Sunday, November 09, 2008

Appreciation: Toni Morrison

All my life, I’ve been a big time reader. But there were two writers who always scared me – Alice Walker and Toni Morrison. Perhaps it was the subject matter in Walker’s “Possessing the Secret of Joy”, the creepy cover of “Beloved” or the graphic nature of “The Bluest Eye”, but for a long time, I did whatever I could to avoid their books. They were heavy.

But then, things changed. I’m not sure how or why, maybe it was my ongoing obsession with The Color Purple (I have every line memorized), that made me want to give ol’ Alice a try. I still haven’t read the book version of The Color Purple in its entirety, but I know how it differs from the movie. I think the first book of hers that I read was ‘Temple of My Familiar’. I thought it was engrossing at times, weird at others and had one part that I struggled to wrap my mind around. Still, I became a fan and started reading every Walker thing in sight. (I still haven't read 'Possessing the Secret of Joy' though)

So then I took the big step with Toni Morrison. I started with ‘Song of Solomon’ and read eagerly about Milkman Dead. Then I moved on to ‘Tar Baby’, the love story of Son and Jadine. I remember it having a very ‘heavy’ opening, but I got through the rest fairly easily. The book literally had some lines I had to read aloud, just to make sure they were as good as they sounded in my head. They were. I finished ‘Tar Baby’ only a few years ago and it was easily my favorite book. Yet when I flip through ‘Song of Solomon’ again, I’m torn between the two.

I say all of this to mention I am now reading my third Toni Morrison book, ‘Sula.’ I’m ahead of the reading schedule for my class this semester. So, while everyone is fretting over finishing Ann Petry’s ‘The Street’ (I already read it), I’m getting a head start on next week’s reading.

There are about 70 pages or so left before I finish ‘Sula,’ but it is having the same effect on me that ‘Tar Baby’ did. The cast of characters are truly memorable – I’m partial to Sula’s one legged grandmother, Eva – and her one liners are amazing. There’s one part where Eva is criticizing Sula for not having children. Sula says: “I don’t want to make somebody else. I only want to make myself.” Don’t even get me started on the part where she describes black men as “the envy of the world” because “white men spend so much time worrying about (black men’s) privates that they forget their own” and “white women think rape as soon as they see you.”
I have a feeling that this book will be on my list of favorites. When I reach the last page, I may embrace my inner Clay Davis and simply say ‘SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT.’ (That’s from The Wire, for those that didn't know)


NaySue said...

I am ashamed to say that I own Song of Solomon but haven't read it. I have read Sula, Beloved (3x & wrote a paper), The Bluest Eye, and Tar Baby (wrote a paper too), but outside of Pecola (or is it Peola), I can't remember a darn thing about any of these books.

I really enjoyed the film version of Beloved. I know some people have their negative views, but I still thought it was well done. I even believe that watching the movie before reading the book for the first time actually assisted in my understanding. You know how Toni gets with her writing.

Another thing about Toni Morrison is that she is not to be read once. You have to read her books several times to pick up on everything--and even then you'll still miss a bunch of stuff. said...

Hello there!

Thank you so much for writing about Ms. Morrison!!


{thumbs up}


P.S. Please feel free to stop by my spot any time and share whenever you'd like to!!

Cami said...

LOL at the Clay Davis reference! And I too love some Toni. Bluest Eye is my favorite book of all time. I don't think I've read Sula. Let me know how it turns out.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for the post about Toni Morrison. I love Sula and The Bluest Eye. Sula was something elsse, but she got it honestly from her grandmother and mother. "The Peace women loved men."

I just picked up her new book, A Mercy. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Tha L said...

Awww...I really miss The Wire! That was my shiznit!! Wish I could read anything other than schoolbooks right now, but soon enough, I guess.