When the Music Stopped: Discovering My Mother

SUNY Press
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This is the story of one woman’s decision to forfeit a brilliant career for the sake of motherhood. Once a child prodigy, Gitta Gradova traveled the world as an internationally acclaimed concert pianist, performing recitals as well as appearing with prominent orchestras of her era. Her son Thomas J. Cottle uses written records, interviews, and personal reminiscence to reconstruct her life, as well as their own mother-son relationship. He is at times a storyteller, at times a psychologist, at times a son seeking to uncover those aspects of his mother’s life he could never know, or perhaps, chose not to know until it was too late.
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About the author

A clinical psychologist and sociologist, Thomas J. Cottle is Professor of Education at Boston University. The author of thirty books, published in several languages, including At Peril: Stories of Injustice and A Sense of Self: The Work of Affirmation, his articles have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, and the New Republic, as well as the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the London Times, Chicago Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Feb 29, 2012
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Pages
296
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ISBN
9780791485545
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Composers & Musicians
Biography & Autobiography / Social Scientists & Psychologists
Family & Relationships / Parenting / Parent & Adult Child
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A moving memoir about the legendary author’s relationship with her own mother.

Emma Watson’s Our Shared Shelf Book Club Pick!

The story of Maya Angelou’s extraordinary life has been chronicled in her multiple bestselling autobiographies. But now, at last, the legendary author shares the deepest personal story of her life: her relationship with her mother.

For the first time, Angelou reveals the triumphs and struggles of being the daughter of Vivian Baxter, an indomitable spirit whose petite size belied her larger-than-life presence—a presence absent during much of Angelou’s early life. When her marriage began to crumble, Vivian famously sent three-year-old Maya and her older brother away from their California home to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. The subsequent feelings of abandonment stayed with Angelou for years, but their reunion, a decade later, began a story that has never before been told. In Mom & Me & Mom, Angelou dramatizes her years reconciling with the mother she preferred to simply call “Lady,” revealing the profound moments that shifted the balance of love and respect between them.

Delving into one of her life’s most rich, rewarding, and fraught relationships, Mom & Me & Mom explores the healing and love that evolved between the two women over the course of their lives, the love that fostered Maya Angelou’s rise from immeasurable depths to reach impossible heights.

Praise for Mom & Me & Mom

“Mom & Me & Mom is delivered with Angelou’s trademark good humor and fierce optimism. If any resentments linger between these lines, if lives are partially revealed without all the bitter details exposed, well, that is part of Angelou’s forgiving design. As an account of reconciliation, this little book is just revealing enough, and pretty irresistible.”—The Washington Post

“Moving . . . a remarkable portrait of two courageous souls.”—People

“[The] latest, and most potent, of her serial autobiographies . . . [a] tough-minded, tenderhearted addition to Angelou’s spectacular canon.”—Elle

“Mesmerizing . . . Angelou has a way with words that can still dazzle us, and with her mother as a subject, Angelou has a near-perfect muse and mystery woman.”—Essence
Against the backdrop of a robust economy, hundreds of thousands of people in this country remain out of work for long periods of time, causing economic and psychological hardships for entire families. Hardest Times examines in depth what happens to men, and to their families, when they remain out of work for longer than six months, a period the government designates as long term unemployment. Cottle examines long term unemployment as a traumatic event, which creates in those who experience it conditions resembling symptoms of loss and post-trauma. Through the words of men who have experienced long term unemployment, he demonstrates that work is crucial to the formation of a man's identity, and that without work, many men often find no purpose for living. The in-depth studies that Cottle undertook reveal here why some men abandon their families or, in some instances, are driven to commit murder or suicide in the face of lingering unemployment. These often heart wrenching stories encourage readers to consider the implications of long term unemployment for the men who experience it, the families who endure it, and the society that tolerates it.

Cottle's approach demonstrates that unemployment cannot be examined strictly in statistical terms, but that ultimately it must be explored in human terms, for it affects both the unemployed worker and his family. Instead of treating long term unemployment as simply another social problem, Cottle argues that it must be treated as a serious, often life-threatening, disorder, whose cure is clearly discernible. By reading the words of these men, the reader will understand how, even in this time of shifting gender roles, men in large measure still define themselves by the work they do, rather than the relationships that they cultivate. This unique approach to the problem of long term unemployment gives a human face to the problem and encourages readers to rethink the nature of working and not working and its special importance to men.

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