Finished Lucy: A Novel by Jamaica Kincaid for a lesson I titled “Forging an Identity: Becoming Black and Woman in America” at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania. (reviews pending)
Thoroughly enjoyed Something Like Beautiful: One Single Mother’s Story by asha bandele. You don’t have to be a single mother, mother, or even single to appreciate this story. Told with exacting prose and humility, asha delivers this text with a refined and well-honed grace and poise. Bandele is transparent and expressive in her need for personal healing as well as her fully disclosed attempts at wholeness. When I finished reading this book, I got up and hugged my youngest child tighter and longer. Ms. Bandele even retweeted my response. 🙂 Beautiful indeed!
Savored Home by Toni Morrison. Not particularly long, but still a thoughtful read. Morrison has an incredible way of wrapping the story around her characters, drawing them into the mind of the reader while simultaneously pulling the reader into the world of her characters. The passages below resonated personally with me:
On childhood freedoms, sibling relationship, and time itself:
“His father’s scolding didn’t matter because he and Cee were free to invent ways to occupy that timeless time when the world was fresh.”
Woman to woman, and as change or community agents:
“As she healed, the women changed tactics and stopped their berating…they practiced what they had been taught by their mothers during the period that rich people called the Depression and they called Life.”
Cee, alone with her strikingly resounding thoughts:
“So it was just herself. In this world with these people she wanted to be the person who would never again need rescue…she wanted to be the one who rescued her own self.”
Writer Observations & Reflections on Story, and the Passage of Time and Space:
“Perceptions alter: fields shrink as age increases; a half-hour wait is as long as a day for a child. The five rocky miles they traveled took the same two hours it had when they were children, yet then it seemed forever and far, far from home.”
The Prisoner’s Wife by asha bandele was an absolutely gorgeous read! I really enjoyed asha’s almost effortless delivery of prose and poetry. Her style is inventive, nonconforming, and unapologetic.
The few passages below showcase just a bit of what I mean:
“This is a love story, awake and alive. It’s a breathing document, a living witness. It’s human possibility, hope, and connection. It’s a gathering of Spirit, the claiming of dreams. It’s an Alvin Ailey dance, a rainbow roun’ mah shoulder. It’s a freedom song…This story is a reprieve.”
“…I would not be defined by my experiences. I would be defined by what I chose to do with my experiences, if I was open and willing, and uncompromising and honest.”
“The victim couldn’t summon up brand-new colors, spread them across the pages, make a brilliant new-age rainbow, toss it up into the sky, and let it spill royal purple raindrops onto my tongue.”
House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. Colorful, resonant, familiar and warm all at once. Inarguably, Cisneros is among one of the best storytellers.
The Broken Wings by Kahlil Gibran, Lebanese poet and writer (1883-1931), what a beautiful read! The ending is tragic, but the inspiration on Love and Life, and the evil that men do to compromise those seeking to attain it, bodes well with me against the backdrop of a love-starved world. Some of the pondering on the stations of men and women, with regards to arranged marriages, bearing children, political and religious leadership also provides some food for thought. The prose and poetry are lyrical, and reads like a beautiful song in just 128 pages.
Some of my favorite lines from The Broken Wings:
On Sincerity: “… until now I have distilled only one truth out of the whole matter, and this truth is sincerity, which makes all our deeds beautiful and honorable.”
On Women Having/Not Having Children, and the root of the perception thereof: “A barren woman is looked upon with disdain everywhere because of most men’s desire to perpetuate themselves throughout posterity.”
On Transparency: “Everything that a man does secretly in the darkness of night will be clearly revealed in daylight.”
On Remembering Me: “I want you to remember me as a merciful king remembers a prisoner who died before his pardon reached him.” Wow! (Remember Troy Davis!)
I’m creating my own literary canon so I get to decide who goes and who stays. So far, all of these made the cut. The list below is by no means exhaustive:
- Dr. Maya Angelou‘s Letter to My Daughter
- Jamaica Kincaid’s Autobiography of My Mother (see a theme here?)
- Toni Cade Bambara‘s The Black Woman: An Anthology, and The Salt Eaters
- Anything by Toni Morrison
- Paule Marshall’s Browngirl, Brownstones (I’ve read that one twice already! Very formative book for me), and The Chosen Place, The Timeless People
- Elizabeth Nunez’s Prospero’s Daughter, and Discretion