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  • Paperback
  • 240 pages
  • Bailey's Café
  • Gloria Naylor
  • English
  • 01 March 2017
  • 9780679748212

10 thoughts on “Bailey's Café

  1. says:

    Bailey s Cafe is the first book I ve read in a long time that shares the same kind of atmosphere of friendship, magic and lifelong connections as books like Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, except in this case, it s in a beautifully written Brooklyn setting Naylor is perfect at coming the elements of magical realism with detailed characters together, and while the book is short stories, it reads just like a full length novel.No character in Bailey s Cafe is perfect, because they re not supposed to be Instead they re all human beings who ve chosen this small place to gather from time to time passing their stories around Do these little cafes where everyone knows everyone even still exist any The nostalgia element really adds an extra spark of charm to the story, but what really makes it an unforgettable book is the way these characters are old friends and everything is so interconnected The author has a different sort of tone for each type of character yet somehow it all fits together as they seek redemption and hope in the one place that offers solace.I really loved this book and I d definitely want to read it again While at times quite dark and featuring less than savoury characters, that s part of what makes it so good Both deep and vivid, Bailey s Cafe seems like one of those books that s just destined to become a classic in decades to come.


  2. says:

    I think I ve read my favorite book of 2019 In February How depressing, lmao Gloria Naylor is my queen and saviour Mama Day was my favorite book of 2018 and I cannot wait to read her entire work, this woman can do no wrong Bailey s Cafe by Gloria Naylor is a 1992 novel by award winning American author Gloria Naylor The novel consists of a loosely intertwined group of stories, all told in first person, about the owners and patrons of Bailey s Cafe, an apparently supernatural establishment, set nominally in New York City, whose entrance can be found from different places and times hush now can you hear it can t be far awayneeding the blues to get therelook and you can hear itlook and you can hearthe blues opena place neverclosing Bailey s Cafe Before the actual novel starts, Gloria graces us with this hauntingly beautiful lullaby In this cradle song, Gloria invokes the blues as a vehicle to take her characters from one form of existence to another and takes its subsequent power prior to introduce the characters of the novel The stories which comprise the novel echo and reecho each other, but resist closure Bailey s Cafe is the story of a magical place and of the lost souls who have found there, if not redemption, at least a safe haven As the chapter and section titles suggest, Gloria structures her novel in the form of a jazz performance Naylor begins with Maestro, If You Please , which sets the stage and tone for the rest of the characters From there the novel moves to The Vamp , a simple introductory phrase that can be repeated indefinitely until a soloist entires, those characters will step forwards, one at a time, during the The Jam Each of the novel s characters, or performers, has the opportunity to tell their story or play their part Finally, the novel moves into the The Wrap , which indicates the music is over the story has been told There is nothing in back of this cafe Since the place sits right on the margin between the edge of the world and infinite possibility, he back door opens out to a void It takes courage to turn the knob and heart to leave the steps Bailey s Cafe is filled with life, albeit life in deep pain, and it touches the readers, informs and enriches them It serves as a way station, a place to go when they are defeated, to gather the strength to re enter their lives.The novel begins with a first person narrative by the man whom everyone calls Bailey, after the name of his place of business Even though Bailey never does mention his real name, he does not omit anything else from his life story He describes his childhood as the child of African Americans who were the servants of wealthy African Americans, his successful courtship of the beautiful Nadine, his failure in several jobs, and his participation in World War II What brought Bailey to despair, ironically, was the event that assured him of surviving that war the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Devastated by guilt, Bailey ended up on the wharf in San Francisco, then inexplicably found himself working in a rundown caf with Nadine beside him This is a cafe for people