February 24, 2012

Literary Pick (**)

-Toni Morrison

This book was a bit odd, and I thought it seemed familiar, and about 3/4 of the way through is when I realized this was the story of the movie Beloved with Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover! How could I've forgotten that? I would not have chosen this book to read had I remembered, because unless it's a movie I absolutely love, I find it quite redundant to read something I've already watched in film format. Before I realized it was a movie I had already watched, I wished I had prepared myself for it a bit more. Had I known it was going to be filled with a multi-fold of enigmatic allegories and symbolism, I probably would have passed on it. I understand the book has it's value...but what I don't get about it is how other readers who gave it 5 stars are able to decipher the cluster-fuck of imagery and metaphors it contains. They must have taken a college course in symbolism or something, because it's hard for me to believe that any casual person can pick up this book (without having watched the film) and fully grasp everything that is going on without having a degree in semiotics. In other words, who the hell is born knowing all this stuff?

I consider myself a fairly moderate reader, and I have an open mind for magical realism (I loved 100 Years of Solitude by Marquez, and I enjoyed The Wind-up Bird chronicle by Murakami) but Beloved, is more than just magical realism, it is outright obscure and at times incomprehensible. The only reason I was able to make out what was going on in this story was because I remembered snippets from the movie, which I actually enjoyed. The story is a great story to see on film, but reading it and having no visualization of what's going on with the supernatural aspects of the book was too confusing and at times frustrating. I still don't understand where Beloved came from, or who was the spirit in the house..

I admit that although I struggled with the book, I did enjoy Morrison's prose, and that is what kept me wanting to continue to finish the book. I have a deep respect for Toni Morrison as a writer. She is no doubt a historical author, but unless she deviates from this style in her other works, I don't think I'll be in a rush to read anything else by her for a while. I would, however, like to watch the movie again to understand what I read.

I especially loved this passage towards the end.

"He leans over and takes her hand. With the other he touches her face. "You your best thing, Sethe. You are." His holding fingers are holding hers.

"Me? Me?"


Blogger Samantha Chu Ramage. said...

i read this book last year and remember having absolutely no idea what was happening until i finished it- i thought it was great and the movie was a pretty fair representation of what i had read! glad you made it through!


February 26, 2012 at 8:07 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thanks Samantha.

February 26, 2012 at 8:31 AM  

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