Showing posts with label autobiography. Show all posts
Showing posts with label autobiography. Show all posts

Friday, November 20, 2020

Final Non-Fiction November Pick ~ TURN UP


FYI: This book is EXPENSIVE!  I used a membership discount AND a coupon (y'all know I do those coupons)!  Oh, chile.  But I had to have it for myself. :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

WEEK TWO #NonFictionNovember ~ CLASS & CHINA

So what’s next on the #NonFictionNovember reading TBR? The image is obvious, but to walk it on down through there it goes like this…
"In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same." 
Yes, yes, yes. I’m a year late to this party. But, as I always say, when a book comes it comes at the right moment in which it needs to be one's hand (or, heck, e-reader). Which, as a given, is now about Michelle Obama's Becoming for me. I wanted to use this #NonFictionNovember to lean into inspirational memoirs/autobiographical stories. You know, to get my own inner seas a glimpse of direction. Besides, life is a recipe that takes the right amount of timing of ingredients to bring it taste. BOOOOMMMMM! Put that expression on a T-shirt, buddy. It sounds like an opening tagline for a Real Housewives of Atlanta cast member. I’m picturing Cynthia Bailey. (But did y'all see what I just did there?)
But I digress. Y’all get the gist. I'm taking on the story of one of my most classiest of classiest women ever to exist. And that twinkle of thought is only the beginning. Basically, I'm looking for more confirmation to commit to this...

"Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister is a gripping story of love, war, intrigue, bravery, glamour and betrayal, which takes us on a sweeping journey from Canton to Hawaii to New York, from exiles' quarters in Japan and Berlin to secret meeting rooms in Moscow, and from the compounds of the Communist elite in Beijing to the corridors of power in democratic Taiwan. In a group biography that is by turns intimate and epic, Jung Chang reveals the lives of three extraordinary women who helped shape twentieth-century China."

Author Jung Chang tackles China’s history in the most storytelling of fashions. And finally we have a new release (you better believe it was on my pre-orders list) from her. Chang hasn’t released a book since 2013’s Empress Dowager Cixi (CLICK HERE TO SEE MY THOUGHTS ON THAT BOOK). Now she’s back with Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister: Three Women at the Heart of Twentieth-Century China. As I said, Chang knows how to relay China's history and make it both real, fascinating and enjoyable to digest. With this book I’m particularly interested in getting into Madame Chiang Kai-shek’s story. Years ago I attempted to read a biography of her story, but also that of her surrounding sisters. Let’s just say that biography didn’t have the spell-binding gusto and finesse as a Jung Chang book. HA! Now’s my chance to go further into this fascinating woman in history. And just China's history as a whole. Considering I have a deep fascination with The Cultural Revolution–among other eras of extremeness within China's history.

Anyway, I’m off to read. How about yourself, eh?

Monday, February 11, 2019

2019 #ReadSoulLit Monday Readings & Gelato - Life is So Good by George Dawson and Richard Glaubman

"In this remarkable book, George Dawson, a slave’s grandson who learned to read at age 98 and lived to the age of 103, reflects on his life and shares valuable lessons in living, as well as a fresh, firsthand view of America during the entire sweep of the twentieth century. Richard Glaubman captures Dawson’s irresistible voice and view of the world, offering insights into humanity, history, hardships, and happiness. From segregation and civil rights, to the wars and the presidents, to defining moments in history, George Dawson’s description and assessment of the last century inspires readers with the message that has sustained him through it all: “Life is so good. I do believe it’s getting better."

Thursday, August 4, 2016

3 Moments (Among Many) Ruth Pointer's Autobiography Gave Feels

Often an autobiographer’s life story is what it is.  Aside from vague descriptions, missing stamps in its chronological makeup, and the ever so unhelpful broken grammar; what can I say about someone’s personal story at the end of the day?  I guess I could go in deep on why I’ve chosen to read an individual’s autobiography.  But in this matter there’s no fuss; I’m a fan of Ruth Pointer.  And, well, I wanted to get to know her story beyond tabloids and news bulletins of days past.  So here arrives her autobiography, Still So Excited.  

