August 12, 2013
Beloved by Toni Morrison (Review)
Author: Toni Morrison
First published: 1987
Add it: Goodreads, The Book Depository
I have definitely had too much of stream-of-consciousness this summer, and all of it for The Fiction of Relationship course. I admit that my total inability to appreciate Beloved may be partially caused by my fatigue from fighting my way through this type of writing, but I'm sure it is not only this. The novel has both Nobel and Pulitzer prizes and is widely acclaimed, so I may be very mistaken, but I tried to like this book and I can't. And I'll try to explain why.
First, this magical realism didn't work for me in Beloved. I have nothing against this genre, for example Kafka does it beautifully, Borges is just brilliant... But can't a story of slavery be told without it? I don't think it is necessary or revealing in the novel. Most of the time I was asking myself what the hell was happening in that house and what do these ghosts, spirits and other mystical creatures are doing in and for the story.
Another problem is that I didn't understand any motivations of the characters, and explanations and remembrances were too vague and too far in the novel to get a clear picture. If reading Faulkner is like exploring, reading Morrison is like feeling your way in the dark, stumbling all the time. I never got who was Beloved, why did she behaved like this, why everybody treated her as they did, etc.
And then the writing... It is even less coherent that Woolf's and certainly less beautiful than Faulkner's. I regularly found myself not understanding what was being talked about at all and not paying attention as a result. And I just flapped through the several pages of what seems to be some LSD-caused balderdash without any punctuation in the end of the second part, not being able to read it at all. A very unusual occurrence, as I'm generally very persistent.
In my book:
Beloved is a miserable and weird novel. The story itself might have been very powerful if treated normally and used with skill, but this is not the case. I apologize for any fans of Morrison for this maybe rather harsh review, but for me this was the worst read for quite some time.