The Collected Novels of Charles Wright: The Messenger, The Wig, and Absolutely Nothing to Get Alarmed About (Paperback)

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The Collected Novels of Charles Wright: The Messenger, The Wig, and Absolutely Nothing to Get Alarmed About Cover Image
By Charles Wright, Ishmael Reed (Introduction by)
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Staff Reviews

Overshadowed by the other black writers of his time (namely James Baldwin), Charles Wright finally gets his due in this reissued collection of his three crackling autofictional novels about down-and-out life on the streets of New York. Bisexual and light-skinned enough to be mistaken for Filipino or Puerto Rican, Wright was a man who never quite fit in with any one group but drifted ghost-like through many, sharing the company of both literary high society as well as junkies and drag queens. Though utterly unromantic about the bohemian lifestyle of the struggling artist, the dereliction of his world is nonetheless portrayed with elegance and a deep compassion for everyone struggling to get by day to day.

— Nick


“Reading Wright is a steep, stinging pleasure.”—Dwight Garner, New York Times

In this incisive, satirical collection of three classic American novels by Charles Wright—hailed by the New York Times as “malevolent, bitter, glittering”—a young, black intellectual from the South struggles to make it in New York City. This special compilation includes a foreword by acclaimed poet and novelist Ishmael Reed, who calls Wright, “Richard Pryor on paper.”

As fresh and poignant as when originally published in the sixties and seventies, The Messenger, The Wig, and Absolutely Nothing to get Alarmed About form Charles Wright’s remarkable New York City trilogy. By turns brutally funny and starkly real, these three autobiographical novels create a memorable portrait of a young, working-class, black intellectual—a man caught between the bohemian elite of Greenwich Village and the dregs of male prostitution and drug abuse.

Wright’s fiction is searingly original in bringing to life a special time, a special place, and the remarkable story of a man living in two worlds. This updated edition shines a spotlight once again on this important writer—a writer whose work is so crucial to our times.

About the Author

Charles Stevenson Wright was born at New Franklin, Missouri, on June 4, 1932. He published three highly praised autobiographical novels. He died at the age of 76.

Praise For…

“Wright [writes] with a sense of style and intensity of vision. . .he never stopped taking it all down, turning it into art, and being true to his calling.”
— BookForum

“These books show that we still have more to learn about the emotional and stylistic breadth of black writing from this era.”
— Slate
Product Details
ISBN: 9780062839602
ISBN-10: 0062839608
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: August 27th, 2019
Pages: 416
Language: English