Chris Blocker's Reviews > Home

Home by Toni Morrison
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Jun 23, 2012

really liked it
Read from June 19 to 21, 2012

Toni Morrison is master of the English language. It doesn't matter if she's talking about flowers, or shoes, or syphilis, there is a rhythm to her words that feeds beautifully from one sentence to the next. It's that thing called “flow” students of creative writing are taught, the same flow instructors of creative writing have difficulty teaching. If I were a teacher of creative writing, and a student asked me to explain flow, I'd open up any Morrison novel to a random page of narrative and begin reading aloud. I'd ask the class to pay close attention to the placing of each noun and verb, the structure of one sentence and the next, the choice and sound of each word. I imagine it is an experience to hear Morrison read aloud.

Morrison is also a very talented storyteller, when she has a story to tell. I've heard it said that she ran out of stories in the late 1980s (the Nobel curse, some say). I'm not sure if this is true or not, but I do feel that of the handful of Morrison novels I have read, the most memorable were those from the first half of her career. Her newer works are still brilliant in their language, but as I walk away from them, I feel as if I've read a beautiful collection of poetry that offered no lasting imagery.

Home is such a work, however a clear step up from the previous A Mercy, a novel so thin on story it is forgotten before one can return the book to the shelf. The chronology and perspectives of Home are presented in a way which capitalizes on the language but doesn't do as much for the story. Nevertheless, there is a story here, still thin but recognizable, memorable and slightly haunting.

Before I return to any of Morrison's post-Beloved titles, I believe I'll explore her entire catalog of the 70s and 80s. I like both storytelling-Morrison and linguistic-Morrison, but most days I'd take a good story over a beautifully crafted drawn-out vignette.
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