Literary Fiction by People of Color discussion

Beloved
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message 1: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3685 comments Mod
This month we’ll be reading and discussing BELOVED by the great Toni Morrison. Ironically, the discussion starts a week after Banned Books Week (this week) which BELOVED happened to be on in 2012. Reasons given: sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence. Well, whadaya know.

If anyone would like to lead the discussion of this Pulitzer Prize winning classic, please let me know.


message 2: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3685 comments Mod
Our discussion for Beloved begins today. Has anyone read it? Where does this book fall among your favorites by this titan of American letters?

Of course, this months discussion was put together due to the untimely death of the author. On the day of her death, my oldest sister had contacted me knowing I’m an avid reader and asked if I had heard about her passing. I told her I had indeed read about it earlier in the day. She indicated she had read BELOVED years ago but admitted that it was really a struggle for her. That if she could be totally honest about it, she just didn’t get much of it. Of course, this is not the first time I’ve heard this about the author. Heck, I’ve experienced it in much of her work myself. Do you struggle at all with her prose or not?


Adrienna (adriennaturner) | 555 comments Columbus wrote: "This month we’ll be reading and discussing BELOVED by the great Toni Morrison. Ironically, the discussion starts a week after Banned Books Week (this week) which BELOVED happened to be on in 2012. ..."

Banned Book list? where? I had no idea. As a librarian, we have copies in the library I work in. They did remove it in another library though, and gained the copy for safe-keeping and to do this book read for the third time ever (to proceed with book club discussions).


Adrienna (adriennaturner) | 555 comments Columbus wrote: "Our discussion for Beloved begins today. Has anyone read it? Where does this book fall among your favorites by this titan of American letters?

Of course, this months discussion was put together du..."


Honestly, the first time I read it around high school/adult years, I did have a difficulty because of its complexity, harsh reality, and can get lost in the mix. The second time around, after seeing the movie with Oprah Winfrey and Lethal Weapon's Danny Glover (and didn't he also play in Color Purple which was his best role over in my book), and then read it, it was much clearer for me and even answered the unknown part(s) for me. Now will read it as an mature adult, nearly middle class age, and will see how it works for me...might even do a refresher with the movie.


Beverly | 2865 comments Mod
Yes, I have read Beloved.

While I have read Ms. Morrison's books in publication order as I found that helped me in reading her books, it did take me three tries to get into Beloved. I guess the third time was a charm as on that third try everything just feel into place.

And Beloved is one of my overall top reads.

I have learned that Ms. Morrison demands your full attention when reading her books. I have to make sure that there are no distractions in my mind and I am alert to be immersed in her wisdom.

Not surprised Beloved was on the banned book list as there is much knowledge and truth within the pages.


message 6: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 324 comments I've struggled with Beloved. It's a very challenging read for me and I've never made it all the way through. The reading experience is so intimate and yet so metaphorical. I'm hoping my reading abilities have matured a little since the last time I tried and I'm looking forward to participating this month.

I'm not sure anyone else would ever think so but in terms of pure reading experience it's similar for me to The Shawl by Cynthia Ozick...the way both authoers are using poetry and memory and repetition of sound, and elevated language, in a way that allows the reader to draw closer to a horrific truth about the past.


message 7: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3685 comments Mod
There are quite a few editions of this book and consequently many different Foreword’s provided by the author. Feel free to comment on any you may find, but for the sake of this discussion we’ll use the one from an August 2003 edition. Here’s the Foreword and also the discussion schedule for this month:

Foreword:
https://www.press.umich.edu/pdf/04720...

Schedule:
Today thru Oct 11 - Chap 1
Oct 12 thru Oct 20 - Chap 1/2
Oct 21 ENTIRE BOOK OPEN!


dianne b. | 19 comments I'm finding I can't read very much at one sitting. Ms. Morrison's ability to place us (me) there, then is too profound, too intensely personal for me to take in more than one vignette. I almost have to stop for air.
I'd never have survived.

This absolutely should be mandatory reading in the USA. After that maybe we can start to talk about what is owed in reparations.


Sheri Maple (sheridm) | 1 comments I read Beloved in the beginning of August. It's a difficult book with not a happy ending. Some people there is one but I don't as there a couple of things are left in the air.


message 10: by Michael (new) - added it

Michael | 432 comments Just started this today, it will be my first Toni Morrison book. So far it does seem to be challenging for me to follow, with the metaphorical and sometimes stream of consciousness text. I reread a few sections to make sure I had my bearings, and Ms. Morrison's Foreward was helpful in that regard, although slightly spoilery.


BiblioGeek (bibliogeek71) | 3 comments This book is about love.

