Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Review: What Happened, Miss Simone?: A Biography by Alan Light



Review: What Happened, Miss Simone?: A Biography
Alan Light
Crown Archetype
2016

Nina Simone.  For some nothing more needs to be said.  For others, like me, this biography opens the way to the part of life we missed somewhere along the way.  If you came of age in the 1960’s you might have missed a significant person of interest, Eunice Kathleen Waymon, otherwise known as Nina Simone.  

Light follows her life from her humble beginnings to her final moments in his biography which the cover says was inspired by “the acclaimed Netflix documentary.”  The quote from Maya Angelou that opens this book sums up what happened throughout Simone’s life.  Angleou sees Simone’s “loneliness…, so little tenderness…, and …a commitment to the battle of Life…”.   That says it all.  Light fills in the details.

After about the third repeat of Simone’s cyclic life pattern I gave up on a majority of the text and skipped to the final chapter.  Her life like so many others before and after her shows the down side of fame, wealth, and the unfulfilled desire for lasting intimacy or love.  Her personal habits and attitudes fluctuate and finally make her nearly unapproachable for a large portion of her life.  A very sad story, but one that seems to surround so many of the very talented people in many fields.

Do I recommend this book?  Yes, and no.  It is well written, but the life he chose to cover while important in many ways is so difficult to watch unfold that I quit reading it.  If it could serve to help those today that are so involved in human rights issues to find a different path it’d be great.  I suspect given the history of many, that it will not serve as any kind of warning.  So read it if you like, but don’t expect a happy story. 

I received this book from the publisher in return for a review.

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