What can one say about the writing of nobel laureate? I guess not much that won't overpraise and/or piss someone off. I can't say that I'm extremely knowledgeable about Toni Morrison's work (I've read only three of her novels, The Bluest Eye, Jazz and Beloved, so call me a philistine if it so pleases you), nor can I say that I dislike her work, because I expect that I will read more of her books; it's just that I don't feel any overwhelming desire to read everything she has written as soon as possible. Why is this the case? To say it a short way, in all three books by her that I've read, I've felt that she has made it her project to MAKE me sympathize with characters that I ALREADY feel sympathy for. There seems to be an assumption in Beloved that I won't already understand that the atrocities of slavery could drive a mother to kill her own child rather than have the child face those atrocities. Plus, in this book there seemed to be several token "good white" or "not as bad white" characters (for example, the first owner of the plantation Sethe lived and worked on and Amy, a kind of female Huckleberry Finn) who seem tacked into the narrative to give balance to a book that understandably contains numerous unsympathetic white characters. Beloved is a work of some degree of psychological complexity, but I did feel--please don't shoot me--that it was also a book of "sheeps and goats" or "wheat and chaff." This feeling was intensified after I read Edward P. Jones's The Known World, which I believe is a more powerful and moving work on account of the author's refusal to absolutely condemn or absolutely save any of his characters. Having said all this, I realize I'm nobody and my opinion really doesn't matter. Beloved still warrants four stars for its story because who the hell am I? Furthermore, Morrison's performance in this audiobook is exemplary, earning five stars for the lack of sentimentality in her voice in passages that could have been treacly. Peace.
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