A Rage in Harlem: Chester Himes

Posted: September 2, 2011 in Social Commentary
Tags: , , , , , ,

“If I buy us each a copy of this book will you read it with me?”

A simple and innocuous request from a friend.  Something that perhaps would not require much thought from others but for someone like me; he who has a penchant for reading multiple books all at one time, would require some creative juggling of my sparse reading time and possibly the sacrifice of one of the many titles that stare at me from my burgeoning (to my mind) collection of interesting reads.

Quality time…

For me, it was also an excuse to engage in a little quality time with a friend that I love dearly and yet spend far too little time with for my liking.

“Chester Himes is an excellent writer…” She informed me; telling me that I would no doubt enjoy the book and potentially would enjoy his other offerings as well.  I had to admit to her that I had not heard of Himes before, nor his work.

Her enthusiasm was infectious and ultimately resulted in a brand new copy of ‘A Rage in Harlem’ falling through my letter box a few weeks later; brand new because she knows me so well that she understood I would not enjoy the experience if I were reading a used book with dog ears, tears or scribbles in the margins; let alone an errant hair from someone else’s head that might have jumped out at me from between the pages of a second-hand copy.

The size of the book; 211 pages, the look of the book; stylish and graphic cover art and the gripping synopsis on the back cover immediately grabbed my attention.

The first chapter, no the first few paragraphs of the novel, enticed me to want more.  For anyone who has not had the opportunity, no – the absolute pleasure to have read ‘A Rage in Harlem’ I whole-heartedly suggest you go out and buy yourself a copy right now.

The characters are rich in-depth; Himes’ narrative describing them in such vivid and bold colour in your mind that you feel as though they are there with you in the room.  The locations and settings are dark, brooding and immediately transport you into the Harlem that Himes so adroitly paints for you; layer upon layer, page after page.

The story tells of love; foolish love; blind love; gullible love and ultimately troubled love that leads the principal character on a journey that would result in his world being tragically turned upside down.

What Himes manages to do in 211 pages is to provide a literary experience that leaves the reader wanting more.  I know I want more.

So – if you are part of a book club and are looking for a title to suggest to your group, you could do much worse than to put forward ‘A Rage in Harlem’ as the next title in your reading list.

If you have a flight to take, a road trip or any journey of two to three hours; take Chester Himes along for the ride with you.  The ride Chester will take you on will make your journey infinitely more interesting than it could possibly have been before.

  1. miffed67 says:

    Actually, I DO belong to a book club, and it’s my turn to pick the book next, so thanks for the recommendation! 🙂

  2. I’ll check it out. Always looking for good recommendations. Thanks Mark

  3. My reading time is sparse, too, but I like when you talk about the books that you find interesting. It helps me to hear impressions from readers about what they’re drawn to in anyone’s writing. It adds to the information I’m collecting on my blog, my attempt to give myself some of the education I can’t afford in a college setting.

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