who are at the end of the world, in no win situations, Naylor noted It s a tiny breathing space, where you get a chance to reconstruct your life There s only two choices anyone has when the world burns down around you start rebuilding from the ashes or give up The folks at Bailey s don t quite throw in the towel, though they have every excuse to There s Peaches, a Mary Magdalene prostitute who scars her beauty so she won t be a prisoner of it, and Jesse, a former middle class matron turned heroin addict.The heart rending Sadie, who retains an aura of dignity despite a life of being abused And we have Miss Maple, a straight man who prefers to wear women s light percale dresses for some elaborate and fascinating reasons.Hovering over them is Eve, the crusty guardian angel who runs a boarding house next to Bailey s as a sort of healing waystation brothel for broken hearted strays.If Eve, the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene were alive in 1948, they would have found themselves lingering over coffee and pork chops at this greasy spoon Gloria Naylor, in her enigmatic and compelling novel, conjures up a kind of last chance eatery for women and a few men in need of a spiritual safe haven.Naylor spent two years doing research for the book, and another year writing it Early on I thought it was going to be all about prostitutes per se, and I interviewed some women who are in transition from working as prostitutes But as I got into it, I realized I had bigger fish to fry In an interview with The Seattle Times, Naylor explained that the underlying theme of Bailey s Cafe is how people define femaleness and female sexuality, how women have been cast in sexual roles since Eve Thus, the guests at Eve s boarding house do not fit the easy sexual labels used to control women s bodies Bailey s Cafe is the first of Naylor s novels to spotlight male characters Bailey , the owner of the caf , frames the patrons stories with his running commentary as well as narrates the story of his courtship of Nadine, his wife In addition, Miss Maples, a cross dressing male housekeeper and bouncer, tells the story of why he came to wearing dresses This shift in Naylor s exclusive interest in the stories of women has been interpreted as her desire to portray a different kind of male identity as well as to cultivate a different relationship with her male characters Though she penned some wrenching descriptions of men tormenting women, Gloria also devised some endearing male characters One, an elderly Russian Jew, maintains a rewarding bond with the black cafe owner I m a native New Yorker, and I grew up with Jewish teachers, Jewish neighbors, Gloria said, when asked about that relationship I think the tension between blacks and Jews gets blown all out of proportion in the press What we two peoples have gone through is not the same, but like Bailey and Gabe we can find ways to listen to and respect each other In each chapter of Bailey s Cafe, Gloria has a different character recount his or her life story, a story marked by failure and terminating at Bailey s Cafe or at Eve s place of business What is clear from each of the accounts is that these outcasts are all motivated by universal human needs It was the yearning for love which drove Sadie to obsessive cleanliness, then to alcohol, and which caused Jesse Bell, when snubbed by her husband s family, to take to drugs it was laudable ambition which eventually drove the well educated black man, Miss Maple , to work in a bordello, which had been established by a woman who herself had fled from Delta dust in hopes of finding a better life.The reminiscences of these victims of human selfishness, lust, cruelty, and indifference are heartbreaking However, what makes Bailey s Cafe most impressive is not Gloria s vivid accounts of her characters sufferings, but her emphasis on their will to endure Through her magical vision, Gloria Naylor has revealed both the humanity of her outcasts and their potential for heroism.Gloria foregoes the happy ending in the wrap, but she lets the maestro give a hopeful ending Mariam dies in the wall of water that she has created to bathe in, so her young son George will be raised an orphan, never knowing that on the occasion of his birth the world lit up with lights In this section, The Wrap, Bailey says, I don t believe that life is supposed to make you feel good, or to make you feel miserable either He says Life is just supposed to make you feel Likewise, as Naylor leaves each character arid the novel as a whole without closure she leaves the reader with the same words to live by the blues is not supposed to make you feel good either, it is just supposed to make you feel.


  3. says:

    An artistic, intricately woven band of characters well spoken, alive and jumping off of each page. This is an outstanding book Ms Naylor s art for storytelling is remarkable As soon as I started reading I was engrossed from the first page I technically do not know why I haven t read of her books and actually want to kick myself for not reading of her sooner Gloria Naylor has this writing style that s really vocal It s as if she s not an author telling you these phenomenal stories, it s the very characters themselves who extend themselves through time, page and reality to stand before you and share the history of their lives And these folks had ruff, real, tough, struggling, hard lives Lives that land them in a cafe at the edge of the world Bailey s Cafe.Bailey s Cafe is not said to exist on skid row per se but I want to say it is It s the common focal point for the whole novel It s the place where everyone you will meet visits and this is where they tell their stories Technically this is a book of short stories but you may never know it I like that The stories are so inner connected They all work together so well for the good of the whole novel There is a narrator of sorts who guides us through the introductions of the patrons of Bailey s Cafe Everyone is from somewhere and has some personal event that has brought them to this place I wouldn t say it s a place of healing but a place where they can feel free to be themselves whatever that interpretation may be It s very entertaining meeting all these people and learning of what brought them to this place so far from home Each story is different in the telling, the voice and even in the style Sometimes Ms Naylor becomes very poetic or even symbolistic Sometimes, the writing is philosophical, sometimes lyrical and sometimes just plain good story told right This book has it all Stirrings of the heart, sympathy, disappointment, anger, resignation and a lot of humor I m giving this a 5 1 2 stars Really good stuff I ve added several of her other books to my list and look forward to reading them I definitely recommend this to those that like stories with interesting characters You won t find a storybook happy ending It s ok to not always have this What you will find is that you will meet a cast of characters that you won t soon forget.


  4. says:

    Bailey s Cafe was the second book I read by Gloria Naylor, a readalong with an Instagram friend We had a great discussion about this one via DM after we both finished about characters, Naylor s style, and some of her other works.Similar to her earlier novel, Women of Brewster Place, this one includes multiple interlocking short stories around a central theme and location It s clear early on that the Bailey s Cafe is a unique place Narrated by the Cafe s proprietor and his wife, we hear the life stories often heartbreaking of the array of characters who are drawn to the Cafe.Some sections in this one reminded me of Mohsin Hamid s Exit West I am revisiting this one for book club, so it is fresh in my mind The use of portals doors is a reocurring theme in both The same magical realism feel as well.Published in 1992, Bailey s Cafe remains prescient Naylor has a timeless style and is such a strong storyteller.


  5. says:

    Though packed with graphic tales of prostitutes, drug addicts, and criminals this book was REALLY well written The cafe acts as a kind of emotional limbo, maybe even a Christ like place of redemption The concept is intriguing, and the stories heartbreaking rather than horrifying.


  6. says:

    Gloria Naylor is one of my absolute favourites now, so much that I ll eat whatever story she feeds me without even asking what ingredients she put in to cook them I had begun with Women of Brewster Place, but I fell for her writing and the amazing way of storytelling with Men of Brewster Place and Mama Day Baliey s Cafe is a book set in a magical plane and yet in the heart of New York The magical plane stretches to a single street with a Pawnshop that never opens for business owned by an old Jew, Gabe and a women s boardinghouse owned by the 1,000 year old woman Eve, the cafe owned by the man known as Bailey and his wife Nadine and the void behind their cafe.First off, there are many things I did not understand in the book There were plenty of ambiguities left in the stories of each person, and I sometimes wasn t able to fill the gaps and understand the particulars, but I did get the essence of each character s story.I have read only one book that deals with prostitution as not something taboo or lowly, Paulo Coelho s Eleven Minutes This is my second, as far as I can remember This talks about an array of characters, both men and women and one child who is also a mother, each with their own pain and sufferings and most of the women featured live in Eve s boardinghouse and are visited by gentlemen callers for their special favours What I love most about African American women s stories is how their pain resonates with me for some reason and this book, too, moved me I didn t understand why Sadie refused Iceman Jones, or how Mariam could become pregnant without ever having a sexual encounter or what exactly happened to Sweet Esther down in the basement or what exactly Miss Maple did to throw away his job at the glass company or how Eve travelled all that distance and aged a thousand years Come to think of it, I didn t understand so many things, and yet the prose is so beautiful, whatever I understood was so beautiful that I cannot give it less than four stars, because this book is beautiful I scoured the internet to understand that the book is formatted like a jazz song, and I feel like some of the ambiguities in the text remained just that because of my distance from both the time and place But I am still happy and content to have read this and I don t want to expose the plot because it is just a collection of beautiful stories of beautiful women and even men strung together in a neat bundle to shake your heart a little I just hope to find my answers now and I do recommend it to everyone out there, in anticipation of my answers I apologise if this was not much of a review Dec 25, 2016Edit Now that I have reread this book a couple of times and have written my master s dissertation on this, I feel thoroughly impressed with the amount of insight I have gained into this book The book is marvellous and would require a few rereads to absorb all the small and intricate details of life in it It is a feminist, magic realist, African American novel which deals with so many literary genres and forms that you ll be baffled But most of all, its a Biblical rewriting, a way of rendering Bible again, through the lives of characters, to portray themes closer to contemporary reality and pointing out problematic areas of a text like Bible It is a book inclusive of race, gender, sexuality, religion and everything in between that you can think of It is a delight to read and I m surprised and desperately need to reread Mama Day to see why my heart constantly bends towards that one.All my confusions, regarding Miss Maple, Sadie, Sweet Esther and everyone else have been clarified or answered to some extent in my multiple readings and if someone wants to discuss this novel with me, I m 100% game.


