"Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now" is a delightful collection of short prose writings by Maya Angelou. Most of the mini-essays in this book are only 2 or 3 pages long, making this a good selection for those whose hectic schedules force them to do their reading in "found moments" during the day. In the book Maya reflects on various topics: spirituality, style, travel, sensuality, and being a woman. Many of the selections contain autobiographical reminiscences.
As someone who has read Angelou's book-length autobiographical narratives and poetry collections, I was fascinated to see her writing in a different mode. In "Wouldn't Take Nothing" she reflects on some of the people of her life: her son, her grandmother, her voice teacher, and others. Her musings on spirituality have an inclusive, multi-faith flavor.
Some of Angelou's observations may seem a bit obvious. For example, in the opening mini-essay she declares, "Being a woman is hard work." But what may obvious to some may be a revelation to others, and Angelou doesn't shy away from reaching out to that second group. And throughout the book her writing is graced with moments of wit and passion.
In the essay entitled "Power of the Word," Angelou writes, "I'm a spring leaf trembling in anticipation." I have no doubt that this appealing collection will leave readers trembling with anticipation for Maya Angelou's next book.
One of the most memorable stories on this audio cassette (and in the book as well) is where Maya tells what her Mama (grandmother) would do when a known-whiner would come into their general store in Stamps, Arkansas.
Mama would call for Maya, saying, "Sister, come over here." When the "whiner" came in, Mama would ask them "How are you doing?" and the whiner would launch into a lengthy complaint about the weather and work and other things.
After this whiner left the store, Mama would turn to Maya and say "Sister, nobody likes to listen to someone who whines and complains..." and she'd tell Maya that there were lots of people - black and white, rich and poor - who went to bed last night and never woke up this morning, who'd give almost anything to have one more day of work or one more day in the summer's heat.
And the summation - "Sister, if you don't like something, change it. And if you can't change it, change the way you think about it."
This is a powerful book/audio tape. And it is narrated by Maya Angelou, which makes it even more of a treasure.
I'd highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to improve the way they think about life.
on March 10, 2006
I tend to borrow books from the library and use my limited funds to purchase only those that truly help me grown in some way. This book is one of those. I bought it before I had to return the library's copy. It is a small, easy-to-read book whose simplicity belies its wisdom and power. I have harvested some of that wisdom to assist me in conveying lessons and messages to others. Most recently, I used the essay "Death and the Legacy" as a reading for meditation at my grandma's memorial last month. My reading of that powerful piece inspired my cousin to read this anthology and to ask me for more Angelou recommendations. The essay that speaks most to me, however, is "New Directions," which I use to teach a seminar to people living with HIV. It is an inspiring essay which points out that we have "the right and the responsibility" to step off paths which are not working for us. What a great message of personal accountability! This is truly a wonderful book--my favorite among many Angelou books that I love.
on October 2, 1999
1 easy chair, sofa, or bed - 1 set of comfy clothes - 1 cup of something hot - 1 rainy, lazy weekend afternoon - 1 copy of Wouldn't Take Nothing For My Journey Now - Put on comfy clothes (or stay in pajamas) - Take hot cup of cocoa, coffee, tea, etc. - Curl up with book (getting out of bed optional) - Open book and prepare to be taught, inspired, and moved by these brief, but thought-provoking, writings of Maya Angelou, who always seems to know just how to touch the spirit.
on May 14, 2003
This is my favorite of the books I've read in which Maya Angelou sits around contemplating life, though it's perhaps not the most representative of her work. For the moment she sets aside her intellectual self, her history, her issues -- anything by which you might identify her as anything but a fellow member of the human race. In this book you're left with the essential Maya -- the wise woman with the great heart and the steady mind who speaks out from timeless space. It's an easy read, and life feels better when you're done. And if you're at the end left in doubt whether she's also a world-wise and savvy intellect, then anything else she has written will put your doubts to rest.
I love Maya Angelou.
on March 5, 2001
"Swordfish: A True Story of Ambition, Savagery, and Betrayal" is the story of the largest drug bust to date. The book is very well-written, detailed, and very interesting. The book spans 1980 through 1987 in detail with the epilogue continuing through 1993. The book's characters are many and varied and range from individuals to governments. It is not a bang-bang shoot-em-up; however, there is violence and intrigue.
