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Explorations Read-Aloud: “Another Country” by James Baldwin

Friday, March 15 @ 11:00 am 12:00 pm

Every Friday, at 11:00 am, on the library’s YouTube Channel and Facebook Page, the library will stream a brand new recording of local thespian, Joseph Coté reading aloud selections from a wide variety of fascinating and entertaining books of fiction and non-fiction.

For March 15, Coté will read aloud from James Baldwin’s novel Another Country.

Summary:  Baldwin’s controversial 1962 novel is primarily set in Greenwich Village, Harlem, and Paris in the late 1950s

The first fifth of Another Country tells of the downfall of jazz drummer Rufus Scott in Greenwich Village. He begins a relationship with Leona, a white woman from the South, and introduces her to his social circle, including his closest friend, struggling novelist Vivaldo, his more successful mentor Richard, and Richard’s wife, Cass.

Initially, the relationship is frivolous, but it turns more serious as they continue to live together. Rufus becomes habitually physically abusive of Leona, and she is admitted to a mental hospital in the South. Depressed, Rufus returns to Harlem and commits suicide, jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

The rest of the book explores relationships between Rufus’ friends, family, and acquaintances in the wake of his death. Rufus’s friends cannot understand the suicide, and experience some guilt over his death. Afterwards, they become closer. Vivaldo begins a relationship with Rufus’s sister Ida, which is strained by racial tension and Ida’s bitterness after her brother’s death.

Eric, an actor and Rufus’ first male lover, returns to New York after years living in France, where he met his longtime lover Yves. Eric returns to the novel’s social circle but is calmer and more composed than most of the group.

Everyone’s relationships become strained in the course of the novel. Ida starts having an affair with Ellis, an advertising executive who promises to help with her career as a singer. Cass, who has become lonely due to Richard’s writing career, has an affair with Eric after he arrives in New York. At the novel’s climax, Cass tells Richard about her affair with Eric, who in turn has a sexual encounter with Vivaldo, who himself learns about Ida’s relationship with Ellis. The book explores the themes of nationalism, race, love, willing ignorance, professional jealousy and black homosexual masculinity.

Click the links to find the library’s YouTube Channel and Facebook Page.

Thoughts to share? Book ideas to suggest?
Contact Joseph at friday-explorations@usa.net

55 Main Street
Camden, ME 04843 United States