I've read and re-read Beloved (a few times). Every time I read it, I find something I didn't notice before. I think what strikes me the most about this book (and a few of Morrison's other works) is the way love presents itself in the characters' lives. And how each character has a very different, broadly sketched idea of what love means to them and how it manifests itself. The best example of this is the conversation between Sethe and Paul D, after he learns about what Sethe had done. To Sethe, her actions made complete sense. To him, they were horrific.

There are other examples - Baby Suggs and her son, and Baby Suggs and her congregation. Baby Suggs' sermon is about love - what it is, what it is not. How to show it. How to live it, in spite of being surrounded by "Not" love.

That's mostly what I get from this book.


message 12: by Dedra (new) - added it

Dedra (deelynae) | 1 comments The language that Toni Morrison uses to humanize the lives of formerly enslaved people was completely groundbreaking back in 1987, and now, 32 years after it was published, there is no other work of fiction that can compare to it. I have started and restarted reading Beloved probably about a dozen times in my life. I finally picked up the audiobook and let Toni read it to me. I'm so glad that she read all of her own books for the audiobook version. It really does make a difference.


message 13: by Mary (new)

Mary | 20 comments I have read all of her books but I didn’t know she did the narration for the audio editions. I’m planning to listen to them this time - starting with BELOVED. Thank you for posting this info.


Franklinbadger | 15 comments Hi everyone! I just finished this but don't have any coherent thoughts yet, except that it's an incredible book. Sheri - I'd love to hear your thoughts on the ending, if you don't mind sharing them.


message 15: by Michael (last edited Oct 08, 2019 06:51PM) (new) - added it

Michael | 432 comments I'm definitely awed by the beauty of Ms. Morrison's writing. I still find the jumps back and forth between times and character's thoughts confusing, but in her preface she did say she "wanted the reader to be kidnapped, thrown ruthlessly into an alien environment as the first step into a shared experience with the book's population - just as the characters were snatched from one place to another, from any place to any other, without preparation or defense." Evidently the disorientation is intentional.

And despite my occasional confusion, I am definitely feeling the impact of the imagery and emotional jolt of these characters' experiences. There are so many things to unpack and process here, I barely know where to start.

Also, just noticing that section "1" is 200 pages! I guess I should have started this sooner in order to keep up with the discussion. I'll try and do my best...


message 16: by Ardene (new)

Ardene (booksnpeaches) | 26 comments This will be a reread for me (if I make it through.) I read it when it first came out. I've read only the first chapter so far. I find the writing beautiful and the subject wrenching.


message 17: by Michael (new) - added it

Michael | 432 comments Here are some quotes from section 1 that caught my attention:

"If a Negro got legs he ought to use them. Sit down too long, somebody will figure out a way to tie them up."

"Not even trying, he had become the kind of man who could walk into a house and make the women cry. Because with him, in his presence, they could. There was something blessed in his manner."

"But maybe a man was nothing but a man, which is what Baby Suggs always said. They encouraged you to put some of your weight in their hands and soon as you felt how light and lovely that was, they studied your scars and tribulations, after which they did what he had done: ran her children out and tore up the house."

"Some things go. Pass on. Some things just stay. I used to think it was my rememory. You know. Some things you forget. Other things you never do. But it's not. Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, it's gone, but the place - the picture of it - stays, and not just in my rememory, but out there, in the world. What I remember is a picture floating around out there outside my head. I mean, even if I don't think it, even if I die, the picture of what I did, or knew, or saw is still out there. Right in the place where it happened."

"He saw them boys do that to me and let them keep on breathing air? He saw? He saw? He saw?"
"Hey! Hey! Listen up. Let me tell you something. A man ain't a goddamn ax. Chopping, hacking, busting every goddamn minute of the day. Things get to him. Things he can't chop down because they're inside."


"During, before and after the War he had seen Negroes so stunned, or hungry, or tired or bereft it was a wonder they recalled or said anything. Who, like him, had hidden in caves and fought owls for food; who, like him, stole from pigs; who, like him, slept in trees in the day and walked by night; who, like him, had buried themselves in slop and jumped in wells to avoid regulators, raiders, paterollers, veterans, hill men, posses and merrymakers."

