I finished Love by Toni Morrison this afternoon. I’ve been wanting to read it since it came out but didn’t want to buy it in hardcover, so it’s been a while. I got it out of the library this last trip, and just picked it up a couple days ago. It’s a short book, so the fact that I just now finished it is a testament to my slackitude in the reading department.
Maybe it was all the buildup, the anticipation from having to wait so long- because I love Toni Morrison- but my expectations exceeded my experience on this one. It’s a good book, don’t get me wrong. I just wanted more somehow.
The construction of the narrative is interesting. At the beginning, a character new to the main characters arrives. All she, and we, know is that the two main characters hate each other. Nothing else. No sense of their relation to each other, their history, nothing. As the story progresses the reader learns things about the main characters at about the same rate as the new character, but the two main characters aren’t terribly forthcoming, so that rate can be kind of slow. It’s an interesting way to do it, but definitely confusing at times. I found myself going back over pages because I thought I missed something that was keeping me from keeping the family relations straight. It wasn’t until the middle of the book that I realized that I wasn’t really supposed to know how they were all related yet. The other flaw in the execution of this method was that although we as readers identify with the new character, she doesn’t end up learning what we know by the end of the book. So we get the point, but she doesn’t, and that felt kind of strange. In fact, the whole introduction of the new character and her storyline felt like just an excuse to talk about the two main characters, she felt tacked on in a way. The core of the story was the two main characters, and I wanted more about them.
But despite my misgivings about the construction, I liked it. The story itself was sad and beautiful, dealing with the same idea from The Shadow of the Wind; that the stories we tell and the secrets we keep bind us in incredibly unpredictable ways. It’s an interesting look at the many faces of love, and at exactly what that love can do to you.
Current total: 25
Just Finished: Love by Toni Morrison
Next Up: Sock by Penn Jillette or Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell