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My Soul Looks Back
272 pages; Scribner
In New York City in the early '70s, food writer Jessica B. Harris fell in with "an extraordinary circle of friends," including James Baldwin and Maya Angelou, who "lived outrageously, loved abundantly, laughed uproariously, and savored life while they created work that would come to define the era." An intensely educated young black woman from a progressive family, Harris worked at Queens College, where she met her husband and Baldwin's closest confidant, Sam Floyd. Floyd smoked Gauloises Bleues, smelled of Chanel Pour Homme and "talked of African American literature and opera, politics and cooking, and golf." Fifteen years older and already an established member of the black intelligentsia, Sam was Harris' entrée into this iconic group, but it's her wide-eyed and wistful observations that captivate the reader. In fact, after a tragic turn of events, the memoir transforms into a beautiful, bohemian coming-of-age story as Harris finds her own voice—at last.
— Kelly McMasters