Jason's Reviews > A Mercy

A Mercy by Toni Morrison
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Nov 11, 2008

it was amazing
Read in March, 2009

"poison is like the drowned, it always floats"...
consider this phrase from the novel and you will capture the primary emphasis of this book...

what i mean by this is captured in the figures of jacob and florens...figures which represent the full spectrum of the slave relationship...
with jacob, the slave owner, morrison depicts the notion that one cannot just sip lightly from a poisoned cup and avoid being poisoned...likewise one cannot merely dip one's toe into an economic system founded on slavery without being corrupted and intoxicated by it...

another aspect of this lengthy dissociative metaphor is once the poison is introduced into a new environment it will float to the surface there as well...
with florens, her slave status weighs on her so heavily she finds herself willing to go through hell, even to commit an act of horrible atrocity, in order to maintain an untainted connection that was formed outside the domain of her slaveness...

in a sequence which symbolizes the poison that collects just beneath the surface of our contemporary culture to this very day, florens goes to the house that jacob built and scratches her story, her pain, her loss, into the walls, ceilings, and floors of one of the rooms...
a slave, scratching her grief on the inside of the house the slaver built...
there can be no more appropriate image for the unrest we experience today...

morrison helps us to relieve that unrest, because she forces us to go inside that house and read those anguished words gouged into those surfaces...
if enough of us go in there and read those words, maybe the poison will finally begin to dissipate...
morrison seems intent on pointing out that, until we do, we still continue to poison ourselves...



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Reading Progress

02/24/2009 page 35
20.96% "very much enjoying it so far..."
03/01/2009 page 105
62.87% "i hate books with rag trimmed edges!...it makes it impossible to flip back through the pages..." 1 comment
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Tracy (new)

Tracy I'm going to have to pick it up. I am very tempted to teach it immediately.

Ha!

You know, like, take three weeks on it, slowly reading it, being among the first set of folks to pour over it, to make the mistakes in interpretation : ) that are inevitable with early readings of Morrison. They get refined/corrected later.

But, her last novel simply didn't engage me, and I'm concerned this won't, either.

Let us know what you think of it!


message 2: by Jason (last edited Nov 14, 2008 10:54AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jason yeah...
one of the teachers at SDSU taught 'love' right when it came out...i ended up writing a long paper on it...
i thought it was very good, but maybe a little unfocused for some reason...but what it had to say about contemporary youth culture i thought was very important...

i know this sounds goofy, but i wish this book was longer...


message 3: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Ha! Morrison doesn't often write short books! I'm curious about this one. I read the opening passages online (horrible way to read), and I recognized that Morrison meandering style that is so wonderful.

Miss it. : (


Jason i agree...
with everything you say...
online reading is not reading...

and i do miss morrison as well...i look at other writer's output, like joyce carol oates, or even (shudder) stephen king, and i wish the great writers could keep up the same absurdly prolific rate of publication...

it's understandable though...and unfortunate...


message 5: by Tracy (new)

Tracy I just bought it. How disgusting: 30 per cent off! I also got On Beauty by the author who wrote White Teeth.

I'm thinking these will be good books for next semester. . . and perhaps this winter??

It felt good to hold a new Morrison book in my hands! I am, however, very nervous about it - it feels like there is a ton of direct address to the reader/audience...and that makes me think, without reading it, that there is a feeling of terrific urgency to the novel/Morrison's need to tell this story.


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