Published on September 8th, 2020 | by TLV News0
Crossroads Book Group: “Begin Again,” hosted by Eddie S. Glaude Jr. and Kiese Laymon
The Crossroads Book Group is a monthly Square Books-sponsored book discussion. This activity is an outgrowth of the broad concerns that emerged as a result of, among other things, the murder of George Floyd, and books selected for discussion will be to relevant to these concerns. The titles are selected by guest hosts who will exchange views, then open the floor for questions and comments. Any Square Books Constant Reader may participate.
The September meeting will be via Zoom on Tuesday, September 8 at 5:30 pm CST. You must RSVP to attend the event by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The hosts for September are Eddie S. Glaude Jr. and Kiese Laymon, who will be discussing Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie S. Glaude Jr. This title will be 15% off with the coupon code CROSSROADS.
We live, according to Eddie S. Glaude Jr., in a moment when the struggles of Black Lives Matter and the attempt to achieve a new America have been challenged by the election of Donald Trump, a president whose victory represents yet another failure of America to face the lies it tells itself about race. From Charlottesville to the policies of child separation at the border, his administration turned its back on the promise of Obama’s presidency and refused to embrace a vision of the country shorn of the insidious belief that white people matter more than others.
We have been here before: For James Baldwin, these after times came in the wake of the civil rights movement, when a similar attempt to compel a national confrontation with the truth was answered with the murders of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. In these years, spanning from the publication of The Fire Next Time in 1963 to that of No Name in the Street in 1972, Baldwin transformed into a more overtly political writer, a change that came at great professional and personal cost. But from that journey, Baldwin emerged with a sense of renewed purpose about the necessity of pushing forward in the face of disillusionment and despair.
In the story of Baldwin’s crucible, Glaude suggests, we can find hope and guidance through our own after times, this Trumpian era of shattered promises and white retrenchment. Mixing biography—drawn partially from newly uncovered interviews—with history, memoir, and trenchant analysis of our current moment, Begin Again is Glaude’s endeavor, following Baldwin, to bear witness to the difficult truth of race in America today. It is at once a searing exploration that lays bare the tangled web of race, trauma, and memory, and a powerful interrogation of what we all must ask of ourselves in order to call forth a new America.
Eddie S. Glaude Jr. is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor at Princeton University and author of Democracy in Black.
Kiese Laymon, Ottilie Schillig Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi, is the author of the novel Long Division and a collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America. He is also the author of the memoir Heavy, which won the Carnegie Medal for Nonfiction in 2019 .