Beloved by Toni Morrison
During a random strike of thrift stores last week, I stumbled across a copy of Toni Morrison’s Beloved. I’m almost ashamed to say that I’ve never read anything by Toni Morrison, despite her works’ importance. I’ve heard about Beloved in bits and pieces over the years, and I’d sort of built it up in my head as a piece of epic literature. I even thought that the decisive action Sethe takes took place during her flight from slavery, possibly on an ice floe. (Why? I have no idea.) But now I’ve corrected this shameful oversight. I have to admit, it was a similar experience to reading Atonement–a book I may read only once. Not because it’s not good, but because it’s so good that it breaks your heart.
Which do you prefer? Lurid, fruity prose, awash in imagery and sensuous textures and colors? Or straight-forward, clean, simple prose?
I prefer straight-forward prose. This isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy an author who makes great use of imagery, but “lurid, fruity prose” reminds me of the romance novels I used to sort when I volunteered at a local thrift store. (I was especially enthralled by the several novels that appeared to be centered around handsome Vikings time-traveling to the future and ending up with smart, modern women.)
But I think straight-forward prose can be much more effective than something awash in imagery. I prefer specific, thoughtful details to pages and pages of detail. For instance, in Toni Morrison’s Beloved, there’s just one perfect detail that drives home the horror and the love at the center of the novel.
This is something, I think, I’ve developed over the years–recently, I was reading something online, but as soon as it started describing the main character’s “onyx eyes”, I was out. Not only because it was downright silly, but because it also reminded me of my also downright silly middle school poetry. There’s an art to revealing just the right thing at the right time to the reader, and I wildly prefer to see that discretion on display instead of a potpourri of detail.
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
- BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
The plash of water, the sight of her shoes and stockings awry on the path where she had flung them; or Here Boy lapping in the puddle near her feet, and suddenly there was Sweet Home rolling, rolling, rolling out before her eyes, and although there was not a leaf on that farm that did not make her want to scream, it rolled itself out before her in shameless beauty. It never looked as terrible as it was and it made her wonder if hell was a pretty place too.
pg. 6 of Beloved by Toni Morrison
PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your 2 ‘teasers’ in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!