Fantastic, Mythical Meditation of Four Generations
Toni Morrison's novel, "Song of Solomon," is a fantastic, mytical meditation written in earthy, poetic prose that expounds on the complexities of four generations of a black family and their life in the North and South. Morrison's examination of the past provides the reader a perspective that liberates the mind to appreciate that a person may not be able to change his roots, but he can change who he is and learn to appreciate, rather than despise, his past.
Morrison's central character, Milkman, gets his nickname from a local busybody who observes him nursing when he is well past weaning age. Socialized to despise being part of the richest black family in a Michigan town, Milkman decides love and commitment are unnecessary. He turns away from his father's greed, his mother's unloved passivity, his sisters' sterile virginity, and his outcast Aunt Pilate- a "raggedy bootlegger" who keeps her name in a box threaded to one ear. When his father- Macon Dead, for whom he is named- divulges a family past of murder and flight, Milkman begins a soul-cleansing quest. Like other black Americans, Milkman's retrieval of identity from obliteration helps him to shake off the "Dead" no-name state of his forebears.
Morrison writes in the vernacular of the time, breathing life into an intriguing and diverse set of characters. Through them she explores complex social and racial issues, dealing with them with a poet's heart. The book's story arc is both darkly tense and exuberant, teeming with fantastic events and symbolic embellishments. Comparisons with Alex Hailey's "Roots" are inevitable, but "Song of Solomon," unlike Haileys' opus, is a book of both historical fiction and elegant prose, a book well worth the reader's time.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
Pilates Song is a Strong One
I really enjoyed Toni Morrison's detailed account of this family's secrets and trials. Milkman is an amiable character, and the reader can see themselves in his shoes rather easily. The quest to uncover the family secret, along with the other bones that are uncovered, is both exciting and terrible. A very rich story with colorful characters.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.