Tag Archives: James Baldwin

Great premium is placed on language in our literary culture today. Is it fresh? Is it witty? Does it dazzle? The question I wish reviewers and publishers would ask about language is “Is it true?” We need writers who name the vast diversities of our reality with language that illuminates rather than obscures. Truth, of course, is relative. But the truth I’m referring to isn’t singular or objective; it’s resonant, as full of mystery as fact. We’ve all had the experience of reading a passage that describes a familiar object or event in a way we’ve never considered but which feels absolutely right. Here are a few of my favorites: The rooks too were keeping one of their annual festivities; soaring round the tree tops until it looked as if a vast net with thousands of black knots in it had been cast up into the air; which, after a…

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