I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
This book was a long overdue read for me. I got my butt in gear after Angelou passed away. It’s a quick read, not because it is easy, but because it is engaging.
Angelou tells of her childhood, growing up some in the south, some in St Louis, some in San Francisco, with different family members each time. Unsurprisingly, it touches a lot on racial tensions, something that I never tire of hearing about – while it’s sad and sometimes disturbing, it’s an important, and still ongoing, part of our history and culture, and the stories are always similar but just different enough.
Angelou tells her story beautifully, without bitterness or anger, at least from my perspective. It’s a quiet acceptance. Yes, these things happened, but there are more important aspects of her life.
The book is often banned, presumably because of it’s depiction of her being molested as a child, though I’m sure some people cover up their issues with race by citing the sexuality.
The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson
I listened to this one, perhaps the longest audiobook I’ve done so far. It was quite a trip! It was a rough trip, as this story centers on North Korea.
I was most certainly invested in the characters, namely the main character. My stomach was in knots, worried that he would get caught, in his plans to escape the Dear Leader, along with Sun Moon and her children. I also felt sick as the interrogation tactics were described. There was a lot to take in.
I would certainly recommend this book. It’s a lot to take in – this young boy, whose mother is gone, and whose father might as well be gone too, rising up in the ranks, until he’s in a position to potentially do real damage to the regime. It’s the sort of story a war veteran would tell, something you would sit down and listen to, and never want to move, not even to go to the bathroom, until it’s done. I can see it as a movie in my head, told in flashbacks, a la Life of Pi, or Titanic.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
I’ve been wanting to read Oscar Wilde’s work for a long time. His quotes are floating around everywhere!, and he’s so clever! The problem is that I’m mostly a book girl, and this is his only novel! He writes all the other stuff – short stories/tales, plays, poems, essays – only one novel. But it’s a good ‘un!
When you stop to think about it. this story is actually crazy terrifying. Dorian Gray, this naïve youth, is illuminated as to how handsome he is, after a friend paints a portrait of him, makes some offhand wish about how cool it would be if the portrait grew old instead of his person, and of course, it comes true.
As he goes throughout life, he maintains his youthful appearance, but of course everything else changes. He becomes this unsavory man – I mean, to be blunt, he’s just a dick, he really is. And the portrait takes this all on, so his picture isn’t just showing wrinkles, but showing his true ugliness. And later on, as he commits more heinous sins, these also show in his portrait. Predictably, he comes to a bitter end, it was just a question of when and how, and boy, was I relieved when it finally happened!
It’s unsettling, in the best of ways – because I’m weird, and like books/stories that make me feel weird things. And of course, Mr. Wilde says lots of neat things in the course of the story, typically through characters’ conversations. Some of them are clever in a backwards way – he’ll say something that’s a commonly held belief, and he’ll say it in such an eloquent way, but it’s completely false, and the story will prove it so! It’s masterful. I’m glad I finally read it.