Picks and Pans Review: Just Above My Head

UPDATED 10/29/1979 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 10/29/1979 at 01:00 AM EST

by James Baldwin

Julia is a child evangelist in Harlem. After her mother dies and her father has his way with her, she preaches her last sermon and flees. Her brother Jimmy is the accompanist and boyfriend of a homosexual singer, and the siblings' lives criss-cross with each other. As in the past, Baldwin powerfully evokes the ambience of bars, cafes, apartments, streets and the very weather of New York and Paris. His characters are funky, violent, crazed, worldly, innocent and wildly overdrawn. The style borrows from the excesses of black gospel hymns and preaching, but that is appropriate to the story. Reading it is an entrancing plunge into dark and melancholy waters. (Dial, $12.95)

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