Celebration was a hit! It's homey and can accommodate large groups well. Though the prices on their fancy Southern entrées were a bit high, each main dish comes with 3 unlimited sides for the table. To boot, you can get free second helpings of the main dishes as well. We certainly had a food fest and even splurged for peach cobbler afterwards. It was a pleasant way to end our year of 22 books together.
It's difficult to critize Gather Together's story because it is all actually true, and these crazy things happened to Angelou in her late teens. Though a few of the events and her descriptions are uproariously funny, if I had to name my predominant feeling throughout this book it would be concern for the spur-of-the-moment life choices she made for herself and her small son at that time.
I won't give away any details here, but suffice it to say that after reading this you will not be able to see Maya Angelou as the sweet, serene elderly woman you may be accustomed to. She hits some low lows in this book. Kristen, Megan, and Natalie shared my feelings with this one. Perhaps, beyond the tumultuous events, Angelou could have spent more time on the characters in her family and transitions between locations. However, since this is building on her first memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Megan says this book is amazing), these characters may have been already set up.
You had to be very careful in speaking to whites, and especially white men. My mother said that when a white man sees your teeth he thinks he sees your underclothes.
During this time when my life hinged melodramatically on intrugue and deceit, I discovered the Russian writers. One title caught my eye. Not because I felt guilty raking in money from the doings of prostitutes but because of the title's perfect balance. Life, as far as I had deduced it, was a series of opposites: black/white, up/down, life/death, rich/poor, love/hate, happy/sad, and no mitigating areas in between. It followed Crime/Punishment.
There is a much-loved region in the American fantasy where pale white women float eternally under black magnolia trees, and white men with soft hands brush wisps of wisteria from the creamy shoulders of their lady loves. Harmonious black music drifts like perfume through this precious air, and nothing of a threatening nature intrudes. The South I returned to, however, was flesh-real and swollen-belly poor.
And he melted into the darker darkness.
His face was no wider than my outstretched hand, and the usual rich brown color was dusty like an old chocolate bar exposed to the light. A smile struggled free and limped across his lips.