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

Comments

Post a Comment

Thank you for talking to me!! I wish you lots of good books and brownies!

Popular posts from this blog

Best Reading from my First Semester

Ok, my only excuse for this long-ass hiatus is that I started college, and what with exams, essays, friends, newfound independence, and minor dramas, I nearly forgot I had a blog until this week.
But I'm back now, and here to tell you about the best books and stories I read during my last semester.

Novels
1. Citizen: An American Epic by Claudia Ward - A multi-media masterpiece about modern racism, with a particular focus on microaggressions.
2. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward - The story of a young girl coming of age in an impoverished area of Mississippi, on the brink of one of the great natural disasters of the last decade.
3. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison - A classic allegory of the racial justice movement in America.
4. Beloved by Toni Morrison - Possibly my favorite book ever, Beloved is based on the story of Margaret Garner, a woman who escaped slavery with her children and, when recapture seemed inevitable, killed her children to their being returned to slavery.
Shor…

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,&…

Book Review: The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

Beautiful writing and intensity of feeling were the major traits of this novel.  It is set in an abandoned Italian villa after World War II.  The villa is inhabited by a Canadian nurse, Hana, and a war patient whose entire body has been burned black.  Hana has chosen to nurse him alone rather than return home.  The patient is erudite and appears to be English.  Two other men, an Italian thief and a Sikh sapper, stumble upon and move in with them eventually.
     These five characters slowly reveal the traumas of their lives to one another.  But the most captivating story of all is that of the English patient, who narrates in bits and pieces his life in the desert and the love affair that changed it.  The speaking style of the patient is tense, intimate, and precise.  For example, while at the edge of a great loss, he "feels that everything is missing from his body, feels he contains smoke.  All that is alive is the knowledge of future desire and want" (157). This descr…