Staring Unflinchingly Into The Abyss Of Slavery, This Spellbinding Novel Transforms History Into A Story As Powerful As Exodus And As Intimate As A Lullaby Sethe Was Born A Slave And Escaped To Ohio, But Eighteen Years Later She Is Still Not Free She Has Too Many Memories Of Sweet Home, The Beautiful Farm Where So Many Hideous Things Happened Her New Home Is Haunted By The Ghost Of Her Baby, Who Died Nameless And Whose Tombstone Is Engraved With A Single Word Beloved Filled With Bitter Poetry And Suspense As Taut As A Rope, Beloved Is A Towering Achievement By Nobel Prize Laureate Toni Morrison This is one of those rare and beautiful books that begins as if it s written in a code you have to crack You have the sense early on that you ve missed some vital shred of information and it s these perceived black holes that engage your attention on an ever deepening level As is the case in the best detective novels maddening clues needed to complete knowledge are scattered deftly at every turn The past is a constant illuminating presence in every present moment Beloved exploits brilliantly so many of the possibilities the novel offers as an art form And Morrison has an ingenious control of her difficult material throughout Beloved is historical fiction, probably the best ghost story ever written along with Wuthering Heights, it has elements of playful magical realism but it s also a raging righteous social document it s an exciting detective story, a rich and character strong family saga and a moving grown up romance Rare to encounter a novel written with so much heart combined with masterful artistry. Beloved is the Great American Horror Novel Sorry Stephen King evil clowns and alcoholic would be writers are pretty creepy, but they just got nothing on the terrifying specter of American slavery I literally got chills physical chills over and over while reading this book To me, great horror has the scary element e.g., a ghost and then, lurking behind it, something so vast and evil that trying to think about it can make you go insane Beloved did that It worked as horror And then also, even , it worked as great American literature I don t think in these terms too often, but it does seem like there s such a thing as national novels I m sure there s a better, fancier way to talk about what I mean, which is books that are so specifically about The American Experience that being an American reading them feels very special and intimate, as if it s a book about my own family That feels like a strange and dorky thing for me to say, but it s how I felt Slavery is such an essential part of all our heritage that reading this treatment of it felt very personal, like listening to secrets about your grandparents Beloved really worked on something at the heart of the American experience, and while I don t usually think in those terms this book forced me to, which is one of many reasons why it did affect me so much.I feel like Morrison has a certain reputation and associations that are completely at odds with what her work is actually like Maybe it s the Toni with an i thing it s definitely the Oprah connection and the fact that she s a lady author, but whatever the reasons, I feel like people who haven t read her believe that Morrison writes these lovely, lyrical, ladylike books that will soften the heart and elevate the soul and I mean, I guess in a way she does, but these lovely books will give you seriously deranged nightmares Toni Morrison is out of her MIND I mean, she really must be in order to write these things I can t imagine what it would be like to have this incredibly twisted stuff come out of my brain Of course, the most horrific parts of the book aren t invented Morrison clearly spent a lot of time researching the historical record of slavery and thinking about its effects and meaning, and her ability to wrest a novel like this out of that past is just incomprehensible because in fact Beloved really is lovely and lyrical, but it s about the most disturbing shit imaginable It s interesting to see how divided people on this site are about Morrison A lot of people just LOATHE her I think that s pretty understandable when you consider her subject matter Some girl on here was like, UGH Beastiality, rape, torture, infanticide Toni Morrison is DISGUSTING And I mean, well, that girl s got a point, this book was pretty icky but it s about kind of an icky topic, ya know In a weird way, this felt a bit like the anti Proust it s about memory, but instead of being a plotless, enchanting, European meander through a picturesque past, Beloved is a brutal and ruthless American cousin with rough, bloody hands, running through the woods screaming The book is about the problem of memory, specifically the memory of trauma, both on a personal and national level I feel like everyone always wants to write these great books about the most terrible shit, but the fact is that doing so right is incredibly hard, which is maybe why there re so many bad books about tragedy and so many good books about boring people s mundane little problems You really have to know what you re doing to write about the most terrible shit well, and Morrison picked THE most terrible shit in America s past, then wrote an original and organic ghost story that deserves its hallowed place in American literature Ya know, one thing we think about in social work school or that I thought about, anyway is the relationship between macro events or phenomena e.g., a war, or racism and its micro effects on individuals This book depicts the effects of slavery on people individually and collectively with, just, well, shattering genius But don t try this at home, folks She is a lady of unusual talent and skills, and in most people s clumsy hands this effort d be dangerous Beloved isn t flawless, and it s not one of my all time favorite books or anything However, it is a great classic, and