Wednesday, July 8, 2009

About Toni Morrison

After finishing Cormc McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses (a review is on its way), I picked up Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye. This is my first adventure into Toni Morrison's work, but already I see that her veneration as a great writer — as well as her Nobel Prize in Literature — is well-deserved. Toni Morrison's writing is just like the perfect woman: the perfect balance of eloquence and profanity, of femininity and grit. When I came across the following text, the opening of the "Winter" section, I just had to read it twice, and thought it worthy to share as an example of great writing. I wish I could write like this:

My daddy's face is a study. Winter moves into it and presides there. His eyes become a cliff of snow threatening to avalanche; his eyebrows bend like black limbs of leafless trees. His skin takes on the pale, cheerless yellow of winter sun; for a jaw he has the edges of a snowbound field dotted with stubble; his high forehead is the frozen sweep of the Erie, hiding currents of gelid thoughts that eddy in darkness. Wolf killer turned hawk fighter, he worked night and day to keep one from the door and the other from under the windowsills. A Vulcan guarding the flames, he gives us instructions about which doors to keep closed or opened for proper distribution of heat, lays kindling by, discusses qualities of coal, and teaches us how to rake, feed, and bank the fire. And he will not unrazor his lips until spring.

When it comes to reading literature, I've been somewhat of a serial monogamist since the sixth grade, latching on to an author and swallowing whole whatever parts of his library I could get my teeth on. First, there was John Bellairs, then Robin Cook, a relatively brief tryst with Stephen King, then Douglas Adams, Clive Barker, Kurt Vonnegut, Ayn Rand, William Burroughs, and most recently Neal Stephenson and Neil Gaiman. Toni Morrison may be my next long-term literary relationship.