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Book Review: Beloved by Toni Morrison

     (I know, I know, my blog posts have not been very varied lately - too much Toni Morrison.  I'll find a new writer to fixate on soon, I promise.  In the meantime, here's a review of another one of her flawless books!)




     Beloved is set in post-Civil War Cincinnati, Ohio.  More specifically, it takes place at the address 124, in a house haunted by the "spiteful" ghost of a baby girl who died a horrific death.  The baby's mother, a former slave named Sethe, and her remaining family continue to live at 124 for years after the tragedy. This story explores the effects of the baby ghost and of the memory of slavery on the men and women who are connected to the house.  
     This book is disturbing, desolate, tender, audacious, and gorgeous.  Can I just give you a sample of the writing?  I don't trust my words to do hers justice.

     And in all those escapes he could not help being astonished by the beauty of the land that was not his. He hid in its breast, fingered its earth for food, clung to its banks to lap water and tried not to love it.  On nights when the sky was personal, weak with the weight of its own stars, he made himself not love it (316).

     That passage is told from the point of view of Paul D, a slave who escapes and is recaptured many times.  As I read those sentences, my whole body tensed with secondhand pain.  Because he isn't even free to wander the land, loving it is too painful to bear.  

     But maybe a man was nothing but a man...They encouraged you to put some of your weight in their hands and soon as you felt how light and lovely that was, they studied your scars and tribulations, after which they did what he had done: ran her children out and tore up the house (26).

    That is Sethe, contemplating the future of her relationship with Paul D.  The second sentence is so long, complicated, and casual, but it holds up and communicates so much.
     Please excuse me while I get back to my re-reading :P

     - Carly


P.S.  Pay attention to the colors in this book.  And stairs = sex. 

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