Saturday, September 30, 2006

Reader's Diary #162- Toni Morrison: Beloved (up to p.106)

I recant.

In my first post about this book, I said it was confusing and elitist.
Either I was in a rotten mood, it's just one of those books that doesn't grab you right away, or both.

I still doubt it will become a personal favourite, and I'm still unsure of all of its accolades . The insane amount of praise seems to leave the impression that it is a faultless piece of work. It's not. My beef is with some of the artistic license she takes with reality. In particular, I have a problem with the Paul D. character. In one scene he compares Beloved to a strawberry plant, saying she had the same shine the plants had just before they shot out vines. I can believe that Paul D. would have had experience with strawberry plants, and even that he might use them in a personal metaphor, but the way Morrsion portrays it seems artificial. Paul D. almost becomes a poet in his thoughts, and this doesn't mesh with the character she has previously painted of him. In fact, he'd probably be the character with the least poetic sensibilities. A little too often, Morrison herself seems to have taken over the character and to me, the novel suffers for it.

However, the story is not confusing as I had first suggested, and I am overall enjoying it very much. One very small detail that I find particularly impressive is her "colouredpeople" or "whitepeople". The first time I came across the term, I thought it just a typo- the publishers accidentally left out the space between the words. But as I noticed that it was consistent and for "colouredpeople" as well as "whitepeople" I caught the intention. This artistic license I like.

Beloved herself is a very intriguing character. There's an obvious supernatural element about her- she knows things she should not know, people cannot explain how they act around her, she seems to have no past and came to house 124 under very mysterious circumstances. Yet less obvious, is who she is- is she the adult ghost of Sethe's baby? Is she somehow connected to the white Denver who helped her give birth? Is she good? Is she evil? It's this mystery that has taken a hold of me.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'm glad this book has started to grow on you. Well, actually maybe not because now I have to go back to feeling slighty guilty for not having read it.
Depending on your final word, I may have to rectify that.

John Mutford said...

Oh give me a chance. I might just flip-flop a few more times yet!