by James Baldwin
Again, Baldwin has written a brilliant, impassioned, philosophical and brutal novel of life stripped down to its harsh realities: race, gender, lust, sex, love. To begin with, Baldwin breaks all the rules by introducing the reader to Rufus, makes the reader care about him, and then kills Rufus off. The next 280 pages describe the aftermath of this loss in Rufus' circle of friends; but he's not the center of the world, far from it, and other shattering and life-affirming events happen to the characters that have nothing to do with Rufus. Still, his presence is felt in all their stories. In some ways this novel was very hard to read. Some of Baldwin's observations on love, giving, taking and needing are so unbearably accurate that they can't help but evince strong emotion. A complex and immensely powerful novel.