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Giovanni’s Room

By James Baldwin

A short, intense book from the 1950s. It is a novel set in Paris, following David, a young American who is very alienated from his emotions. While his girlfriend is away to Spain, he meets Giovanni and they fall in love. David doesn’t truly allow himself to feel this completely, a stark contrast to Giovanni, an Italian. The framing chapters are set after the affair has ended, so you feel the doom of it early. It’s very well-written, and interesting to inhabit this world — the gay subculture of Paris in the 1950s — for a while. It’s a tragic story, but never over the top.

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