I’ve always held this notion that there is such a thing as missed connections when it comes to novel-reading. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin is one such book for me–it is a deeply moving story in many ways, but I think its effect would’ve been more profound on me if I had read it when I was younger. Which means that the fault is mine and not the novel’s, of course.
Giovanni’s Room is a novel of claustrophobia, of physical smallness and emotional suffocation. The title refers to the rented Parisian room that an American expatriate named David shares with a bartender he meets at a gay bar. He is a typical example of the young, disaffected Americans who traipse around Paris in the post-war period, but his life takes a turn the moment Giovanni strikes a conversation with him. Passion is ignited in an instant, but while their mutual attraction is acknowledged and consummated early on, their happiness is far from assured.