Friday, December 12, 2008

BELOVED by Toni Morrison

And now it's time for a little heresy:

Toni Morrison's Beloved is not a great novel. In fact, it's not even a very good one. It's too slow, too long, contains scenes of such overripe melodrama that any other literary writer would be chastised for including them, and--now I commit the heresy of heresies--it's not even especially well-written. That's right. Morrison's much-lauded prose doesn't impress me much. Even in her celebrated lyrical passages she seems to be forcing intensity into her lines through obvious rhetorical devices such as repetition (writing "slowly, slowly" when a simple "slowly" would do). There's also one glaring logical problem with the narrative, unresolved at the halfway point: surely one of Paul D's acquaintances or coworkers would have informed him of Sethe's past very soon after his arrival in Cincinnati. Paul's ignorance is simply not credible and exists solely so Morrison can manipulate her readers by slowly lifting the curtain on her murder scene.

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