Read John Henry Days by Colson Whitehead Free Online
Book Title: John Henry Days|
The author of the book: Colson Whitehead
Date of issue: May 15th 2001
ISBN 13: 9780385498197
Loaded: 1194 times
Reader ratings: 4.5
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 1.27 MB
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I am befuddled by these reviews. I have tried to read The Intuitionist 4 times; APEX is a riff on all the good in John Henry Days; Sag Harbor worked better as a short story. But John Henry Days? This is about my 11th time reading it, this time in prep for teaching it again for the first time in almost 10 years. I'm basing the star rating (really a 3 1/2) on this read of it, which for me has lost a little of the magic since a) I know what's going to happen and b) I've poured over every line a 1000 times. But don't be mistaken: the last few chapters are emotional gold. The entirety of the book, conceptually and structurally, is freaking genius.
This is most assuredly a novel about character, characters in the literary vein of Ahab, obsessed beyond the brink: with stamps, with memory, with ghosts, with stories, with notoriety. And that transcends history, it transcends the narrative threads in the novel, it transcends human experience.
But there is also the structure of the novel, which is explained in the prologue: all story is composed of multiple stories of individuals. Subjectivity is a bitch, and it can be tedious to sift through the multiple narrative threads of real life. And oh, look, the book is structured in the EXACT same way! What is contemporary folklore and mythology? How has it transformed since 2001 (or 1996 in the timeline of the novel)? It would be interesting to see where J. is at today.
In terms of tone, what everyone is dismissing as Whitehead being ever-clever here is really very simple: there is a racial tet-a-tet in the South that must be rendered in irony so that one doesn't just give up altogether. To dismiss the humor as too smart means there are some really stupid readers reading this book.
I want my authors to challenge me to the edge, like the characters in this novel get pushed to the edge. How else does one work through the mental/ historical chains to self-actualization?
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Read information about the authorI'm the author of the novels Zone One; Sag Harbor; The Intuitionist, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award; John Henry Days, which won the Young Lions Fiction Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Apex Hides the Hurt, winner of the PEN Oakland Award. I've also written a book of essays about my home town, The Colossus of New York, and a non-fiction account of the 2011 World Series of Poker called The Noble Hustle. A recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a MacArthur Fellowship, I live in New York City.
My latest book, The Underground Railroad, is an Oprah's Book Club pick.
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