Baldwin sent me his book and I read it. I read it sitting on a verandah with cold beer and cats on my lap. I read it in one sitting as the sun crossed the grey clouded sky and faded into the horizon. The ocean turned black as the light faded and night fell. I drank 7 or 8 beers while I read it. The beers dripped their condensation on the pages of the book and now the pages have beer stains that will remind me when I read it again where I was and how I enjoyed the crisp clear beer while reading Baldwin’s book.
His writing is clean and crisp like the beer I drank while reading it. His story goes down smoothly like the beer. I started reading with little interest because I don’t like big city people who have problems they bring on themselves because of their stupidity and laziness. But something about it kept me reading. It was the danger, I suppose. The guns and the violence and the danger are all things I like in a book and in life. I also like writing about war. It brings out a man’s true character. This book is about a war. A war in Los Angeles in 1992 between some good people and some bad people. The good people are not all good and the bad people are not all bad. That is the way with people.
I like the way Baldwin writes. He understands that life must be lived and fears faced. I have been through war and the riot of 1992 was a war. The bell tolled for many and no one came out of it without a wound. But some took the wounds and used them. They felt them and studied them and were true to them. That is life well lived. This is a book about life.
Baldwin tells me we share the same birthday. That is an interesting fact. I like facts because they are sharp and hard and cannot be denied. I don’t like it when people try to deny facts. Such people do not know themselves and do not understand life.
I would take Baldwin hunting some day if I could. I bet he’d be a good hunter because his eye is clear and sharp and his words cut fast and sharp, like hard flat stones skimmed across the surface of a calm cool lake. His characters go out too far like Jake and Santiago and me. I like that too about his book. His characters know how to live and they know how to die.
I’d like to meet Baldwin and see how he lives. But I’m dead and my verandah and beer and cats are all far from the earth that he and all the people alive now still live on. I don’t live there anymore. I put a rifle in my mouth and pulled the trigger. But I won’t talk about that. There are many things that should not be talked about. A man and a writer must understand that what is not talked about gives a story and his life even more meaning. You have to know a lot to leave a lot out. Baldwin’s book leaves a lot out. That’s what I like about it most.
So I will never meet Baldwin and drink a beer with him and take him hunting. That is too bad. We could have had a good time together. At least it’s pretty to think so.