toni morrison’s home

Misery don’t call ahead. That’s why you gotta stay awake…

That’s just one of the many lovely lines in Toni Morrison’s Home.  I started it last night and finished it in less than 24 hours.  It’s a short book and I couldn’t put it down – I had to know what happened to Frank and his sister Cee.

There are some things that I don’t quite get – like the necessity (the role) of Lily’s story or the significance of the man in the zoot suit.  There are chapters that are told by Frank (in italics) but I’m not sure I understand who (and I feel like there is a who) is telling the story of all these characters in the other chapters.  Supposedly an omniscient narrator… but once or twice the narrator breaks “character” and draws attention to its narrating self.

Still, the book is… touching.  In particular, the passages that describe the women of Lotus later in the novel are wonderful – brought tears to my eyes.  Frank’s story is compelling although his character doesn’t feel fully developed – it’s a short novel.

Morrison’s words hang in the air and make you re-read what you just read – not because they’re confusing (like my students’ papers) but because they’re too beautiful to read just once.

I’m reminded of her 1993 Nobel lecture .

Word-work is sublime, she thinks, because it is generative; it makes meaning that secures our difference, our human difference – the way in which we are like no other life. We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.


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