Kathleen Jowitt's Reviews > Giovanni's Room

Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin
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bookshelves: paris-bus

A short, devastating, book, which refuses to ignore its narrator's flaws even as he does his best to ignore some very significant things about himself.

Giovanni's Room is about a relationship which is doomed from the start, because what the two main characters need isn't something that they can give each other, and the environment that surrounds them is never going to let them. And we know from the start that it's doomed; it's a claustrophobic structure that mirrors the titular room. Neither of the two men is particularly pleasant, and they become less so as things go on. None of that makes it any less fascinating to watch things play out to their conclusion, to watch on, perhaps no more helpless to change things than David or Giovanni.

I loved the snapshot of Paris in the 1950s. (Paris bus content: an early morning shop as they leave Guillaume's bar in chapter 3; Hella mentions 'jumping off' buses in a letter; David gets onto a bus at the same time as a policeman, who stays on the platform while he sits inside.)

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Reading Progress

February 26, 2020 – Started Reading
February 26, 2020 – Finished Reading
February 28, 2020 – Shelved
February 28, 2020 – Shelved as: paris-bus

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