"She hoped it calmed him as it did her. Like kneading bread in the half-light of the restaurant kitchen. Before the cook arrived when she stood in a space no wider than a bench is long, back behind and to the left of the milk cans. Working dough. Working, working dough. Nothing better than that to start the day's serious work of beating back the past."


dianne b. | 19 comments i have finished this masterpiece. Feeling tempest tossed (as was intended) destroyed and furious, deeply sad and awed.
My review:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Thanks to this group for finally making me read this work of genius.
Knowing its plot, i've been too afraid to, until now.


message 19: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3685 comments Mod
Chaps 1/2 discussing thru the 20th


Adrienna (adriennaturner) | 555 comments Dedra wrote: "The language that Toni Morrison uses to humanize the lives of formerly enslaved people was completely groundbreaking back in 1987, and now, 32 years after it was published, there is no other work o..."

yes, I am waiting for the audiobook while reading the physical one. Since the library is taking too long, reading the first part...


Carissa McCray | 26 comments The most interesting idea of this story is the truth of it. Morrison based this novel on the real story of Margaret Garner.


message 22: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3685 comments Mod
Entire book open for discussion


William (be2lieve) | 1239 comments Mod
What really surprises me is that this far into the month no one has mentioned Morrison's employment of spirits and the supernatural into this novel. She really taped into some ancient ancestor stuff with this one but : I'm not rereading this months book selection because I thought that the book was not only a bit difficult to follow but I grew increasingly frustrated with the use of a "ghost" to move the plot forward when read years ago. Of course I'm aware that the ghosts of the past determine much of present day action. And this is particularly true in the Black community where the ghosts/ancestors have suffered unspeakable horrors.
But a book where one can hardly distinguish between actions committed in the earthly or the ghostly reality gave me pause and a lot of head scratching. Was I the only one to think such passage between reality and supernatural a bit oft putting? I know that Morrison said a lot in the book. (imagine an oppression where its better to die at your mothers hand than to suckle at her tit) but I just didn't find it very earthshaking (because of Beloved/ghost trope) or enjoyable.
I've only reread a very few books. I do think I should read this one again.


message 24: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3685 comments Mod
Thanks to all who contributed to the discussion of Beloved by the great, Toni Morrison. The thread will be open to add any additional comments or thoughts you may have.


Adrienna (adriennaturner) | 555 comments William wrote: "What really surprises me is that this far into the month no one has mentioned Morrison's employment of spirits and the supernatural into this novel. She really taped into some ancient ancestor stuf..."

I spoke with a professor the other day who said it was difficult for her to read this book as well. However, I enjoyed the ghost like thing--which is another way to see one's loved ones who passed on or ancestors such as the Natives (Indigenous people) and/or Africans believe in. I like how she gave the symbolic, metaphoric meanings in the book (e.g. Seth's husband rubbing butter all over his face after seeing her being raped and drinking her milk; milk churned turns into butter...and this is the aftermath of him facing such a brutal act being done and churned into his madness).

I am re-reading it, but as stated before, I read this during H.S. years and the more and more I read it, get newer understandings of the literature and how to face slavery in a new light.


Dedra Muhammad | 4 comments Dedra wrote: "The language that Toni Morrison uses to humanize the lives of formerly enslaved people was completely groundbreaking back in 1987, and now, 32 years after it was published, there is no other work o..."

My name is also Dedra (Smile), and Toni Morrison is certainly one of my, if not my favorite author of all times. Beloved was not my favorite book by her, but I am glad I read it. I found it to be deeply emotional.


Adrienna (adriennaturner) | 555 comments dedra which book is your favorite? in my other book club group that meets weekly, we're reading the "bluest eye". first time read, and with a primarily Male group, it brings a lot of conversation.


Dedra Muhammad | 4 comments I would have to say Song of Solomon. I read The Bluest Eye for the first time whenever I was in 12th grade. I have read it at least twice since then.


Dedra Muhammad | 4 comments Adrienna wrote: "dedra which book is your favorite? in my other book club group that meets weekly, we're reading the "bluest eye". first time read, and with a primarily Male group, it brings a lot of conversation."

Adrienne,
I would have to say Song of Solomon. I read The Bluest Eye for the first time whenever I was in 12th grade. I have read it at least twice since then.
Reading the Bluest Eye with Men should have proved to be very interesting.


message 30: by Erin (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erin (erinm31) | 22 comments I know it’s way after the group discussion, but recently finished reading Beloved myself and found it very moving and powerful. I had been rather ambivalent about Sula (the first and so far only other book I’ve read by Toni Morrison) largely because I felt the story was told at too great a distance from the characters but wow that was not the case here. I had mixed feelings about the magical realism at first, especially the ghost manifesting, but the book was so powerful, I can’t say it would be better with or without, maybe on another reading I shall analyze but for now I have just experienced it and reflect on all it has said.


Adrienna (adriennaturner) | 555 comments just finished tar baby, sadly this one im not a fan. it was okay and picked up after chapter 4


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Literary Fiction by People of Color

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Beloved (other topics)
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Toni Morrison (other topics)