‘Home’ – Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison HomeSadly, not the experience I had hoped for in this post. Here are two diametrically opposed online reviews of Toni Morrison’s Home: one is headlined ‘Home’: Toni Morrison’s Taut, Triumphant New Novel, and the other, Toni Morrison’s ‘Home’ finds her fumbling, and their titles say it all.

Although not fully as negative as the latter, I’m afraid my assessment is much closer to the latter than to the former.

The first half – the build-up to the central ‘rescue’ of the story – struck me as much richer, more seamless and more emotionally weighty, than the second half. I felt the second half – the denouement and the start of the healing process – was sketchier, thinner, and somewhat self-consciously constructed. If the whole were a quilt, in the second half you would be able to see the seams and traces of the design pencil, I thought. Nothing, nothing like the punch of Beloved and Song of Solomon, in my view.

Many memorable moments, though, including a wonderful description of a group of rural women who rally around to help with the healing – awesome ladies!!

of caution in reading

Thanks to Kristin Berkey-Abott for this post on Toni Morrison. Kristin is right: Morrison’s work really is “difficult” on multiple levels and I, for one, have tended to shy away from her novels after being relatively traumatized by Beloved and Song of Solomon in times past. Now, am happy to find that Morrison has a healthy Kindle page and have just downloaded Home. Deep breath.

“My soul is ten thousand miles wide

and extremely invisibly deep. It is the same size as the sea, it is bigger than the sea, it holds the sea. and you cannot, you cannot cram it into beer cans and fingernails and stake it out in lots and own it. It will drown you all and never even notice.”

That’s a character in Ursula K. LeGuin’s Searoad, a collection of stories about a small Oregon beach community. I’m reading it in a rather plodding obedient manner. I love the passage above but unfortunately it’s pretty much the only one of its kind so far and I’m about halfway through. I’m probably spoilt by Earthsea and her off-planet fiction. She writes very differently there.