Though, given, she’s not the type of celebrity to draw that much attention to herself.  At least not beyond her and her group’s heydays during the 1980’s.  Nonetheless, I’m here–as a fan of this melodic contralto voice.  And instead of running down her story with a boring review, I wanted to share what hit me most within her journey.  It’s my way of delving into the death of her sister and band mate, June.  And on into Ruth’s upbringing, stardom, addictions, and eventual change in life.  All while playing my favorite Pointer numbers in my ear buds as I type away.

Ruth On Individuality and Authority
“My resentment of authority and those who wielded it manifested itself in different ways.  I remember the first time was when I was in third grade at Cole Elementary School.  My teacher was Mrs. Bolin, an elderly white woman who didn’t bother checking her obvious distaste for people of color at the schoolhouse door.  One day she was conducting a reading group in front of the class.  I was sitting in the back row reading a book and eating an apple when all of a sudden Mrs. Bolin charged up and yelled, ‘I said no talking!’  Then she slapped me hard in the face. 
“Turning the other check never even occurred to me.  Instead, I stood up, yelled ‘I wasn’t talking!’ and slapped her back.”

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Deserving a Re-Read? Victoria Beckham's Learning to Fly

So I was digging through my tote of older books–as in books with zero chance of acquiring some real estate on my shelves–and came across this one.  It’s been a good ten years since I read Victoria Beckham’s autobiography, Learning to Fly.  And this minor rediscovery comes begging for me to read her story again.  As in a little sooner than now.  I mean, really.  Posh Spice was and always will be my favorite Spice Girl. 


So while my R. L. Stine Fear Street series won’t find its way out of that tote any time soon, and nor will all those old middle school reads, I kind of think Posh wins the bid for a space on the shelves.

Monday, March 21, 2016

I'm So Excited | Ruth Pointer & Da Chen READS

"Still So Excited!: My Life in the Pointer Sisters offers an engaging, funny, heartbreaking, and poignant look at Ruth Pointer’s roller-coaster life in and out of the Pointer Sisters. When overnight success came to the Pointer Sisters in 1973, they all thought it was the answer to their long-held prayers. While it may have served as an introduction to the good life, it also was an introduction to the high life of limos, champagne, white glove treatment, and mountains of cocaine that were the norm in the high-flying '70s and '80s. Ruth Pointer’s devastating addictions took her to the brink of death in 1984. Ruth Pointer has bounced back to live a drug- and alcohol-free life for the past 30 years and she shares how in her first biography. Readers will learn about the Pointer Sisters’ humble beginnings, musical apprenticeship, stratospheric success, miraculous comeback, and the melodic sound that captured the hearts of millions of music fans. They will also come to understand the five most important elements in Ruth’s story: faith, family, fortitude, fame, and forgiveness."

I’m so excited.  And how appropriate for this book-receiving occasion.  First I want to bitch about how I missed singer, Ruth Pointer, releasing her autobiography in February.  Where was I!  Where!  As a strong supporter and fan of her band, The Pointer Sisters, I’m disappointed in myself.  Especially seeing how she was my favorite vocalist in the group.  She had (well, still has) that smoky, contralto voice that just throws me over.  Not familiar with it?  I’ll leave a Youtube video of the group’s song “Automatic”.  Ruth sings lead as she pulls you into the cosmic bliss of her voice.  Now let me disclaimer my enthusiasm by stating how all the sisters’ voices were different, and added something magical to their music.  Especially if you sit back and catch their three-part (at one point four) harmonies.  Which are absolutely amazing, especially for listeners like myself who love to active the conscious to pay attention to back vocals and such. Still, I suppose I’m just bias because I live for a female singer who can master the lower registers.  Maybe because it's so unique for female singers.  That dark, rich contralto tone is why Brandy (who actually shifts) is my favorite artist of my specific generation.  Ruth was definitely my favorite during her time.  Which of course the concept of "time" in music is moot.
Anyway, so yes.  Ruth was my favorite Pointer.  Going by the synopsis of her autobiography, I’m taken aback by what she’s willing to reveal.  Well, to be accurate, her story.  Now I'm familiar with her baby sister June’s drug addiction, as well as June's passing in 2006.  (From what I've read so far, Ruth's autobiography takes a brief moment to address the tragedy June faced which led to her later struggles.)  But I always saw Ruth, the eldest sister, as the responsible and forthright sister.  An illusion we tend to give any of our eldest siblings.  I myself being one.  Even so, she was in the same mess as June–using drugs and alcohol to cope with her own demons.  On the other hand, the use of drugs and alcohol were almost par for the course, given the 70's and 80's when the group took off.  Either way Ruth is revealing her struggle with addition and rise in the music industry, but with so much more in the vein of inspiration in Still So Excited!

