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April 20, 2002
Why Wanda?

I've been meaning to get to this. What better time than just after a Dodger game when we beat the Padres 5-2. It was a good one. I digress as I attempt to digest the mix of Dodger dog and nachos through my convoluted, and confused system...

Wanda Coleman, one of my favorite tres L.A. writers, pans Maya Angelou's latest (and perhaps last?) installment of her semi-autobiographical series. The new book is titled A Song Flung up to Heaven and in the book review section of the LAT, the article is titled "Coulda Shoulda Woulda". Coleman, who is a fantastic writer, slings some mud on Angelou and criticizes her for getting names and dates confused. Just for the record, Maya Angelou is seventy four years old! I've read the whole series, minus the most recent installment and for some reason Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas stands out for me because of the excellent title. They are all tremendous. It's been quite a while since I read the books, but I do recall in All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes Angelou claims to have a jacked up Billie Holiday show up at her apartment.

Coleman's review simply made me want to read the damn book for myself. It seemed to me that Coleman did not want to like this book, does not like autobiographies or simply wants Angelou to step down as the reigning queen of African-american women writers. I am very doubtful she wrote the book out of greed as Coleman insinuates, "It might be assumed that Angelou would take her honorary doctoral degrees, make a graceful bow and retire from the literary round table with celebrated reputation intact. Alas, a dignified departure is not the trait of the greedy when one more traipse to the trough is offered."


I love autobiographies and biographies in general. Authorized or unauthorized, I go crazy for them like bad t.v. or any other sickly indulgence. Now, I don't make them the staple of my diet or anything. Neither do I confuse them with primary documents nor trust one scrumptious and often ludicrous word.

The most ridiculous and memorable autobio that I love to recommend is Cookie Mueller's Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black. Mueller, among a million other things, worked with John Waters and also wrote a column for the East Village Eye.

Mueller is everywhere at the tipping point in counter-cultural history and on the cutting edge of every great movement. She is in SF during the Haight/Ashbury days where she almost becomes part of the Manson family while she sleeps with Jimi Hendrix on her way to see the Dead in Golden Gate Park. I think that is just the first chapter. A veritable Forrest Gump sitting beside the notorious Divine. Mueller manages to burn down a friend's house, save people from ODing and raise a child while her crazy life swirls around them. A fantastic ride, her writing is hilarious and engaging. You almost believe her.

So, I'll get back to you after I read Angelou's latest. I think something flew up Wanda Coleman's butt which is too bad because I was just getting to know her.

Posted by Molli at April 20, 2002 12:31 AM







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