  7. says:

    Rarely do I find a book that moves me this much Every character was beautifully and richly written The way Naylor worked in all the characters through the cafe and Eve s place was touching the way they all acknowledged that their lives were in a transient, temporary state It also had a touch of magical realism People saw their dreams out back of the cafe, and many killed themselves there I couldn t quite grasp what exactly the back of the cafe was supposed to represent, but I think that the mystery of it all added to the story a lot The characters were different genders from different backgrounds and they all came together in beautiful ways Anyway, this book is really hard to describe, but it was gloriously written and definitely worth a read.


  8. says:

    I love this author Her use of language is beautiful and she creates really interesting characters She deals with pretty serious topics which can be overwhelming at times However, people actually do experience tragedy those sorts of tragedies She gives a voice to the sadness and traumas in life.


  9. says:

    Naylor is wonderful writer and her prose is fluid and drags you along its tidal pull She does veer off into symbolic metaphor land every once in awhile however unlike Toni Morrison, it isn t overbearingly pretentious or bogs you down With that said, Bailey s Cafe is an entertaining novel but it s less of a novel and of a collection of short stories All of characters end up at the cafe at some point, which is a waystation in limbo for people who are at a crossroads in their lives A place to decide whether you re going to continue on with life by walking out the front door or end it there at the cafe by walking out the back door Yet the only connection between characters is the interludes in which Bailey or Nadine introduce the next story.Each story is fascinating although some so than others Mary Part One and Mood Indigo stand out the most for me Another interesting fact is all the characters except one are women who are either prostitutes or were sexually abused Most of them end up at Eve s boarding house down the street from the cafe, another waystation in limbo but also a permanent place to stay as well.Overall, an interesting, engrossing and quick read but bear in mind it s of a collection of stories than a novel Naylor s equally impressive The Women Of Brewster Place achieves what she tried with Bailey s Cafe a novel that is a collection of stories about different characters that comes together as a cohesive, connected whole If you haven t already, I would suggest giving that a try too.


  10. says:

    my third New York Harlem Brooklyn novel in a row, after Daddy was a Number Runner , and The Tenants Malamud And all concerned with race and racism Pure coincidence.Actually not set in New York, but rather in limbo Bailey s Caf is where people wash up half way through life and tell their stories, mostly of deprivation and prejudice, from Harlem to the deep south, from Chicago and San Francisco, rural and urban The stories of fighting racism, and maintaining dignity are told in zestful prose, with humour and insight into the way the world works The novel is set between 1900 1949ish, so takes in the Second World War, the founding of Israel in one passage Jewish and colour prejudice are combined Whoever heard of a coloured Rabbi There s no such thing a s a black Jew Ain t being one or the other bad enough the KKK etc But it s not gloomy in one piece a man applies over and over for accountancy jobs that he s well qualified for, and uses his knowledge of statistics to calculate how long it would take him He s always getting turned down when he shows up because he s black except for once , but the knowledge he gains he thoroughly researches each firm is finally turned into a triumph Individuality is celebrated, hope keeps bubbling up, the caf is the place to go.


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About the Author: Gloria Naylor

Gloria Naylor was an African American novelist whose most popular work, The Women of Brewster Place, was made into a 1984 film starring Oprah Winfrey.Naylor won the National Book Award for first fiction in 1983 for The Women of Brewster Place Her subsequent novels included Linden Hills, Mama Day and Bailey s Cafe In addition to her novels, Naylor wrote essays and screenplays, as well as the