I learned about WWI in Italy, about which I knew next to nothing, little bit more about Italian painting and esthetics and Italy in general. I like stI learned about WWI in Italy, about which I knew next to nothing, little bit more about Italian painting and esthetics and Italy in general. I like stories that follow characters through their whole lives. Some of them, like the crazy scribe Orfeo, seemed somewhat unbelievable. ...more
**spoiler alert** This book takes some concentration to read but was worth the effort. I was recently asking myself if novelists could address ordinar**spoiler alert** This book takes some concentration to read but was worth the effort. I was recently asking myself if novelists could address ordinary people living ordinary lives which is our situation most of the time (fortunately) rather than trapped in war or other disasters, natural or man made. Although the most poor are not included, the characters are mainly middle class and the trials and tribulations of all the characters are what many of us face: figuring out what is important, conforming or going against society's rules, how much to compromise in seeking a career or in relationships. There were a lot of funny lines, like when Celia wonders how long Dorothea will continue her "Hamlet like ravings". Now I will reread it....more
**spoiler alert** When your image of Maya Angelou is of a tall, stately older African American woman who is amazingly articulate, the story of her ear**spoiler alert** When your image of Maya Angelou is of a tall, stately older African American woman who is amazingly articulate, the story of her early life in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Gather Together In My Name is almost disconcerting. One doesn't usually picture a future poet laureate of the United States from age 17-19 as a short order cook, almost military recruit, whorehouse madam, teenage single mother, vaudeville dancer, prostitute and lover of Russian novels. "As Hagen points out, since Angelou was encouraged to appreciate literature as a young child, she continues to read, exposing herself to a wide variety of authors, ranging from Countee Cullen's poetry to Leo Tolstoy and other Russian authors. She states, during her stint as a madame, "when my life hinged melodramatically on intrigue and deceit, I discovered the Russian writers"." I don't think discovering the Russian writers and finding them helpful in your life is an experience many have. Most of us viewed our contact with Russian writers as part of a required reading list that we felt lucky to get out of alive.
She managed to tight rope walk through many episodes where a bad ending seemed much more likely. How she managed to get pregnant on her first self chosen initiation into the world of sex and then never get pregnant again in many encounters seems to defy the odds. What remains a mystery to me is how some people rise up to great heights getting through difficult circumstances of racism, poverty and single motherhood while most people are stymied, if not crushed. How do some people "get through?"
"In 1993, Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton, becoming the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961."...more