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If Beale Street Could Talk (4 parts)

  • 9 months ago

    If Beale Street Could Talk, by James Baldwin (part 1) Information-grey

    for YORAN

    Mary, Mary,
    What you going to name
    That pretty little baby?

    ONE: Troubled About My Soul

    I look at myself in the mirror. I know that I was christened Clementine, and so it would make sense if people called me Clem, or even, come to think of it, Clementine, since that’s my name: but they don’t. People call me Tish. I guess that makes sense, too. I’m tired, and I’m beginning to think that maybe everything that happens makes sense. Like, if it didn’t make sense, how could it happen? But that’s really a terrible thought. It can only come out of trouble – trouble that doesn’t make sense.


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  • 9 months ago

    If Beale Street Could Talk, by James Baldwin (part 2) Information-grey

    When the doorbell rang, it was Ernestine who went to the door, and Mrs. Hunt who entered first. She was dressed in something which looked very stylish until you looked at it. It was brown, it was shiny, it made one think of satin; and it had somehow white lace fringes at the knees, I think, and the elbows, and – I think – at the waist; and she was wearing a kind of scoop hat, an up­side down coal scuttle, which hardened her hard brow.

    She was wearing heels, she was gaining weight. She was fighting it, not successfully. She was frightened: in spite of the power of the Holy Ghost. She entered smiling, not quite knowing at what, or at whom, being juggled, so to speak, between the scrutiny of the Holy Ghost and her un­steady recollection of her mirror. And something in the way that she walked in and held out her hand, something in that smile of hers, which begged for mercy at the same time that it could not give it, made her quite wonderful for me. She was a woman I had never seen before. Fonny had been in her belly. She had carried him.


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  • 9 months ago

    If Beale Street Could Talk, by James Baldwin (part 3) Information-grey

    On the Tuesday after the Monday that I saw Hayward, I saw Fonny at the six o’clock visit. I had never seen him so upset before.

    “What the fuck we going to do about Mrs. Rogers? Where the fuck did she go?”

    “I don’t know. But we’ll find her.”

    “How you going to find her?”

    “We’re sending people to Puerto Rico. We think that’s where she went.”

    “And suppose she went to Argentina? or Chile? or China?”

    “Fonny. Please. How’s she going to get that far?”


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  • 9 months ago

    If Beale Street Could Talk, by James Baldwin (part 4) Information-grey

    And the baby starts kicking, waking me up at night. Now that Mama is in Puerto Rico, it is Er­nestine and Joseph who keep watch over me. I am afraid to quit my job, because I know we need the money. This means that I very often miss the six o’clock visit.

    It seems to me that if I quit my job, I’ll be making the six o’clock visit forever. I explain this to Fonny, and he says he understands, and, in fact, he does. But understanding doesn’t help him at six o’clock. No matter what you understand, you can’t help waiting: for your name to be called, to be taken from your cell and led downstairs. If you have visitors, or even if you have only one visi­tor, but that visitor is constant, it means that someone outside cares about you. And this can get you through the night, into the day. No matter what you may understand, and really understand, and no matter what you may tell yourself, if no one comes to see you, you are in very bad trouble. And trouble, here, means danger.


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“NowComment” and “Turning Documents into Conversations” are registered trademarks of Paul Allison. All rights reserved.

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