Friday, October 09, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: "Life Beyond Measure" by Sidney Poitier

BOOK REVIEW: "Life Beyond Measure" by Sidney Poitier (2008)

I was browsing through The American University in Cairo (AUC) Faculty Lounge Library and came across this book. I thought, 'why not read this'? I like Sidney Poitier from what I know about him. He's made some incredible movies and it seems he's had an extraordinary life.

I only sort of liked the book. The subtitle is "Letters to My Great-Granddaughter". He sort of talks about his life in a peripheral way. He talks the most about this childhood and his parents, but he gives lots of advice. He also talks about his position on God and religion as well as the environment. I was a bit disinterested in some of that information.

I was prepared to read about how he landed his first acting role (which he mentions, but does not really elaborate on). He also just briefly talks about other actors like James Baldwin and Paul Robeson. But his remarks only hint at what life was like for them in their hey day. I was really hoping for details; details of what it was like to work with Bill Cosby in "Uptown Saturday Night", "Let's Do It Again" and "A Piece of the Action" ... because we all love a good blaxploitation film, right?

The tales of his growing up on Cat Island in the Bahamas were filled w/the details that I did not get about his adult life. He talks intimately about his siblings as well as when he began to get into some mischief as a teenager. But he left me asking many questions. For example, he moved from the Bahamas to Miami as a teen. He was not in Miami very long, but he does not go into detail as to why he left Miami rather quickly and headed for New York.

Poitier does go into some detail about his transition to New York, probably because New York was such a drastically different landscape than what he was used to. He talks about the cold winters as well and the numerous dishwashing jobs that he had. He eventually enlisted in the Army. Then made great haste to get out. Again, he does not talk much about what his life was like for that one year in the service.

There are several pages of pictures of Poitier at various milestones in his life. He's beyond 80 years old now. Amazing. It seems as if he's had such a fulfilling life. I'm sure that he has. I just did not get a glimpse into his life as I thought I would by reading "Life Beyond Measure".

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