Whenever we lose someone like this, I grieve. I know it’s silly I’ve never known Ms. Morrison, and she’s just a person like any other of us. But, that is the thing with the best of our artists. I feel like I did know her through her work.
I haven’t read all (or even most) of her books, but the ones I have read were all terrific, challenging, thought and emotion provoking reads. It probably comes as no surprise that Song of Solomon was my favorite of her books. After all, it is the only of her books told from a male perspective (unless I’m mistaken?). Yes, I’m a walking cliche. But I think it also says something about Morrison’s mastery. Just last week we had discussion about this in a small group of writers…specifically about the challenge of writing the opposite gender (or race, culture, whatever other stumbling block). Morrison like many, many authors before and after her proves it can be done. And done well. I’m guessing she didn’t use sensitivity readers. 😉
The other thing that I think often is lost in our seemingly current “issue” of writers writing outside their physical gender, identified gender, skin pigment, or cultural upbringing (again and whatever other…) is the ability of the writer to write from their own expertise (i.e. skin pigment, gender, etc.) and show the story in a way that it is accessible to an audience outside of those confined barriers. Toni Morrison is one of the reasons I am fascinated by literature about the African-American experience (along with Richard Wright, probably the biggest reason).
So, she did a lot of things well. Not the least of which was creating beauty. When Jill told me she had passed it was like a kick in the gut. She will be missed.
Years ago, I wrote a blog about what I was reading…specifically because I was making an effort to read more widely. I posted on a couple of Toni Morrison books:
You’ll find that blog as unedited, rambling and stream of conscious as this one. It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.
Have you read any Morrison? What book would you suggest I start next (I’ve read Solomon, Beloved, and The Bluest Eye)?