Monday, December 26, 2011

What I Read on My Winter Vacation: Gather Together in My Name

Once again, your guide to pretending you've read books when people ask.

Angelou, Maya. Gather Together in My Name. Toronto: Bantam, 1975. Print.

I got this book many years ago, when I was a teacher and it was one of the options I had for teaching to my juniors. I neither read it nor taught it then.

Summary with spoilers (highlight to read): Maya Angelou had a really ridiculous late adolescence, apparently, including kind of a lot of criminal activity and a lot of moving around. She works as a cook, a pimp, a waitress, a prostitute, a chauffeurette, and a couple other things. She falls in love with a few real jerks. And when she thinks of it, she cares for her young child.

If you tell people you read this book, they'll think you're: Smart and interesting enough to get past I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. If you then tell them you haven't actually read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, they may or may not be intrigued by your choosing to read just part of the middle of a memoir.

Your informed opinion of this book is that it's: Not all that Christmassy. And beautifully written, though it reads like what it is — the middle of a memoir. Angelou's writing is magnificent — her imagery is flawless and her honest self-appraisal ranges from hilarious to sobering — but the book ends and you wonder, "And then?!"
And while we're talking about it, you know what's similar but better or worse? I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, probably, but like I said, I haven't read it. Honestly, though, I'm not sure it's like anything else I've read.

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