cover image The Fire Next Time

The Fire Next Time

James Baldwin, Author, Jesse L. Martin, Narrated by , read by Jesse L. Martin. BBC Audiobooks America $14.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-6028-3364-7

Speakers or headsets will have to be turned up to listen to Jesse L. Martin's low, slow reading of Baldwin's classic long essay on racism and African-American identity. Martin seeks to be respectful of Baldwin, but he ends up rendering the meaning and the force of his work relatively inert. Pausing in poorly selected places, placing emphasis where little should be placed, Martin does not convey the precision and anger of Baldwin's prose. Instead, Baldwin's book becomes Great Literature, to be intoned and honored, but not truly grasped. Readers with an interest in Baldwin's work will be far better served by reading his prose to themselves than having Martin read it to them. A Vintage paperback. (Apr.)