23 January 2011

Not loving Love

Now that I’ve started this book review thing, I feel somewhat compelled to continue with it, at least as long as the whole book-every-few-weeks streak continues (and in so announcing, I’m sure I’ve just ended it). I’ve got another post in mind though, so I’ll make this one short.

I finished Love by Toni Morrison this week. I suppose it’s somewhat inevitable if you start with an author’s most famous and well-received work, but it seems that each Toni Morrison book I read is worse than the last. Granted, this is only #3 (following Beloved and Paradise), but they’re also in chronological order of publication, so it seems I might want to dig further back in the archives if I come back for more Morrison.

Love is supposedly a gripping novel about an intergenerational family struggle to wrest control of the affections and memory of a complicated patriarch. It felt like an unnecessarily meandering novella, part inartful Lolita, part cheap romance novel, part silly suspense story. In what I think was an attempt to make the story transportable, Morrison never really sets it in any location, which has the effect of making it rootless and untethered rather than universal. This was particularly strange when contrasted with the obsessive and confusing use of specific dates in the story line. So, the book ends up anchored in time and flitting about in space, without any characters interesting enough to drive the plot forward. 

I didn't actively hate it the way I have other books, but that was largely because I couldn't be bothered to care that much. If it had been more than 200 pages, I doubt I would have made the effort to finish the book. It makes me want to read Beloved again just to reinstill my faith in her as an author and in the Nobel Prize as an institution.

On a side note, I’m having trouble getting Blogger to upload a photo header in the right size and proportions. It doesn’t let me actually choose the pixel dimensions of my image, so I can’t just resize my photo to fit. If anyone has fought with this overly-simplistic template problem before and knows how to help, please let me know. The page will be prettier for your efforts.

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