FYI: Let me gush for a split-second and mention how my absolute favorite Pointer Sister song is "If You Wanna Get Back Your Lady."  Pure damn gold!  Do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with the song.

"When Samuel Pickens’ great love tragically loses her life, Samuel travels the globe, Annabelle always on his mind. Eventually, he comes face to face with the mirror image of his obsession in the last place he would expect, and must discover her secrets and decide how far he will go for a woman he loves. 
Da Chen immerses the reader in the world of the Chinese imperial palace, filled with ghosts and grief, where bewitching concubines, treacherous eunuchs, and fierce warlords battle for supremacy. Da takes us deeply into an epic saga of 19th century China, where one man searches for his destiny and a forbidden love."
~ Synopsis taken from Goodreads
Let me tell you.  Anytime I go to the Dollar Tree/General/Store, I make a move for the book section.  It’s usually a mess in the area, but I enjoy hunting for something new to read for a single dollar.  And that’s just what I found with Da Chen’s My Last Empress
I read Da Chen’s book, Brothers, back in 2006.  Considering it’s been awhile, all I can say is I liked the book okay.  Hard for me to remember the exact details other than two brothers in China separated at birth.  One got the privileged life, the other got a bad deal.  The twist is they both fell in love with the same girl.  Then I forgot the rest.
But no, the author’s name still sticks with me.  Which is why I grabbed this copy of My Last Empress out of an avalanche of Sudoku puzzles and paperback Westerns.  Dish washer liquid in hand, I pumped on to the register in delight.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Quoting Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

As part of my series of Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl posts, I'd like to share my favorite quotes.  These are a few of the moments a sense of truth and/or emotion struck me.  Of course, out of the many residing in the narrative itself.
So on to the favorite quotes:
This one is the opening of Chapter VI, titled The Jealous Mistress.
“I would ten thousand times rather that my children should be half-starved paupers of Ireland than to be the most pampered among the slaves of America.  I would rather drudge out my life on a cotton plantation, till the grave opened to give me rest, than to live with an unprincipled master and a jealous mistress.  The felon’s home in a penitentiary is preferable.  He may repent, and turn from the error of his ways, and so find peace; but it is not so with a favorite slave.  She is not allowed to have any pride of character.  It is deemed a crime in her to wish to be virtuous.”
Slave narratives drive a sympathetic truth, and Jacobs’ opening gave ground to hers.  In the opening quote, she compares a slave's life to other demoralizing circumstances.  And how the latter appears more suitable.  Yet, she also draws a field slave’s existence to a slave caught by the lustful attention of her master.  And for good reason.  Jacobs’ autobiography reveals that level of oppressive torment in detail.  Beginning with her awareness of her bought morals.  Which she isn't willing to give up. 
Hopelessness charges her opening, but the sincerity and intelligence of Jacobs' voice says otherwise.
Further in Chapter VI
“Reader, I draw no imaginary pictures of southern homes.  I am telling you the plain truth.  Yet when victims make their escape from this wild beast of Slavery, northerners consent to act the part of bloodhounds, and hunt the poor fugitive back into his den, ‘full of dead men’s bones, and all uncleanness.’  Nay, more, they are not only willing, but proud, to give their daughters in marriage to slaveholders.  The poor girls have romantic notions of a sunny clime, and of the flowering vines that all the year round shade a happy home.  To what disappointments are they destined!  The young wife soon learns that the husband in whose hands she has placed her happiness pays no regard to his marriage vows.  Children of every shade of complexion play with her own fair babies, and too well she knows that they are born unto him of his own household.  Jealousy and hatred enter the flowery home, and it is ravaged of its loveliness.”
It's all twisted.  The South wanted to impress Northerners on how useful and necessary slavery was.  Meanwhile, willing to put out a bounty on a runaway slave.  And one with illusions of finding asylum in the North.  Where they found themselves captured and returned by Northerners for profit.  Additionally, Northerners were sending their daughters south to marry slave owners, for the status.  And of course money.  Everyone was taking advantage of this system.  Jacobs wanted that illusion in itself to be 100% clear. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl | Part One

