In addition to being one of the most popular living playwrights in America, Pearl Cleage is a bestselling author with an Oprah Book Club pick and multiple awards to her credit, but there was a time when such stellar success seemed like a dream. Read more...
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In addition to being one of the most popular living playwrights in America, Pearl Cleage is a bestselling author with an Oprah Book Club pick and multiple awards to her credit, but there was a time when such stellar success seemed like a dream. In this revelatory and deeply personal work, Cleage takes readers back to the 1970s and 80s, retracing her struggles to hone her craft amid personal and professional tumult.
Though born and raised in Detroit, it was in Atlanta that Cleage encountered the forces that would most shape her experience. At the time, married to Michael Lomax, now head of the United Negro College Fund, she worked with Maynard Jackson, Atlanta s first African-American mayor. "Things I Should Have Told My Daughter "charts not only the political fights but also the pull she began to feel on her own passions a pull that led her away from Lomax as she grappled with ideas of feminism and self-fulfillment. This fascinating memoir follows her journey from a columnist for a local weekly to a playwright and Hollywood scriptwriter whose circle came to include luminaries Richard Pryor, Avery Brooks, Phylicia Rashad, Shirley Franklin, and Jesse Jackson.
In the tradition of giants such as Susan Sontag, Joan Didion, Nora Ephron, and Maya Angelou, Cleage s self-portrait raises women s confessional writing to the level of fine literature."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-02-10
- Reviewer: Staff
A sampling of playwright and novelist Cleage’s (What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day) journal entries over 20 years, from 1970 to 1990, as a young journalist, feminist, Civil Rights activist, wife, and mother delineates a long, difficult journey toward self-realization. A student at Spellman College in Atlanta, involved in SNCC meetings and civil rights organizations with her politician husband-to-be. Michael Lomax, Cleage embarked on her journal as race relations were splitting apart the country. Yearning to be a writer, chafing at the constraints of having to ply her way as a journalist, and resentful of the chauvinistic attitudes of men (reading The Feminist Mystique she recognized that, in terms of hiding real issues, “Men have done almost as good a job as white folks”), Cleage tried overall to be true to the ideals she envisioned for herself in her youth. She worked for the election of Maynard Jackson, the first African-American mayor of Atlanta; then got pregnant by the beginning of 1974, prompting many months of fretting about motherhood. Between Maynard’s and her husband’s campaigns, Cleage began to write in earnest in the late 1970s, often working as an itinerant screenwriter, recording her literary findings, and grappling constantly with how to be a sexual being in a committed relationship—thorny questions that led her to leave her marriage and embark on a series of affairs with married men in the 1980s. By turns frank, and wide-eyed, Cleage’s entries reflect a fulsome, tender spirit, hungry for authentic experience, eager for love. (Apr.)