Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Beloved by Toni Morrison

I'm going to sound like some uncultured philistine after this review.

Beloved is one of those books that you (or at least I) always hear about. As a really good book, one that changes your lives and such. I think I first heard of it in How To Read Literature Like A Professor, where the whole metaphor of the four horseman of the Apocalypse was discussed. So really, it sounded like a really fantastic book and I was so thrilled to find it at BookOff.

And to be sure, the book has really beautiful language. Sometimes, the prose feels like poetry. Reading it is just, wonderful. I think you could probably just turn to any page in this book and find a quote that you want to remember forever.

But somehow, I didn't connect with this book. I didn't connect with the characters and I didn't connect with the plot.

If we're talking about plot, I understood the plot. In the end. But there were long frustrating stretches where I was very lost about what was going on. Sometimes, being lost can be fun but here, it just made me really frustrated. I could understand the past, as it was revealed in bits and pieces, but when I was introduced to Beloved, I got so confused. I actually had to refer to Wikipedia to understand what was going on.... I get that there's supposed to be ambiguity, but I really do wish that there was less ambiguity.

Characters, characters. Well, Denver was my favourite character and Paul D was my least favourite. I liked Denver because she was sensible and because she grew throughout the novel. I didn't like Paul D because he was mistaken about Denver (why does he call her slow-witted?) and because, well, just because. I'm pretty much neutral about Sethe and Beloved.

In short, this book was pretty average for me. I liked it, but I didn't feel any strong emotions about it and I definitely wasn't changed by the book. Perhaps it's because my expectations were so high, but I wanted to laugh and cry and live another life reading this book.

Personally, I prefer I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. It's an autobiography, but it's really moving and well, I (perhaps wrongly) expected Beloved to touch me in the same way.

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