Skip to main content

Book Review: All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes by Maya Angelou


     I just realized that I'm reading Maya Angelou's autobiographies WAY out of order.  I read the first one, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, last summer, and this summer I read the fifth one.  I am not reading them out of order on purpose.  I happened upon both books by chance (I found Traveling Shoes at a secondhand bookstore in Cincinnati) and bought them with no knowledge of the series' sequence.  Luckily, I was able to enjoy this book despite my ignorance.
     This book was most interesting for its exploration of the yearning of some African-Americans to return to Africa in the 60s'.  Over the course of the book, Angelou creates a life in Ghana and struggles with her suspicion that slavery has left African-Americans without a home country: they are oppressed in the United States and out of place in Africa.  She desperately wants to feel at home in Ghana, but because of the centuries of separation and abuse that her ancestors endured, Ghanaian culture does not feel like her own.
     I was fascinated and moved by the serious subject matter of this book, but I enjoyed it for other reasons as well.  The interactions of the American expats (the "Revolutionist Returnees") in Ghana are often darkly funny, Angelou's relationship with the Malian cattle baron Sheikhali is spicy and symbolic, her reaction to her son's desire for autonomy is honest, and her description of Malcolm X's visit to Ghana is exciting and warm.  
     Apart from a few instances of lazy/easy writing (I know, I know, I'm blaspheming!), I loved this book.

     - Carly

Popular posts from this blog

Best Reading from my Third Semester

Once again, this semester's schoolwork took precedence over this blog.  It had to happen, but now I'm back to let you all know about the wonderful books I read in my classes.
     On an unrelated note, feel free to add me on LinkedIn!  I made an account but I only have four connections so far, it's very sad.

Novels
1. Cane by Jean Toomer - A gorgeous genre-blending novel which describes the lives of black people in rural Georgia in the early twentieth century.

2. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston - The greatest self-love story of all time.

3. Passing by Nella Larson - A novel which examines the complex friendship between two wealthy black women, one of whom passes for white.

4. Smoke, Lilies and Jade, a Novel by Richard Bruce - A semi-autobiographical, experimental text peppered with ellipses and the names of great Harlem Renaissance artists.

Short Stories
1. "The Closing Door" by Angeline Grimke - This story demonstrates with intimate, hea…

Book Review: The Spanish American Short Story, edited by Seymour Menton

I love the cover of this book.  Look closely - it's a little skeleton man clasping his hands over a cup of black coffee.  I don't know what it means, but it's delightful.      Anyway, I read this collection of short stories in Spanish - El cuento hispanoamericano - for a class I am taking this semester, but it is also available in English.  According to my professor, it's a unique book in that it offers the best representation of Latin American short stories throughout modern history, with details about literary movements and authors as well.  I liked some stories better than others - "The Tree" by Maria Luisa Bombal and "The Ruby" by Ruben Dario were my favorites - but even the ones I disliked, such as "Secret Love" by Manuel Payno, were included because they were representative of a certain movement or regional style that was worth acknowledging.        My only issue with this book is that a story I just mentioned, "The Tree,&…

Review: God Help the Child by Toni Morrison

I read this book courtesy of my friend Shanille, who purchased it for a class on the novels of Toni Morrison (!!!) and lent it to me when she was done.  Thank you girl!
     As usual, this book did not disappoint.  It is about a beautiful, successful, dark-skinned woman named Bride who sets out on a journey to confront an ex-lover, and by extension the many traumas she has experienced both as a child and an adult on account of other people's perceptions of her skin color.  
     My favorite aspect of the story is its characters, because they are drawn in such precise and lush detail.  Bride, for example, has constructed her outward appearance in order to thriveFor example, she goes by 'Bride' rather than her given name, Lula Ann Bridewell, and exclusively wears white clothing, in accordance with the advice of a lifestyle consultant.  At one point, she refers to herself as "The [woman] driving a Jaguar in an oyster-white cashmere dress and boots of brushed…