"In what has become a landmark of American history and literature, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl recounts the incredible but true story of Harriet Jacobs, born a slave in North Carolina in 1813. Her tale gains its importance from her descriptions, in great and painful detail, of the sexual exploitation that daily haunted her life—and the life of every other black female slave. 
As a child, Harriet Jacobs remained blissfully unaware that she was a slave until the deaths of both her mother and a benevolent mistress exposed her to a sexually predatory master, Dr. Flint. Determined to escape, she spends seven years hidden away in a garret in her grandmother’s house, three feet high at its tallest point, with almost no air or light, and with only glimpses of her children to sustain her courage. In the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, she finally wins her battle for freedom by escaping to the North in 1842. 
A powerful, unflinching portrayal of the brutality of slave life, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl stands alongside Frederick Douglass’s classic autobiographies as one of the most significant slave narratives ever written."
~ From Goodreads

I tried to think up the right approach to writing my thoughts on Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.  The multitude of topic threads available to weave seems… well… endless.  Should I even try to stretch each thread out, I don’t believe I’ll ever get anything sown.  Which will leave me further procrastinating the creation of a post.  Nonetheless, as a slave narrative/autobiography, the book takes readers through Jacob’s courageous experience growing up a slave in North Carolina.  Her intimate voice recounts years underneath the thumb of the obsessive and suffocating father of her adolescent owner.  (By rights and a will, Jacobs became the property of a young girl.)  As well as the complications she faces crafting (though severely daring and frightening) her escape to New York.  How she managed to survive her story is almost unbelievable.  Epic and mind-blowing–if you will.  I won't spoil it, but just the thought of her measures gives me phantom pains synonymous with osteoarthritis symptoms.  Still, given the era and desperation of our ancestors, I can picture and welcome such extremes clearly. 
As a slave narrative, Incidents serves the traditional makeup within this area of African-American literature.  The familiar conversations on abolitionism and humanitarianism takes much of the lead.  Followed shortly by the wind of Christian beliefs slaves shielded the violence and horror of racial oppression from.  Or attempted to, anyway.  On the same Christian token, it also give parallels to the religious hypocrisy slave owners proposed to reason with their actions.  (A disgusting thought that turns my stomach each time some slave owner attributes God’s will to shackling a race to harvest tobacco.)  Tie in the book’s footnotes illuminating historical facts/events; Incidents dances into each of the familiar slave narrative elements without missing a beat regarding its purpose.  

And yet, there’s something entirely different and unique about the book.  On the surface, it’s the story of the lengths an enslaved woman will take to hold on to her family in a world designed to rip her from them for profit.  Which is where the sympathetic edge to her slave narrative lie.  And I mention that because slave narratives’ primary focus was to create awareness, via the intimate streams of blunt and dark realities individuals faced within this grotesque system.  And Jacobs served on all fronts.
But so much aside, I really found Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl a critical and necessary read.  And one where I’d like to answer the discussion questions provided by the book in the third half of this post.  However, before, I want to add a few of my favorite quotes/passages in the second half.

PART THREE: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Discussion Questions

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