RE: RARA-AVIS: Re: Street Lit

From: John Williams (
Date: 30 Jun 2005

Well... yeah. In my defense, I didn't add Himes because of the color of his skin, but because of the world he described (and embellished), the black experience in Harlem.

  No, fair enough, and apologies for the snippiness of my tone, Himes does write about life on the street - as does Nelson Algren, say. It's just that the bracketing of Himes - or Algren come to that - with Donald Goines - or Jack Henry Abbott - kind of annoys me, because it tends to imply that all that matters if you write about 'the street' is 'authenticity' (too often rendered simply as skin colour) rather than the ability to say something about the human condition. The two are not mutually exclusive, of course, but there's no automatic equivalence either.

  Mr T - if you're going to read some Himes, can I recommend The End Of A Primitive (most definitely a novel of the human condition rather than the street)or If He Hollers Let Him Go - these seem to me to be the real substance of the work, excellent though the Harlem domestic series are in their own way.


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