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A Song Flung Up to Heaven

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The culmination of a unique achievement in modern American literature: the six volumes of autobiography that began more than thirty years ago with the appearance of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

A Song Flung Up to Heaven opens as Maya Angelou returns from Africa to the United States to work with Malcolm X. But first she has to journey to California to be reunited with her mother and brother. No sooner does she arrive there than she learns that Malcolm X has been assassinated.

Devastated, she tries to put her life back together, working on the stage in local theaters and even conducting a door-to-door survey in Watts. Then Watts explodes in violence, a riot she describes firsthand.

Subsequently, on a trip to New York, she meets Martin Luther King, Jr., who asks her to become his coordinator in the North, and she visits black churches all over America to help support King’s Poor People’s March.

But once again tragedy strikes. King is assassinated, and this time Angelou completely withdraws from the world, unable to deal with this horrible event. Finally, James Baldwin forces her out of isolation and insists that she accompany him to a dinner party—where the idea for writing I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is born. In fact, A Song Flung Up to Heavenends as Maya Angelou begins to write the first sentences of Caged Bird.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 04, 2002 – Angelou left Ghana in 1964 to join Malcolm X in building the Organization of African-American Unity, and, in 1968, prepared to leave New York City to work with Martin Luther King Jr. Two calamitous events the assassinations of both frame this brief memoir, a sort of coda to Angelou's monumental serial autobiographies. The ghost of one leader and the foreshadowing of the death of the other lend depth to wanderings that in other hands would be mere meanderings. The four-year period she writes about here is filled with information about which readers might care little but the mere fact that it's written by this icon makes it important. At times, the name-dropping overwhelms ("Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach had moved from Columbus Avenue to Central Park West."), but her gracious spirit prevails. For those unfamiliar with it, Angelou's own story is deftly sketched. She recollects her attachment to her family mother, brother, son and her detachment from her husband with fondness and wryness, and briefly spotlights her various jobs, from polling housewives in Watts, Calif., to nightclub singing in Hawaii. Though satisfying, this sometimes flat account lacks the spiritual tone of Angelou's essays, the openness of her poetry and the drama of her other autobiographies. Soon after her return to the U.S. in the late 1960s, Angelou found herself with "no room in which I could consider my present and my past." This period of her life ended as Angelou embarked on her classic I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings; the rest is literary history.
A Song Flung Up to Heaven
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Apr 02, 2002
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 224 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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