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A DIALOGUE by James Baldwin


by James Baldwin & Nikki Giovanni

Pub Date: Aug. 20th, 1973
Publisher: Lippincott

A short and vacuous semi-revised transcription of a discussion between the young black poet and well-known novelist taped for U.S. television late in 1971. The dialogue is more apparent than real, as the participants struggle to get their own views across; Ms. Giovanni somewhat more accommodating of Baldwin than he is of her, showing more about their respective positions in the literary world than perhaps anything else. The subject is the role of blacks in the '70's, a rather amorphous topic; Baldwin leans on understanding the black man's machismo which masks as self-respect while Giovanni is more of the revolutionary impatient for change, talking about Women's Lib without mentioning it by name (too much a white phenomenon?) — not that Baldwin talks about his homosexuality either. One is left with the feeling of two sensitive and intelligent writers who respect and possibly like each other too much to get to the nitty-gritty of their feelings (Baldwin's rage at the emasculating black momma; Giovanni's at the jiving black hustler). Black solidarity triumphs over the kind of tough honesty that is necessary if this sort of encounter is to work.