Thursday, December 13, 2012

212. Home by Toni Morrison

There are some writers whose works conjure magic. Their control over words is ethereal; their use, quintessential, drawn from a deeper understanding and a personal relationship they have with them. These individuals become either linguists or storytellers; poets belong to such class of people. And Toni Morrison. Toni Morrison is an author whose oeuvre is worth a study. To describe the relationship between aficionados of Morrison's craft and Morrison, it would be important to paraphrase Sherman Alexie: what you write we'll read. 

In Home (Knopf, 2012; 147) Morrison continued her exploration of the lives of Black Americans during the time of segregation. Frank Money and his sister, his only sibling, Ycidra witnessed a burial, of a possible homicide. Now Frank Money has just returned from the Korean War with the horrors on his mind and the demons at his back. He is tormented by nightmares that sometimes cause him to behave insanely. In fact, it even led him to an incarceration. But Frank is on a mission. A mission to save her medically abused sister before she dies. And he must also fight his demons and overcome his nightmares.

Morrison employed two different narrative styles. First, written in italics, Frank is narrating the story of his life to an invisible biographer, perhaps the author, whom he addresses once a while. He is telling him what has happened and why are certain things as they are. But we quickly realises that Frank is not believable or dependable and this is because he admitted it himself. For in fighting his demons, he must first take responsibilities of things he had done. The second narrative style is the third-person limited point-of-view narrative that somewhat expatiates Frank's narrative.

Compared with her earlier books - Song of Solomon, Beloved, Sula, The Bluest Eyes; those I've read - this one seemed anaemic; however, it has its own strengths. It is a straight-to-the-point story and all those who complained about the expansive and opened-to-interpretation prose of the earlier books, especially the first two, will enjoy this. This is not saying that the prose in this book was compromised or watered-down but it includes not the paranormal, which has been a major feature of Morrison's stories.

All the same Home is great. It brings out a certain loneliness of life. It also shows the importance of family, of love, of communalism - features of many a Morrison book. Recommended.


  1. Interesting review.... I personally have to admit I find it difficult to read Toni Morrison's novels. They are a bit "intensive".
    Any way, thanks for the review.

    1. Yes... Morrison is sometimes 'intensive' but not this one. This one is light and hardened fans would even complain.

  2. There is been al ot of rave reviews about Home and I would want to grab a copy and read it. After having read Bluest Eye, I agree that Morrison is an intense writer. But if you say this is light, I will take your word and go for it.


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