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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Sula by Toni Morrison 
5th-Jul-2006 09:24 pm
Don't ask me how long this one's been on the pile... ^^;;;;

Morrison, Toni. Sula. 1973. New York: Plume, 1982.
Summary: The story of two friends growing up in the black Ohio community of Bottom, Nel Wright and Sula Peace.
Comments: Ah, what's to say about Toni Morrison that hasn't already been said before...and in much, much better prose than I could ever? Actually, I was a bit surprised; Sula kind of felt like Morrison "lite," especially when compared to The Bluest Eye and Beloved. Though there is the occasional experimental passage, for the most part the prose is precise and accessible. If anything, I thought there were times where Morrison explicitly explained too much--such as the emasculation in the face of white power that black men feel, or the way in which Irish immigrants would violently abuse blacks in order to reinforce their identity as white. Though in many ways the themes here are familiar territory, the female solidarity between friends of the same age, Nel and Sula, is the main point of the novel. Indeed, it's a strongly feminist--heck, if not lesbian (I could easily do a homoerotic reading here)--argument that Morrison advances. After all, what's the point of willfully being doubly oppressed, first as blacks in white society and second as women by black men? Not to mention that the women allow their desire for men to get in the way of the friendship that they do not even realize until the very end that is what they crave most profoundly. Oh, and Shadrack and his National Suicide Day need to be enshrined in the hall of Great and Unforgettable Moments of Literature.
Notes: trade paperback, 2nd printing
Rating: 7.5/10 - Not Morrison at her best, but...well, even at her worst she's better than most.
6th-Jul-2006 01:27 am (UTC)
I finally go around to reading a Toni Morrison book! Jazz. Fabulous book.
6th-Jul-2006 01:31 am (UTC)
That one's on my pile too. >_<

BTW, since you seem to have been interested in gothic fiction lately--you absolutely must read Beloved. On the most superficial level, it's a ghost story. (I read it for the first time when assigned it in an American Gothic lit class.)
6th-Jul-2006 07:52 am (UTC)
Yes, Beloved is one I definitely must read. The loal library has it - I'll grab it next time I'm there.
6th-Jul-2006 11:46 am (UTC)
Actually, I still have the course reader floating around for that American Gothic class if you're interested in the list of short stories we did.
6th-Jul-2006 05:20 am (UTC)
People have done lesbian readings of Sula, but Morrison got annoyed at them and said that nobody is allowed to interpret her characters as lesbian, because she's the author so she gets to decide and she says all her characters are heterosexual.
6th-Jul-2006 11:40 am (UTC)
Where did you hear that? I've gotten the impression that she is actually quite magnanimous when it comes to readings of her works that she didn't anticipate. One of my college professors told us a story in class about a time that she sat on a round-table discussion with Morrison. One of the participants had a lesbian reading of a Morrison novel (it may have been Sula), and after outlining it, Morrison just smiled and said, "Well, I'm convinced!"
6th-Jul-2006 02:31 pm (UTC)
Really? She must have gotten better over the years. I watched her say it in an interview that a professor showed to our class, and then we had a big debate over whether authors have the right to issue proclamations that their characters can't be interpreted in certain ways. I suspect I could find some documentation of it on Google later, when I'm not on my way to work and actually have time to search.
6th-Jul-2006 02:58 pm (UTC)
Hmm. I'm wondering if what you're remembering is Morrison's reaction to what she deemed BAD lit crit. She's a college professor, too, so of course she likes new ideas, and she's always been interested in creating, revising, and expanding paradigms of knowledge, but then she's also going to react negatively, as a teacher of writing and criticism would, to badly argued and badly written theses. And when that bad writing is about her own work, I suspect she's not so thick-skinned that it doesn't hurt personally.
7th-Jul-2006 01:19 am (UTC)
Well, I don't seem to be having any luck finding documentation on Google, and I don't think I ever even read the essay that she was responding to, so I can't comment on that.
6th-Jul-2006 08:59 pm (UTC)
I read Song of Solomon by her last week. I was pretty impressed with the story and characters, but the prose was not as good as I was expecting.

One thing that bugged me is that she went into an explanation of the first line of the book in the introduction. Something like that is okay to have in a commentary at the end of the book, but don't tell me how to interpret something that I haven't read yet. It made the beginning completely ineffective.
7th-Jul-2006 07:11 pm (UTC)
Hi! I found you via the books community. I was wondering if we could become LJ friends? :)
8th-Jul-2006 05:14 pm (UTC)
Sure. ^_^ I have an open friending policy.
1st-Aug-2006 04:31 am (UTC)
Review archived.
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