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Go the Way Your Blood Beats: An Anthology of Gay and Lesbian Literary Writings by African Americans

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Today's most distinguished writers and acclaimed new voices present extraordinary fiction on homosexuality in the lives of African Americans. Featuring America's long-celebrated authorsJames Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Richard Wright - as well as the works of a new generation of critically heralded writers, including Sapphire, Jacqueline Woodson, Charles Harvey, Go the Way Your Blood Beats brings together a family of literary fiction that examines Black lesbian and gay identity, from inside the closet and...
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Overview

Today's most distinguished writers and acclaimed new voices present extraordinary fiction on homosexuality in the lives of African Americans. Featuring America's long-celebrated authorsJames Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Richard Wright - as well as the works of a new generation of critically heralded writers, including Sapphire, Jacqueline Woodson, Charles Harvey, Go the Way Your Blood Beats brings together a family of literary fiction that examines Black lesbian and gay identity, from inside the closet and out. Through thirty-two stories, nearly half in print for the first time, writers from the Harlem Renaissance to the present examine such issues as homophobia, bisexuality, AIDS, cross-dressing, and accepting one's self.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a 1984 Village Voice interview, James Baldwin said, "The best advice I ever got was from an old friend of mine... who said you have to go the way your blood beats." As editor Ruff translates it, this means "live life instinctively, intuitively, with integrity and an awareness of consequences, and without self deception." Organized by themes, this rich array of short stories and novel excerpts ranges from thoroughly enjoyable conventional narrative like Harris's captivating chapter from Just As I Am about homophobia in black fraternities to accounts of personal liberation that border on magical realism such as Bruce Marrow's "Near the End of the World," about a young gay man who finds consolation for the loss of his gay father in the company of a half-crazy Smith alumna cum tattoo artist on the Venice boardwalk. In Becky Birtha's "Ice Castle," a young woman contends with her parents disapproval and her own bewildering infatuation with an underage upper-class white girl. In Gayl Jones's "The Women," a young girl recalls her mother's revolving door of lesbian lovers. Although many of the stories transcend color to strike universal chords, it is perhaps inevitable that the collection concentrates so much more on pain than on pleasure, self-knowledge or liberation. (Aug.)
Library Journal
It's all too easy to assume that being black and gay is incompatible. However, from the Harlem Renaissance to the Jazz Age on down, the images of black lesbians and gay men have been present, though sometimes hard to detect. This anthology cuts a wide swath through the literature to clear away the mists of obscurity, just as Afrekete (LJ 6/1/95) did for contemporary black lesbian writers when it was published in 1995). Written by the likes of James Baldwin, Alice Walker, Sapphire, Gloria Naylor, and Randall Kenan, the stories in this volume project a range of tonal qualities, almost as if they were musical compositions. This is a book to return to time and again. Highly recommended. [Introduction not seen.]Lisa S. Nussbaum, Euclid P. L., Ohio
Kirkus Reviews
A powerful, often grim gathering of fiction exploring with anger and vigor the struggles waged by those who are both black and homosexual to discover and preserve their identities. Ruff has produced a deft mix of familiar and less well-known voices: There are stories by James Baldwin ("The Outing") and Richard Wright ("Man of all Work"), and an excerpt from Toni Morrison's novel Song of Solomon, but there's also strong fiction by Becky Birtha ("Ice Castle"), Max Gordon ("Babylon"), and Jacqueline Woodson ("What Has Been Done to Me"). Although the themes of desire frustrated or realized weave through all of the pieces (and are explicitly celebrated in several, including Carolivia Herron's soaring "Epithalamion"), only a few (such as Samuel R. Delany's "The Place of Excrement") deal with physical particulars. Most are more focused on the ways in which the intersection of race and desire casts a bright and unforgiving light on American society. A useful collection, featuring some promising younger writers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805044379
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/28/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 544
  • Product dimensions: 5.55 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 1.56 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword
Acknowledgments
Introduction
The Women 3
The Outing 27
Meredith's Lie 53
What Has Been Done to Me 81
To Taste Fire Once More 88
Ice Castle 93
Near the End of the World 122
The Alternative 137
The Truth of the Matter 157
Run, Mourner, Run 177
There's a Window 201
Smoke, Lilies and Jade 205
The Statue of Liberty 222
The Place of Excrement 233
Bathesda of Sinners Run 263
Man of All Work 278
The Temple of My Familiar 316
Just Friends 325
Obi's Story 355
Asphalt 376
Infants of the Spring 394
Dissimulations 401
The Two 412
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name 437
Afro Jew Fro 445
Song of Solomon 457
Babylon 467
A Carnival Jangle 483
Just As I Am 487
Undressing Lady J. 501
Summertime, and the Living Is Easy ... 506
Epithalamion 517
Author Bios 537
Permissions 542
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