February 20, 2016
Musician Charles Wright is best known for his 1970 song, "Express Yourself"...and he's taken his own advice in writing his memoir, Up: From Where We've Come
Although I must disclose that I received a complimentary electronic copy for review, I'm glad I took on the assignment, because Up From Where We've Come is one of the best memoirs I've read in awhile.
First, I enjoy reading about the small, more personal takes on history, and this is where Up From Where We've Come shines. Wright structured his book as a series of small vignettes, but these vignettes craft a very intricate portrait. Starting from his experiences of something that happened before he was born to his family's move to California, Wright explores his experiences as a child in the deep South.
While discussing his youthful experiences, Wright doesn't pull punches. For those seeking a smaller, more intimate exploration of the African-American experience, Wright shares in a direct, honest way. Up From Where We've Come has several stories where heartbreak and pain are prevalent. (There's a scene involving Wright, his brother, and a turtle that will soften even the hardest of hearts). Even when describing experiencing racism in the South, Wright provides a matter-of-fact tone that neither condones nor condemns.
But much of Up From Where We've Come is a sheer joy to read. Wright gives his tale warmth, humor, and refreshing surprises. (Like an introduction by Little Richard). Up From Where We've Come is one of the best things I've read this year, and is definitely worth reading.
Up From Where We've Come is supposed to be the first volume in a series of memoirs by Charles Wright....and I'm looking forward to the next volume.