It’s sad that it can take the death of an director, musician or writer to give you the impetus to actually give some of their work a go. It prevents you from feeling the weight of that person’s death and instead makes them and their work feel less contemporary and more historical. At least through it means that you finally pay attention and now, having read Song of Solomon, it feels like I am finally beginning to understand the importance of Toni Morrison.
I know that this is not her magnum opus, which I will get to eventually, but I just wanted to read the earliest of her books that appeared on my list. When I first started in it, I did wonder what on Earth I was letting myself in for. It was dense, I found it difficult to understand what was going on and, honestly, I had this pit of dread that I was going to end up being bored the entire way through.
Then, I don’t know, it felt like the book finally started with the birth of the main character and I got so engrossed in the story of his growing up that I forgot how impenetrable the beginning was. Suddenly I was able to see the poetry in Morrison’s slightly dense way of wording and was able to greatly appreciate the rich family histories that she began and continued to describe for the bulk of the book.
It was towards the end of reading it, where Milkman (the main character) had travelled across America to find out about his grandmother, that I realised that I never studied a book at school that wasn’t by a white man. Meant I missed out on reading something so brutal and yet oddly mythical (I mean, how else do you describe the characters of Hagar and Pilate) as this.
After quite an intense book, I think it might be time to read one of the less intense books that I have saving. Either that, or get an easy win with one of the shorter ones. I’ll get to Beloved soon enough, but I can already tell from the synopsis that I’m going to need time in between Toni Morrison books before I’m ready to start in on another.