"AN EXCEEDINGLY IMPORTANT BLACK FICTIVE VOICE OF HIS GENERATION": KEY ASSOCIATION FIRST EDITION OF WILLIAM ATTAWAY'S FIRST NOVEL, LET ME BREATHE THUNDER, 1939, FROM THE LIBRARY OF AWARD-WINNING NOVELIST BILL PRONZINI
ATTAWAY, William. Let Me Breathe Thunder. New York: Doubleday, Doran, 1939. Octavo, original brown cloth, original dust jacket. $1100.
First edition of Attaway's critically praised novel, the first of only two novels by him, published at a pivotal point between the Harlem Renaissance and Richard Wright's Native Son, a distinctive association copy from the library of Edgar Award-winning novelist Bill Pronzini, in original dust jacket.
Attaway, an "exceedingly important black fictive voice of his generation," based much of Let Me Breathe Thunder on his experiences in the Great Depression. In this lesser known but key work, he echoes themes of the Harlem Renaissance and the realism of his friend Richard Wright. The novel tells the story of two white migrant workers who befriend a young Mexican American as they seek work. The Saturday Review early praised the novel, saying: "Attaway writes easily, the way a man walks or tells a tale, with natural vigor and his objective clear." To other reviewers, including Ralph Ellison, the novel showed the promise of a major talent that would be realized in Attaway's second and final novel, Blood on the Forge (1941). "By that time Attaway had established himself as a notable figure on the African American cultural landscape in New York City," along with Langston Hughes and others. In his later work as a screenwriter, he was also "a pathbreaking creative force in film and television in a period when there were few black voices to be heard" (Writers of the Black Chicago Renaissance, 30, 48). And in his work as composer, he worked closely with Harry Belafonte. Attaway was also active in civil rights, marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma. He died in 1986. With "First Edition," code "CL" on copyright page. Later issued in wrappers, titled Tough Kid (1952). Blockson 5692. Bruccoli & Clark II:23. From the library of Edgar Award-winning writer Bill Pronzini, with his library inkstamp. Pronzini was awarded the Grand Prix de la Littérature Policière for the best crime novel published in France in 1988. His novel Wasteland of Strangers was nominated for best crime novel of 1997 by both the Mystery Writers of America and the International Crime Writers Association. Pronzini has also received several Shamus Awards for his work, including the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Book fine; light edge-wear, mild toning to spine of near-fine dust jacket.