Nineteen seventy-two saw the publication of the autobiographical novel We Can’t Breathe. For several years, aided by several writing grants, Ronald Fair traveled abroad, pursuing a writing life of great ambition. In the early seventies critic Shane Stevens called him “one of the two best black writers in the country.” Yet this promise somehow never came to full fruition.
Posts by Cecil Brown
Frederick Douglass saw the Fourth as a mockery, because he was still a slave, but slave poet George Moses Horton saw Independence Day as one to be celebrated as a victory for all. As indeed it was.
Who was George Moses Horton? I suspect that he was someone like Common, who would dance and gesture when he composed.
Apparently, Jimmy had been given an advance of $100,000 for If Beale Street Could Talk with the promise of another $200,000 on completion. I gathered that he was anxious to get it done. It seemed as if he needed the seclusion of this special place to write about the tragic life of black Americans.
The Common Reader remembers the iconic African-American novelist Toni Morrison in this 1995 interview: “Black writing has to carry that burden of other people’s desires, not artistic desires but social desires; it’s always perceived as working out somebody’s else’s agenda. No other literature has that weight.”