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Nelson Algren
Listening to James Baldwin (and others) in 'Calliope Author Readings'
Listening to James Baldwin (and others) in 'Calliope Author Readings'

James Baldwin's 90th birthday falls this week, and to mark the occasion, I've been listening to him read. The source? “Calliope Author Readings,” a set of two CDs, recorded in the early 1960s and featuring, among other highlights, two tour de force performances by Baldwin from his novels “Another Country” and “Giovanni’s Room.” It’s a delightfully low-tech wonder — no tricks, no frills, no sound effects; just those measured intonations, and the power of his words. The same is true of the six other writers in “Calliope Author Readings,” all but one of them dead now. These recordings (they are also available for...

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