mr. hiv

Mr. HIV

by I.B. Freeman
urban book review, urban book reviews, street lit reviews, review, hip hop, black, african americanurban book review, urban book reviews, street lit reviews, review, hip hop, black, african americanurban book review, urban book reviews, street lit reviews, review, hip hop, black, african americanurban book review, urban book reviews, street lit reviews, review, hip hop, black, african american

Reviewed by: Push Nevahda
October 2009


What a writer is obliged to realize at some point is that he is involved with a language which he has to change. For example, for a black writer, especially in this country, to be born into the English language is to realize that the assumptions of which the language operates are his enemy.
--James Baldwin, U. C. Berkeley Campus, circa 1979 
 
The only thing that kept my attention while reading I.B. Freeman’s peculiar novel, Mr. H.I.V. is the wealth of medical information inundating the pages. The only thing that saves the novel is its raw, candid, and vivid portrayal of Darren Woods as a successful bachelor who contracts the H.I.V. virus and then seeks revenge. That stated, Freeman’s book leaves us stranded between the two irrational standards of white versus black – or just simply stuck between a rock and a hard place, scaling down thorny branches of a modern viewpoint which – in the face of capitalist motives - perhaps no longer matters. But the answer to the ever glaring question of what constitutes literature is revisited upon Freeman’s audacious book, the outcome of which makes us skeptical and confused because it is good and it is bad.

So, then, we are not just colored peoples - and this is an important distinction to note (particularly given this Modern World context) because it may be the thing which delineates the difference between the black writer and the white writer, the African artist from the European artist, Brazilian poetry from Canadian poetry, and so on. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. along with several other black scholars have fought long and hard to exorcise the American literary canon of its racist criterion. In Contemporary Black Biography “he has insisted that black literature must be evaluated by the aesthetic criteria of its culture of origin, not criteria imported from Western or European cultural traditions that express a ‘tone deafness to the black cultural voice’ and result in intellectual racism” (Vol. 67. Gale, 2008).

Certainly, Gate’s and Nellie Y. McKay’s Norton Anthology of African American Literature puts forth an honest attempt to shape an African American canon, but still – for the sake of Freeman’s book - we must have a firm understanding of what constitutes African American literature, or at least understand some of the major themes and motifs in African American literature. Suffering, revenge, protest…and then it depends of the era too, right? Writer Nick Chiles is disenchanted at the direction of black literature, and particular what mainstream bookstores “considered African American literature to be.” He recently spoke of a visit to a local bookstore: “[All] that I could see was lurid book jackets displaying all forms of brown flesh, usually half-naked and in some erotic pose, often accompanied by guns and other symbols of criminal life” (What Is African-American Literature? by Gerald Early. 05 February 2009).

But Freeman’s book is more than just another typical urban novel. It is the poignant story of a fellow named Darren Wade who finds out that he has contracted the H.I.V. virus. Distraught, angry, and furious of the possibility of being purposely infected, Wade sets out on a self-destructing path of revenge. But this typical (almost cliché) story is not what keeps the reader engrossed in the story, but rather it is Freeman’s keen insight into both the intimate and psychological lives of H.I.V. patients as well as his keen observations (and critique) of the medical establishment.

So we are back to the situation at hand. We can look at Freeman’s novel from angles. Freeman will never write like Baldwin, Hemingway, nor should he even dream of the faintest possibility that will ever write on the level of Robert Goolrick or Toni Morrison. Yet, at times, Freeman’s writing displays the brilliant simplicity of Morrison’s Bluest Eye, and the symbolism of Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea. But no one will ever really see that if they measure Freeman’s book by modern standards….and modern standards are always white standards.

What did you like best about this book?
The story in general is very good. It was very vivid and informative. I learned so much.

What did you dislike about this book?
Freeman's story is too informal in terms of structure.

How could the author improve this book?
Hire a good editor.  


The views expressed in published reviews are solely those of the reviewer. The Urban Book Source cannot be held accountable. The information featured, represents that of the reviewer and not that of The Urban Book Source. The reviewer takes full responsibility for the information presented.

Comments page 1 of 1:
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Florence :
Posted 1884 days ago
You've impressed us all with that psotnig!
 




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