The End of a Primitive - Chester Himes While reading Mike Davis’ City of Quartz, I came across a reference to Chester Himes:

“Up to the age of thirty-one I had been hurt emotionally, spiritually, and physically as much as thirty-one years can bear: I had lived in the South, I had fallen down an elevator shaft, I had been kicked out of college, I had served seven and one half years in prison, I had survived the humiliating last five years of the Depression in Cleveland; and still I was entire, complete, functional; my mind was sharp, my reflexes were good, and I was not bitter. But under the mental corrosion of race prejudice in Los Angeles I had become bitter and saturated with hate.” (from The Quality of Hurt)

After that, I had to read this man. Fortunately a friend of mine possesses three of his novels (see my To-Read shelf for the others) and lent them to me.

This first one I’ve read is a short (152 pages), intense melodrama about a white woman and a black man, neither of whom are in control of their lives, and their encounter truly ends “in a nightmare of drink and debauchery,” as the blurb says.

While there’s certainly nothing admirable about either character, Himes writes with enormous energy and readers will find themselves feeling and sympathizing with both.

I look forward to eventually getting to the other two novels on my shelf and picking up more Himes in the future.