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review 2018-10-16 00:00
Song of Solomon
Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison You know your love keeps on lifting me, lifting me higher and higher

Earlier this year, I realized two things: (1) Even though Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon is one of my desert island books, I’ve only read it once, and that was about 15 years ago, and (2) I haven’t even owned a copy for half that time, having lost track of my original through several big moves (I blame my ex). I bought a fresh copy this spring, nervous and excited to give it another read.

The story focuses on Milkman Dead, only son of Macon Dead and expected successor to his father’s empire of property in an unnamed Michigan city. In his early teens, Milkman’s friend Guitar goads him into a forbidden visit to Macon’s sister, Pilate, a free spirit and bootlegger whom Macon long ago disowned, and he begins to learn more about his complicated family history, getting conflicting stories from his aunt, his father, and his mother. But while Guitar is pulled into a secret society of black activists, Milkman goes legit, working for his father to earn money to make himself more attractive to women. He enters into an illicit relationship with his cousin Hagar, Pilate’s granddaughter, but when he grows bored with her and tries to call things off, she wages a nightly campaign to terrorize him.

And that’s just the first third of the book. There’s so much going on in this story that Morrison somehow fits into a brisk 340 pages: race relations, class tensions, family secrets, deception, revenge, and even a multi-state treasure hunt for a long-lost fortune in gold. Along the way, Milkman is forced to reconcile what he thinks the world owes him with what he really owes to his family, his friends, his community, and himself. Morrison covers all this territory across several decades with ease, starting with a bang and soaring through the last breathtaking line.   

I have to confess that, for a book I’ve long considered one of the best I’ve ever read, I quickly found I didn’t remember much detail, at least not right away. My fondness through the years was based more on my memory of how I felt the first time I read it, particularly at the end, and though I still retained that heady elation the second time around, I also found myself able to pay more attention to the characters and story and the crackling rhythms of Morrison’s language. Beloved was my first Morrison read and is more well-known these days, but Song of Solomon is still my favorite. This book is intimate and epic, immediate and mythic, timely and timeless.

(This review was originally posted as part of Cannonball Read 10: Sticking It to Cancer, One Book at a Time.)
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review 2018-10-16 00:00
Song of Solomon
Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison You know your love keeps on lifting me, lifting me higher and higher

Earlier this year, I realized two things: (1) Even though Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon is one of my desert island books, I’ve only read it once, and that was about 15 years ago, and (2) I haven’t even owned a copy for half that time, having lost track of my original through several big moves (I blame my ex). I bought a fresh copy this spring, nervous and excited to give it another read.

The story focuses on Milkman Dead, only son of Macon Dead and expected successor to his father’s empire of property in an unnamed Michigan city. In his early teens, Milkman’s friend Guitar goads him into a forbidden visit to Macon’s sister, Pilate, a free spirit and bootlegger whom Macon long ago disowned, and he begins to learn more about his complicated family history, getting conflicting stories from his aunt, his father, and his mother. But while Guitar is pulled into a secret society of black activists, Milkman goes legit, working for his father to earn money to make himself more attractive to women. He enters into an illicit relationship with his cousin Hagar, Pilate’s granddaughter, but when he grows bored with her and tries to call things off, she wages a nightly campaign to terrorize him.

And that’s just the first third of the book. There’s so much going on in this story that Morrison somehow fits into a brisk 340 pages: race relations, class tensions, family secrets, deception, revenge, and even a multi-state treasure hunt for a long-lost fortune in gold. Along the way, Milkman is forced to reconcile what he thinks the world owes him with what he really owes to his family, his friends, his community, and himself. Morrison covers all this territory across several decades with ease, starting with a bang and soaring through the last breathtaking line.   

I have to confess that, for a book I’ve long considered one of the best I’ve ever read, I quickly found I didn’t remember much detail, at least not right away. My fondness through the years was based more on my memory of how I felt the first time I read it, particularly at the end, and though I still retained that heady elation the second time around, I also found myself able to pay more attention to the characters and story and the crackling rhythms of Morrison’s language. Beloved was my first Morrison read and is more well-known these days, but Song of Solomon is still my favorite. This book is intimate and epic, immediate and mythic, timely and timeless.

(This review was originally posted as part of Cannonball Read 10: Sticking It to Cancer, One Book at a Time.)
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text 2018-02-10 02:43
Reading progress update: I've read 136 out of 229 pages.
Jazz - Toni Morrison

Spring has sprung in the City; months gone by since, that Violet, Violent, at the funeral. author still takes us backwards while we go forwards, sometimes--a bit of Joe Trace's history, some of it downright scary, some of it with the kind of gaps you don't want to have. 

 

terrific book...I shall finish it tomorrow.

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text 2018-02-10 00:54
Reading progress update: I've read 88 out of 229 pages.
Jazz - Toni Morrison

I love it. I was hoping I would...and I do. we have that whole "poetry in the prose" thing going on, which I love, when I'm in the mood, and the author is good at it...which she is. we've got the "bits and pieces of plot scattered about, with hidden care" approach flowing right along, which is great, when I want that, and when the author does an amazing job...which she does. wish it was longer...glad she has more books.

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text 2018-02-09 14:44
Reading progress update: I've read 2 out of 229 pages.
Jazz - Toni Morrison

so, as of now, every second book--not counting graphic novels--will be a way of celebrating Black History Month, either because I am experiencing a Black author's words, or reading something like Darktown, which fits in with my goal too. naturally, the main focus is on Black authors. Jazz seems like a good place to start, because I love Jazz music, almost as much as Blues, and I love reading about the 1920s, and I have never read Toni Morrison. I read the Foreward already, and loved the way that was written, so I'm anticipating a great time with this book. I've got an Ethel Payne (journalist) biography handy--bought it just as I was about to start Tong Wars as my Nonfiction pick of the month, and debated putting Tong Wars aside at the time, but that's fine, I'll do two Nonfiction books this month--and Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower is waiting on my shelves too. if I need something else to keep to the plan, late in the month, I'll visit the bookstore. meanwhile...Jazz!

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