A fascinating biography of crime writer Chester Himes chronicles his colorful personal life, from his youth as a petty criminal and prison experiences to his rise to success as an acclaimed poet, critic, and novelist, and his extraordinary literary work. Reprint. - (Baker & Taylor)
In this literary biography, acclaimed poet, critic, and novelist James Sallis explores Himes's life as no other writer has attempted before. Combining the public facts with fresh interviews with the people who knew him best, including his second wife, Lesley, Sallis casts light onto the contradictions, self-interrogations, and misdirections that make Himes such an enigmatic and elusive subject. - (Blackwell North Amer)
Drawing on interviews with his wife and others who knew him, poet and novelist Sallis weaves together the facts of the American writer Himes' (1909-84) life with analysis of his fiction to find the relationship between the two. Himes began writing in prison in the early 1930s, and is now known as one of the 20th century's best writers of crime fiction, especially in Germany and his adopted France. This is a paperbound reprint of a 2000 book. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com) - (Book News)
Chester Himes's novels and memoirs represent one of the most important bodies of work by any American writer, but he is best known for The Harlem Cycle, the crime stories featuring Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones. His writing made him a major figure in Europe, but it is only recently that his talents have been acknowledged in the country that spurned him for most of his life, though his work is recognized as being on a par with that of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and Jim Thompson.
In this major literary biography, acclaimed poet, critic, and novelist James Sallis explores Himes's life as no writer has attempted before. Combining the public facts with fresh interviews with the people who knew him best, including his second wife, Lesley, Sallis casts light onto the contradictions, self-interrogations, and misdirections that make Himes such an enigmatic and elusive subject.
Chester Himes: A Life is a definitive study not only of the life of a major African-American man of letters, but of his writing and its relationship to the man himself, drawing a remarkable, deeply affecting portrait of a too often misunderstood and neglected writer. This is a work of high scholarship and of penetrating and passionate insight, a rare conjoining of two fine writers-and as much a work of literature as any of their novels.
- (McMillan Palgrave
Best known as a writer of detective stories and the chronicler of Harlem life in the 1930s and 1940s (his Cotton Comes to Harlem was made into a movie during the so-called Blaxploitation period), Himes was much more complex and idiosyncratic in both his work and life. Sallis retraces Himes' childhood in a middle-class family: his father was a dark-skinned, industrious man, his mother was part white and part black, a woman who carefully gauged racial and class distinctions and sought the best for her children. Himes' attraction to the street life eventually led to prison, where he discovered writing as a means of expression and salvation, if not livelihood. Himes depicted America's dispossessed and explored the unresolved racial and sexual tensions and contradictions of American life. He voiced the unspoken truths of America: black hatred of their oppressors, fear of the discovery of that hatred, and the self-hatred borne of that fear. Himes' unique blend of horror, sorrow, and humor should make this biography widely appealing among contemporary readers. ((Reviewed February 15, 2001)) Copyright 2001 Booklist Reviews