This is a biography of James Baldwin, author, one-time preacher and civil rights activist. He chose David Leeming, a close friend and colleague, to write his biography and granted him access to his correspondence. Leeming traces his life from his birth in Harlem in 1924, his self-imposed exile in Europe, his later years as political activist to his public funeral in 1987.
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David Leeming, emeritus professor of English at the University of Connecticut, was a friend of James Baldwin for twenty-five years as well as his assistant from 1963 to 1967. He is also the author of several works on world mythology, including The World of Myth: An Anthology and Medusa: In the Mirror of Time. He lives in Rhinebeck, New York.
This fourth life of writer James Baldwin won't give a bad name to authorized biographies, but neither will it elevate the suspect genre to new heights. Leeming (English/Univ. of Connecticut) met Baldwin in 1961. By then, Baldwin was perhaps the best-known and most widely read living black writer in the United States. Their meeting place was Istanbul, where Leeming was teaching and Baldwin was visiting a friend. Although Leeming's presence in this biography is minimal- -even in the Turkish chapters--his professional and social relationship with Baldwin grew rapidly. He was designated authorized biographer and granted access to Baldwin's private papers in 1977, ten years before Baldwin's death at 63. Throughout the text, Leeming seems to struggle with his official status; he slips into the various roles of friend, sycophant, defender, and personal secretary. The alternate references to ``Jimmy'' and the more formal ``Baldwin'' give the book a split personality. Despite this schizophrenic tone, this biography has value as a life chronicle. After all, Leeming saw and heard a great deal that previous Baldwin biographers had no opportunity to see or hear. Leeming deals extensively with Baldwin's precarious (and shifting) place on the racial divide, with his homosexuality, and with the mental instability that led to suicide attempts. Leeming does a workmanlike job of portraying Baldwin's Harlem childhood, the writing of the early books, Go Tell It on the Mountain and Giovanni's Room (among others), the search across the world for a country to call home, and much more. The book is rich in detail but not overly long. Baldwin's life was so inherently fascinating that only a hack could make it dull. Leeming is no hack. But, despite Baldwin's labeling of Leeming as ``my Boswell,'' the biographer is clearly not that, either. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description Penguin Putnam~trade, 1995. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110140240993
Book Description Penguin Putnam~trade. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0140240993 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW6.0060770
Book Description Penguin Putnam~trade 1995-05-25, 1995. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 0140240993 We guarantee all of our items - customer service and satisfaction are our top priorities. Please allow 4 - 14 business days for Standard shipping, within the US. Bookseller Inventory # TM-0140240993