cover image Even the Stars Look Lonesome

Even the Stars Look Lonesome

Maya Angelou. Random House Inc, $18 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-375-50031-2

As in Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now, famed poet and author Angelou (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings) casts a keen eye inward and bares her soul in a slim volume of personal essays. This collection is narrower in scope than Angelou's earlier book and the sense of racial pride is stronger, more compelling. But all of her opinions are deeply rooted and most are conveyed with a combination of humility, personable intelligence and wit. Like a modern-day Kahlil Gibran, Angelou offers insights on a wide range of topics--Africa, aging, self-reflection, independence and the importance of understanding both the historical truth of the African American experience and the art that truth inspired. Women are a recurrent topic, and in ""A Song to Sensuality,"" she writes of the misconceptions the young (her younger self included) have of aging. ""They Came to Stay"" is a particularly inspirational piece paying homage to black women: ""Precious jewels all."" Even Oprah Winfrey (to whom the previous collection was dedicated) serves as subject matter and is likened to ""the desperate traveler who teaches us the most profound lesson and affords us the most exquisite thrills."" In her final essay, Angelou uses the story of the prodigal son to remind readers of the value of solitude: ""In the silence we listen to ourselves. Then we ask questions of ourselves. We describe ourselves to ourselves, and in the quietude we may even hear the voice of God."" 300,000 first printing; author tour. (Sept.)