characters are wholly and simply human, complicated in just the right fashion to let you know that you can go out into the ...more
Babydoll
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
Jabiz Raisdana
Dec 20, 2014 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.
Basma
Jun 07, 2017 rated it did not like it
I wasn't able to connect with the writing style in these stories. Some stories I felt ended abruptly that I didn't understand what was going on. I jumped between the stories and did not read them in order, and some of the stories I stopped after a few pages and went to the next one.
Sheila
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Heartbreaking, beautiful soul-stirring- Baldwin gets me every time...
David Hollingsworth
Feb 04, 2015 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
tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE
Aug 11, 2009 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
AJ (Andrea) Nolan
Dec 18, 2014 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
Michael
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
...more
Larry
Mar 29, 2015 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
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Going to Meet the Man - BR Maya & Sofia 9th Jan 2016 61 8 Jan 13, 2016 12:24PM  

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James^Baldwin

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 mini
...more
“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.” 25 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.” 11 likes
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