Posted in Short Stories

Maya Angelou: Steady Going Up

Deal Me In 2021 – Week 48

Robert sat down in his seat. ‘Yes’m. I’m sorry. I didn’t have time to get you a Dr. Pepper.’

Robert rides a bus from Memphis to Cincinnati to see his sister in Maya Angelou’s story “Steady Going Up”. He sits in the back where he’s required to sit.

Something about the way Angelou writes this story gives the impression that she is playing with toy figurines that she moves around to tell the story. As strange as it sounds, it works giving the relationship between the characters a detached feeling. Given that nobody knows anyone on this bus trip, it makes sense.

The elderly lady that sits near Robert comes the closest to developing a “bond” between herself and Robert. When he tells her he didn’t have time to get her a Dr. Pepper, it’s kind of a brilliant understatement given the encounter Robert has with two white men during a stop.

This is a story that grew on me after I read it.

This story is included in Black American Short Stories: A Century of the Best edited by John Henrick Clarke. I read it for Week 48 of my Deal Me In 2021 short story project. Check out my Deal Me In list here. Deal Me In is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.

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