Review: “Beloved” by Toni Morrison

Thumbs up for Beloved by Toni Morrison. Literature.

You know how sometimes you keep hearing about something – writer, band, TV show – and you think it simply can’t live up to all the hype? And then you try it, and you realize OH MY SWEET AND HOLY GOD IT’S EVEN BETTER THAN THE HYPE, IN FACT, BETTER THAN MY LIMITED MIND EVER ALLOWED ME TO IMAGINE; WHAT WAS I DOING WITH MY LIFE BEFORE THIS? Yeah. That. That’s Toni Morrison. Go read her.

Not even trying, he had become the kind of man who could walk into a house and make the women cry. Because with him, in his presence, they could. There was something blessed in his manner. Women saw him and wanted to weep – to tell him that their chest hurt and their knees did too. Strong women and wise saw him and told him things they only told each other: that way past the Change of Life, desire in them had suddenly become enormous, greedy, more savage than when they were fifteen, and that it embarrassed them and made them sad; that secretly they longed to die – to be quit of it – that sleep was more precious to them than any waking day. Young girls sidled up to him to confess or describe how well-dressed the visitations were that had followed them straight from their dreams. Therefore, although he did not understand why this was so, he was not surprised when Denver dripped tears into the stovefire. Nor, fifteen minutes later, after telling him about her stolen milk, her mother wept as well. Behind her, bending down, his body an arc of kindness, he held her breasts in the palms of his hands. He rubbed his cheek on her back and learned that way her sorrow, the roots of it; its wide trunk and intricate branches. Raising his fingers to the hooks of her dress, he knew without seeing them or hearing any sigh that the tears were coming fast. And when the top of her dress was around her hips and he saw the sculpture her back had become, like the decorative work of an ironsmith too passionate for display, he Could think but not say, “Aw, Lord, girl.” And he would tolerate no peace until he had touched every ridge and leaf of it with his mouth, none of which Sethe could feel because her back skin had been dead for years. What she knew was that the responsibility for her breasts, at last, was in somebody else’s hands.


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