Monday, December 31, 2012

December Reads

Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

So, there are three sisters, the daughters of a Shakespearian scholar, who are psychologically messed up and have messed up lives each in their own way seemingly based on their birth order. That’s pretty much it. No real plot. I suppose there is character development in that the sisters grow up a bit and stop being such whiners. If you are an only child and know absolutely nothing about sibling relationships, then this MIGHT keep your interest. I don’t recommend this book. Not even as an easy read to pass the time. You’re better off organizing your sock drawer.

One good thing: I did enjoy the Shakespeare quotes. I finally understood some of the Bard’s writings.

Gather Together in My Name by Maya Angelou

This is the continuation of Maya Angelou’s memoirs after I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I had no idea she had written numerous memoirs until recently when I picked up the fourth in the series. They really don’t have to be read in order, but fleeting references to her past in subsequent books whet the appetite for going back and picking up the earlier books.

This one is my favorite. Through all of her books, it’s not about the what or the why, but that life just happens and you keep going, taking what comes, doing the best you can with what you have and what you know and that, sometimes, that’s not a whole lot. I love so much how she’s not bitter and that she doesn’t blame anyone for what she goes through (with the exception of society’s treatment of black people being the reason for certain attitudes or habits, but there’s no tone of malice or martyrdom, but there is a little wicked bite to some of it).There’s no sense of victimization, but also none of that saccharine optimism everything-happens-for-a-reason that puts my teeth on edge.  It may have been more cynical or depressing if she’d written it while she was going through it, but there’s also no I’m-older-now patronizing tone, either.

Throughout the story, she conveys a sense of knowing who she was, what she stood for, and what she wanted even if those things didn’t put her in the best light and even if she betrayed those things for foolish or seemingly noble purposes. If you want to know about moving on and not letting something that you 
experience in your life define who you are and color everything you do, read this RIGHT NOW.

I vaguely remember Fiona Apple thanking Maya Angelou for everything she’s ever written. I would like to thank Ms. Angelou, too.

A few favorite quotes (Really, though, it’s important to pay attention to every word. All of them matter.):

“My natural reticence and habit of restraint prevented me from seeking other satisfaction even if it could be found.”

“I congratulated myself on having absolutely the meanest, coldest, craziest family in the world.”

“If you haven’t been trained at home to their liking, tell them to get to stepping. Stepping. But not on you.”

“There was nothing about me to bind anyone to me in sympathy. No limp, no habit, crossed eyes or attitude of helplessness.”

Singin’ and Swingin’ and Getting’ Merry Like Christmas by Maya Angelou

This is the third book of her memoirs. She experiences more in one year than most people do in a lifetime. This is more of a fun read: Her adventures abroad and in show business. The words are still magical, perfectly picked and heavy with meaning.

Currently Reading: Ripping through Tana French’s Faithful Place.  I loved In the Woods and The Likeness and this one is proving to be just as engaging.  I’m also slogging through A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. I mostly have no idea what’s going on and there are way too many characters to keep track of, but reading about the drudgeries of everyday life during wartime wherever/whenever the fuck is pretty interesting.

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