Synopses & Reviews
In this third self-contained volume of her autobiography, which began with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou moves into the adult world, and the white world as well, as she marries, enters show business, and tours Europe and Africa in Porgy and Bess.
As the book opens, Maya, in order to support herself and her young son, gets a job in a record shop run by a white woman. Suspicious of almost any kindness shown her, she is particularly confused by the special attentions of a young white customer. Soon the relationship grows into love and then marriage, and Maya believes a permanent relationship is finally possible. But it is not to be, and she is again forced to look for work.
This time she finds a job as a dancer in a sleazy San Francisco bar. Her remarkable talent, however, soon brings her attention of a different kind, and before long she is singing in one of the most popular nightclubs on the coast. From there, she is called to New York to join the cast of Porgy and Bess, which is just about to begin another tour abroad.
The troupe's joyous and dramatic adventure through Italy, France, Greece, Yugoslavia, and Egypt becomes the centerpiece of Singin' and Swingin'. This remarkable portrayal of one of the most exciting and talented casts ever put together, and of the encounters between these larger-than-life personalities and audiences who had rarely seen black people before, makes a hilarious and poignant story. The excitement of the journey -- full of camaraderie, love affairs, and memorable personalities -- is dampened only by Maya's nagging guilt that she has once again abandoned the person she loves most in life, her son.
Back home, and driven close to suicide by her guilt and concern, she takes her son with her to Hawaii, where she discovers that devotion and love, in spite of forced absence, have the power to heal and sustain.
As always, Maya Angelou's writing is charged with that remarkable sense of life and love and unique celebration of the human condition that have won her such a loyal following.
About the Author
Maya Angelou has written five volumes of autobiography, including the bestselling I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and many collections of poetry, as well as "On the Pulse of Morning," the poem she read at the inauguration of President William Jefferson Clinton in 1993. All of her poems have been gathered together in The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou. Maya Angelou is currently Reynolds Professor at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Reading Group Guide
Memoirist, novelist, poet, and dramatist, Maya Angelou is one of the best-loved writers of our time. She is widely acclaimed for her searing, inspiring writings--and she has been praised for confronting both the racial and sexual pressures on black women, and for infusing her work with a perspective on larger social and political movements, including civil rights.
In the volumes of her bestselling personal story--one of the most remarkable narratives ever shared--Maya Angelou writes about the struggles and triumphs of her extraordinary life with candor, humor, poignancy, and grace. These include:I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
The classic autobiography of her young years.Gather Together In My Name
The coming-of-age story of her struggle for survival as a young unwed mother. Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas
The saga of her show business career, her failed marriage, and her early motherhood.The Heart of a Woman
The turbulent story of her emergence as a writer and a political activist.Wouldn't Take Nothing For My Journey Now
Her exhilarating collection of wisdom, spirituality, and life lessons.
1. If I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is about self-discovery, and Gather Together in My Name is about self-reliance, what theme would you derive from Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas?
2. What is the significance of the author discarding the nicknames "Ritie", "Sugar", and "Rita"?
3. On her travels around the world and throughout the book, what does Maya learn about prejudice and tolerance?
4. How would you characterize Guy? In what ways are he and his mother alike? How do they differ?