TASK: Write a letter to James Baldwin telling him what you think of the power of his writing.
Dear Mr. Baldwin,
I’m writing to tell you what I think about your writing and, quite simply, I think you have a mastery over words and the English language like no one else. You have a talent for bringing images – pleasant or unpleasant – so vividly to life that your readers are left speechless, searching for words. The images you paint are ones that live in your readers’ memories and haunt their thoughts for days after.
This was my experience when I read your short story “Going to Meet the Man”. I had been warned that this was an incredible piece of work and yet, it depicted something so horrific. I had no idea how horrific until I actually started reading it and while I was, my palms started to sweat and the words began to leap off the page and into my mind, conjuring up the scene you were painting in the story. I could start smelling the smells you were describing, seeing the sights you were seeing and feeling the objects and materials you were writing about.
Mr. Baldwin, I don’t know if I’ve ever read something more ghastly or amazing in my life and that is a true testament to your writing skills. However, I would be very remiss if I didn’t tell you how sorry I am for these awful events having occurred in the first place and giving you cause to write about them and reason to describe so vividly such horrors.