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I was attracted to Baldwin s voice as an essayist and in his first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain. When I started to read the later novels like Tell Me How Long the Train s Been Gone or Just Above My Head, I could see something had that gone astray not only in his voice but he was using fiction as a kind of polemic... I felt that he had sacrificed a lot of the integrity, grit, and solitude to be of service to the movement. He is a good example of why it s important to step away and have those private moments to one s self. Easy for me to say because he was living at a time when his voice was absolutely crucial to the struggle but it didn t serve him as a writer As an exhibition focusing on James Baldwin opens in New York, its curator @hilton.als remembers his encounters with Baldwin s writing, and how he serves as both inspiration and a cautionary tale. On

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