I recommend this book highly for the reader beyond gratuitous sex and violence.
December 22, 1980, Robert Darias, a man, despondent because he doesn't have enough money to buy Christmas presents for his children, shows up at the Miami DEA office and volunteers information on the Columbian drug connection. Carol Conner realizes the value and danger involved and immediately takes action to save his life and preserve his connection. This leads to a long, involved, multi-national, multi-level, dangerous, and deadly undercover investigation where the DEA and IRS set up a fake bank to launder the drug money. However, Darias becomes a political prize as the local DEA management fights for control so they can look good and get promoted. Then, he becomes a political prize as the FBI and DEA fight for control ... The fact that his life is on the line seems to be lost in the in-fighting. Meanwhile, in Colombia and Venezuela, the drug dealers fight among themselves. No one is safe. Then, enter the guerrillas ... Finally, arrests are made, trials are held, convictions are made and overturned, and life went on. The investigation snares politicians, bankers, politicians, judges, drug dealers, multinationals, and many in-between.
The main characters are Mr. Darias, the undercover volunteer; Carol Connor, Darias's controller; and Marlene Navarro, the main target; however, the cast of minor characters reads like a who's who of 80s news reports. One REALLY nice technique is that Mr. McClintock puts a cast of characters at the very front of the book which really helps if you lose track. Mr. McClintock's writing makes the cast of characters come alive. Since Darias is undercover, the essence of pressure of working undercover is captured. The inter-office politicking frustrates Carol Connor, Darias's control. Mr. McClintock brings out the psyche of Marlene Navarro, the target, one of the "world's deadliest criminals."
The detail is amazing and exciting. Mr. McClintock reveals the minor annoyances of listening to an unending wiretap and how the little nuances undermine the morale of the agents. The excellent trait of this book is that Mr. McClintock's careful management of detail doesn't drown the reader. If you want more detail, it is elsewhere in the book. However, the details make the book come alive.
There are many readily-identifiable names and organizations from the news: DEA, DOJ, IRS, Department of State, White House, Miami Bank of Miami, the Government of Venezuela, the Government of Colombia, M-19, Reagan, Bush, William French Smith, and on and on.
The book culminates in arrests and confiscations. It also results in the impeachment and conviction of Federal Judge Alcee Hastings [the 17th Fed judge impeached by the House since 1787; the 7th Fed judge convicted by the Senate since 1787].
If you want an exciting, detailed, involved, non-fiction read, I highly recommend "Operation: Swordfish."
Note: There is a rumor "Swordfish" is being made into a movie for release this summer. The press releases on the movie say that a major character in the movie is a computer hacker. There are no hackers in the book. Ignore the movie.
on December 10, 2014
I expect I will like the content of this book. This rating is based on price/value. Even at 1 penny
+ shipping, I expect more for $4.00 than a book that is 140 pages long, big print, an entire page used for each section title (only) and there are 24 pages so used. What follows each section is VERY brief. Yes, Maya Angelou is a woman of great intellect, experience, and wisdom but I imagine her to also be a frugal woman and this purchase was by a woman who tries to be frugal and in this case failed. I suggest that if you wish to be frugal you borrow this book or buy it used somewhere which costs less. PS--this is not a complaint about Amazon or the vendor's shipping prices--which I find reasonable. I probably should have done more research before buying. If you have not read "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" I hope you will. And I, too, mourn Maya Angelou's recent death.
on March 27, 2002
This is a very well written and thought provoking collection of life lessons. The book has no plot because there is no one story that can explain all of the things that Angelou learned about and formed opinios on. Angelou's writing is very poetic and flowing, yet at the same time meaningful and thought provoking. Each short chapter tells the reader about one message to think about or lesson to learn. Some are told as events in Maya's life and others are little stories that tell of important issues such as sexism, charity, or choices. In this book racism was not noticibly a factor in the majority of the writing, however, there are some chapters about racism in Angelou's life. The book mainly focuses on her life as a strong, bold, woman coming across difficult situations that challenge her morals. Angelou was able to fit all of the lessons she learned about in one lifetime into a short book to share with the world.