tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE's Reviews > Blind Man with a Pistol

Blind Man with a Pistol by Chester Himes
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bookshelves: mysteries

I shd really create a bkshelf called "crime fiction" & get rid of "mysteries" since most of what I call "mysteries" here are more appropriately called the former. That's the case here. Himes is yet-another author I've known about for a long time w/o ever having gotten around to reading until now. This bk is copyrighted 1969 & reading it falls conveniently on the heels of my listening to a record of an Eldridge Cleaver speech at Syracuse Univ in 1968. Why convenient? B/c Cleaver was a black radical in his prime in 1968 & Himes' bk has as its main background black social unrest & rioting around the same time.

The foreword:

""Motherfucking right, it's confusing; it's a gas, baby, you dig."

A Harlem intellectual"

Cleaver's record is called "Dig" & in his speech he explains the use of "motherfucker". &, yes, I'd call Cleaver an intellectual too.

ANYWAY, I'd almost rank Himes w/ Hammett & Chandler as a crime fiction writer but I want to read more by him before I go that far. This was a good start for me. Himes' preface explains the title of the bk:

"A friend of mine, Phil Lomax, told me this story about a blind man with a pistol shooting at a man who slapped him on a subway train and killing an innocent bystander [..:] and thought further that all unorganized violence is like a blind man with a pistol."

Himes' bk is a collection of portraits in Harlem, NYC. It's tied together by the 2 main characters, 2 black police detectives, trying to solve crimes that the reader is privy to the solution of but that the detectives are prevented from learning much about. & Himes uses this context as a way of introducing social commentary - esp from the detectives mouths when they talk w/ their lieutenant:

""All right, all right! I take it you know who started the riot."

"Some folks call him by one name, some another," Coffin Ed said.

"Some call him lack of respect for law and order, some lack of opportunity, some the teachings of the Bible, some the sins of their fathers," Grave Digger expounded. "Some call him ignorance, some poverty, some rebellion. Me and Ed look at him with compassion. We're victims."

"Victims of what?" Anderson asked foolishly.

"Victims of your skin," Coffin Ed shouted brutally"

At any rate, Himes is hardly an oversimplifier - he casts a cynical eye on almost all he sees - but I'd have to say it's mostly a fair one.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
August 15, 2010 – Shelved
August 15, 2010 – Shelved as: mysteries
August 15, 2010 – Finished Reading

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