Friday, January 30, 2009

A Mercy by Toni Morrison

I read Toni Morrison's book Beloved many many years ago and found it kind of confusing but very unique and intriguing. I don't remember much else of it and haven't read another of her books until now. A Mercy is a very short 167 pages so you can read it quickly but it is not easy to read or to understand at first. There parts that just didn't seem to make any sense at all. Of course, I'm not a big fan of the Faulkneresque style so that prejudiced me against the book. If she were an artist she'd be Picasso or Dali and I prefer Rembrandt. She comes at the story line by picking around the edges of it and I feel like saying "Get on with it already". I have to say that her descriptions are very lush and the language is very rich.

It is the story of a man and his mail-order English bride set in 1690's Virginia. They gather up a few slaves but are uncomfortable with the slavery thing. They seemed to be rescuing them more than anything else. The book also discusses the repression of women and the sacrifices both slaves and women often made at that time. I appreciated her discussion of Job:
"What complaint would a female Job dare to put forth? And if, having done so, and He deigned to remind her of how weak and ignorant she was, where was the news in that? What shocked Job into humility and renewed fidelity was the message a female Job would have known and heard every minute of her life."

There aren't many obscenities but there is one truly awful word on page 83. I'd have skipped that page if I had known. There is also a sex scene, and some violence. Rated R. Actually that one word would make it NC-17 but for the purposes of this blog it is rated R. Can't say I recommend the book even though many critics are gaga over it.

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