I think everyone who hasn t already should read it well, actually, let me amend that A lot of people on here, as noted, hate this book If you struggle to follow a slightly nonlinear narrative or are white and feel personally affronted by descriptions of historical wrongs perpetrated by white people on black people, you might chose another book club selection Everyone else, though, I think should give this a go, especially if you love ghost stories P.S I just had a really fun idea for a literary double date, which would be Cathy from Wuthering Heights with Beloved, and Medea with Sethe They could all go on the Oprah show together and talk about their traumatic experiences I would definitely, definitely watch that, and I bet other people would too. BelovedYou are my sisterYou are my daughterYou are my face you are meI have found you again you have come back to meYou are my belovedYou are mineYou are mineIt s 6 o clock in the morning and I have finished with one of the best books I have ever read in the course of my short life I am sleepless and I need a moment to organize my thoughts, sort out my feelings Come back to real life But I can t.A part of me is still with Sethe and her daughters, Denver and Beloved at 124 A part of me is being tied to a pole and whipped mercilessly for eating a shoat I skinned, butchered and cooked myself A part of me is giving birth to children of fathers who forced themselves on me A part of me is still wondering whether my husband Halle is out there alive and free or long dead A part of me is burying the daughter I killed with a handsaw because I couldn t live to see her being pushed into the endless abyss of torture and humiliation that I had to endure myself A part of me is engraving the wordBelovedon the headstone of my dead girl, because she has no name But it is not I It is Sethe and Sethe is not I.I m not even Baby Suggs Sethe s mother in law who never had a chance to recognize that she was a human being with a beating heart Baby Suggs, who only looked at her own hands at the sunset of life and came to the realization that they were her own Her very own for her own use and not the use of another Baby Suggs, who was forced to accept the kindness of being bought out of slave labour by her own son, at the cost of never seeing him again, never knowing what happened to him.I m not Paul D, being made to wear neck braces as punishment for an act of belligerence, unable to move his head Deeply afraid of starting a new life and adding a purpose to it not knowing what to do with the new found freedom after the Civil War Afraid of loving too much and losing too much because of it.I m just a lucky Indian girl who was born in an era free from the worst form of human rights violation that ever existed on the planet I was not alive during the period of systematic brutalization of one particular race by another just because one proclaimed racial superiority over the other.I was not in the plantations of Kentucky or Georgia or the Carolinas before or after the Civil War I wasn t in the hell called Sweet Home.But Sethe was So were Halle, Paul D, Sixo, Paul A and Baby Suggs and the unnamed ones And a part of me is with them and I still cannot wrest it away.I can perhaps ramble on and on and still be completely unable to write a proper review ofBelovedAnd I won t even try to summarize the book in a few sentences, since that would be deeply irreverent of me Beloved is not just a masterpiece, not even just a remarkable literary achievement Beloved is the beauty of the resilience of the human spirit Beloved is about hope and endurance Beloved tells us about unspeakable cruelty and abuse inflicted on humanity by humanity itself Beloved reveals festering psychological wounds, deep emotional scars that could never ever heal Beloved is profoundly lyrical and empathetic in its depiction of grotesque events that unfolded during the most ignominious part of America s history Beloved wrenches your heart out, shreds it into a million tiny pieces but then stitches all the pieces together and hands your heart back to you all bloodied and messed up.Maybe a few years down the line when I read Beloved again, I will write a coherent review and sound less emotional Maybe I will get every cryptic message Toni Morrison intended for her reader to receive and decode Maybe I will not But I will try.And I will read this book again when I feel like my life is difficult or I can t go on any I m sure Sethe and Beloved will be there to hold my hands and lead me forward.I cannot write any I must go and find myself another tissue.P.S Apologies for the spoilers I have ended up including in the review But I just had to write this the way I did. I don t give books low marks lightly If anything, I am prone to being carried away by the author s enthusaism and rate books highly than they deserve I am an aspiring author, myself, and that also leads me to be kind to the books.That being said, I really hated this book.I like fantasy and magical realism I find the dreams and allegories that live just underneath the skin of the world we can readily see and touch endlessly fascinating I like my stories intense and emotional, and I like it when characters are so full of passion that it obscures their sense of the world around them.That being said, I really hated this book.I found Beloved incomprehensible to the point of absurdity It s one thing to have a book that is full of magic and poetry or to have a character s passion overwhelm their ability to describe the world from time to time, but I also need to know what is going on For the story to grab me, I need to know what the story is.Did I mention that I really hated this book I know it s trendy to read Toni Morrison, but I recommend this book to absolutely no one I found it a borderline insulting waste of my time.
The Bluest Eye ,
- 324 pages
- Toni Morrison
- 23 January 2017 Toni Morrison