If Beale Street Could Talk by James BaldwinIn this honest and stunning novel, James Baldwin has given America a moving story of love in the face of injustice. Told through the eyes of Tish, a nineteen-year-old girl, in love with Fonny, a young sculptor who is the father of her child, Baldwins story mixes the sweet and the sad. Tish and Fonny have pledged to get married, but Fonny is falsely accused of a terrible crime and imprisoned. Their families set out to clear his name, and as they face an uncertain future, the young lovers experience a kaleidoscope of emotions-affection, despair, and hope. In a love story that evokes the blues, where passion and sadness are inevitably intertwined, Baldwin has created two characters so alive and profoundly realized that they are unforgettably ingrained in the American psyche.
'If Beale Street Could Talk' Stars on How the Film Parallels 2018 America - NowThis
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The movie also offers viewers a chance to reflect on the work of an author who is as indispensable today as he was in his own lifetime. In particular, the novel marked a crucial turn in how the author sought to characterize the most abiding theme and moral principle of his work: love. If Beale Street Could Talk received mixed reviews on publication. By contrast, the author had spent the previous decade instead writing and thinking about love as a collective American experience, one whose power came from the fact that it could cut across racial lines. In these civil-rights-era works, Baldwin was keen on interrogating white power and championing love to realize the full promise of America.
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Although we are not monolithic in thought, we are all beholden to the issues Baldwin interrogated and challenged with the words he spoke and wrote, issues like racism, injustice and so on. History at large is written by the victors, but Black history is protected and passed on by our storytellers, the folks—famous and not—whose life lessons filled in the blanks for what was so often missing from, or corrupted by, the general narrative. The lovers at the heart of this story are technically staring at each other—and by extension, at us—with a devotion that is as tactile as the image itself. Like all love stories, this one occasionally takes fluttery flight, triggered by the gentlest and most subtle of gestures and emotions. This realism is rendered in such matter-of-fact fashion that it becomes smoothly woven into the narrative without artifice. The first words we see are by Baldwin, as are the first words we hear.