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Never before available, the unexpurgated last interview with James Baldwin"I was not born to be what someone said I was. I was not born to be defined by someone else, but by myself, and myself only." When, in the fall of 1987, the poet Quincy Troupe traveled to the south of France to interview James Baldwin, Baldwin's brother David told him to ask Baldwin about everything--Baldwin was critically ill and David knew that this might be the writer's last chance to speak at length about his life and work.The result is one of the most eloquent and revelatory interviews of Baldwin's career, a conversation that ranges widely over such topics as his childhood in Harlem, his close friendship with Miles Davis, his relationship with writers like Toni Morrison and Richard Wright, his years in France, and his ever-incisive thoughts on the history of race relations and the African-American experience.Also collected here are significant interviews from other moments in Baldwin's life, including an in-depth interview conducted by Studs Terkel shortly after the publication of Nobody Knows My Name. These interviews showcase, above all, Baldwin's fearlessness and integrity as a writer, thinker, and individual, as well as the profound struggles he faced along the way.
Quincy Troupe's candid account of his friendship with Miles Davis is a revealing portrait of a great musician and an intimate study of a unique relationship. It is also an engrossing chronicle of the author's own development, both artistic and personal. As Davis's collaborator on Miles: The Autobiography, Troupe--one of the major poets to emerge from the 1960s--had exceptional access to the musician. This memoir goes beyond the life portrayed in the autobiography to describe in detail the processes of Davis's spectacular creativity and the joys and difficulties his passionate, contradictory temperament posed to the men's friendship. It shows how Miles Davis, both as a black man and an artist, influenced not only Quincy Troupe but whole generations. Troupe has written that Miles Davis was "irascible, contemptuous, brutally honest, ill-tempered when things didn't go his way, complex, fair-minded, humble, kind and a son-of-a-bitch." The author's love and appreciation for Davis make him a keen, though not uncritical, observer. He captures and conveys the power of the musician's presence, the mesmerizing force of his personality, and the restless energy that lay at the root of his creativity. He also shows Davis's lighter side: cooking, prowling the streets of Manhattan, painting, riding his horse at his Malibu home. Troupe discusses Davis's musical output, situating his albums in the context of the times--both political and musical--out of which they emerged.
For more than forty years Miles Davis has been in the front rank of American music. Universally acclaimed as a musical genius, Miles is one of the most important and influential musicians in the world. The subject of several biographies, now Miles speaks out himself about his extraordinary life. Miles: The Autobiography,like Miles himself, holds nothing back. For the first time Miles talks about his five-year silence. He speaks frankly and openly about his drug problem and how he overcame it. He condemns the racism he has encountered in the music business and in American society generally. And he discusses the women in his life. But above all, Miles talks about music and musicians, including the legends he has played with over the years: Bird, Dizzy, Monk, Trane, Mingus, and many others. The man who has given us some of the most exciting music of the past few decades has now given us a compelling and fascinating autobiography, featuring a concise discography and thirty-two pages of photographs.