Monday, September 25, 2006

Reader's Diary #160- Toni Morrison: Beloved (up to p. 43)

On the front cover of my copy:

"Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature"
"Winner of the Pulitzer Prize For Fiction"

On the back cover:

"A triumph!" - Margaret Atwood.

And inside, 3 pages of glowing sentiments from everyone from The New York Times to The Christian Science Monitor.

What does all this mean? People will buy the book.

But also... if people don't like the book (or worse, if they don't understand the book), they're big fat idiots.

It's too early to tell how big, fat and idiotic I am.

I will say that it initially captured my attention. I haven't seen the movie version, so I wasn't expecting a supernatural story. And once I had that figured out, I wasn't expecting the supernatural elements to be thrown in so matter of factly. Likewise with the perversions. So far Morrison presents ghosts and cow-humping as though common occurrences in our everyday life. Maybe in Nebraska.

(I'm not sure why I picked Nebraska- it felt like I needed a punchline and Nebraska popped in my head. Sorry, Nebraska.)

But I can't quite take to the characters yet. Something about the way they think and act seems unauthentic to me. They're very much like those in William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, and to a lesser extent, John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. They're not uninteresting, they just seem to me a little like an upper (or middle) class view of the lowerclass. All seem to be portrayed in a somewhat stupid and often slightly deviant light. Of course, the authors bend over backwards trying to throw in some niceties, poke a few jabs at the higher classes from time to time, and leave us all with some morals to ponder, but the American classics often leave me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Maybe I'm just being bitter. I'm not fully understanding it yet. It's hard to know at times what is going on, what is really going on, and who's doing what. So, stuck with the realization that I might be a big fat idiot, I'm lashing out at American classics. But it is possible that it's a case of the Emperor's New Clothes.

That said, I will try to keep an open mind as I finish this thing...


Barbara Bruederlin said...

I've never really had the urge to read this, and always felt slightly guilty about that. No more.

John Mutford said...

There. If I turn just one person from this book, than I've made a difference.

Actually, I'll admit it. I was is a foul mood when I wrote that. I've read some sense and it wasn't as hard to follow.