18 May 2012

Books in the Club: Toni Morrison, A Mercy

 So, I am super excited to have this new "Books in the Club" feature on my blog.  I am super excited because I have been in the market for a book club for a long time.  And I finally found one!  Granted, it is my husband and a group of close, literary-type friends, but that just makes it more awesome. Right? So, anyway, this isn't really a new feature, just the same ol' rambling thoughts, but about books that I read with other people.


Don't be afraid.  My telling can't hurt you in spite of what I have done and I promise to lie quietly in the dark -- weeping perhaps or occasionally seeing the blood once more -- but I will never again unfold my limbs to rise up and bare teeth.
How can you resist this beginning?  Toni Morrison is a master of her craft.  I love Beloved, and I've been wanting to read something else wonderful by Morrison ever since I read it when I was an undergraduate (I did read Love, but I didn't like it, so I'll leave it alone).  A Mercy is as twisty and turn-y as Beloved, but in half the page space.  For a book that is only 167 pages long, I couldn't believe the goodness that was packed into those pages.

So, I don't want to talk to explicitly about the story, because I don't want to give anything away (1), and (2) because it would be remarkably difficult to summarize. The book takes place in a colonial America, pre-British total domination, that was a really unfamiliar landscape for me.  I learned a lot about history by looking things up as I read. And, it is about enslavement- both voluntary and involuntary.  The point of view characters are many, and their stories interweave and overlap, not necessarily in chronological order.  And it is beautiful.  Like this:

Rain itself became a brand-new thing: clean, sootless water falling from the sky. She clasped her hands under her chin gazing at trees taller than a cathedral, wood for warmth so plentiful it made her laugh, then weep, for her brother and the children freezing in the city she had left behind. She had never seen birds like these, or tasted fresh water than ran over visible white stones. 

I was really interested in the way that women were portrayed in the novel, and how Morrison portrayed the precariousness of the lives of all the women -- even those in power -- in this at once plentiful, and simultaneously hostile environment.  Her point of view characters -- Florens, Sorrow, Rebecca and Lina-- all come from different backgrounds, but all share a longing to be free of something.  Some simply wish to be free from the patriarchy that prevents them from living amongst other women, which is portrayed in the novel as a utopia of sorts.

Anyway, I totally recommend it, especially if you are a fan of Morrison already.  Pick this up, and celebrate the release of her new book Home.


Title: A Mercy
Author: Toni Morrison
 Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Date: 2008
Genre: Literary Fiction

167 pages.
Where I got it: Bought it at Paperback City
Challenges: Mount TBR Challenge (Woohoo!)

4 comments:

  1. So lucky to be part of a book club! I don't have any r/t friends that enjoy reading...and if they do like reading, it's more of the bodice-ripping type stuff:(

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    Replies
    1. I've been looking for a book club forever. I live in a small town, so it was really hard to find one.

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  2. After loving Home (and realizing Toni Morrison is no longer a scary author, several people have recommended A Mercy as the next one to read. I'm hoping to dig into it this summer sometime. Also, I'm glad you found a book club!

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    Replies
    1. I hope you like it. Beloved is great too, and my husband loves Song of Solomon. The only one I've read of hers that I didn't like was Love.

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