Love by Toni Morrison

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When I say I wasn’t a Toni Morrison fan, I mean I really wasn’t a Toni Morrison fan. I read Beloved for my Mother-Daughter-Book-Club and my mother and I were unimpressed, weirded out, scared off. I had no intention of reading another T-Mo book, except that my friend Olivia, one of my best friends since the second grade kept talking about her. “You should read some of her shorter stuff, she’s really good!” Olivia and I have similar tastes (though she loved Beloved) so i said I’d give her another shot.

I have this list of books I want to read. At the moment it is totaled at 819 books, so basically it’s like winning the lottery for the book that is chosen randomly. Lucky for my my mouse landed on Love.

I searched through the Waterstone’s in St. Andrews, 4 bookstores in London, but to no avail. I guess Toni is more popular in my good ol’ USA.  By the time I met up with Olivia in Paris I was desperate for a book. I had endured two plane rides with nothing but my Art History textbook for company.

When I told Olivia I was looking for Love she smiled at me smugly. We entered Shakespeare and Co. Bookstore, mere feet away from Notre Dame Cathedral.

Shakespeare and Company Bookstore is literally  my favorite place in the world. The walls are crawling in books, the aisles so thin that I had to squeeze through to get to the next room as the ghosts of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Alan Ginsberg floated around my head. There is a piano up the rickety stairs with a man playing flawlessly, artistic people sitting around reading on little cushions. “This is what heaven looks like,” Olivia breathed in my ear. We didn’t want to pop the dream that had become our reality, and speaking seemed like something that would do just that.

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Then something crazy happened. At the top of the M fiction bookshelf I saw not one, but two copies of Toni Morrison’s Love. I climbed my first bookshop ladder (a personal dream) and brought them both down. The paperback was expensive, but of course I was going to buy it. After all my searching I wasn’t about to let this go. I looked inside the hardcover, just in case, and saw the delicately penciled in first edition 14 euros. Now tell me you don’t believe in fate.

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I started Love that night, expecting to despise it, but I didn’t. In fact I have rarely been so attached to a book. The problem with Beloved  was it was completely unreliable. The daughter I beheaded to save from slavery hasn’t come back to haunt me in the form of a beautiful teenager. I don’t do fantastical realism. Love, grabbed onto my heart and squeezed it.

Love tells the story of a recently dead hotel owner, Bill Cosey through the perspective of several different women with differing relationships to him, his granddaughter, his employees, his wife, and his murderer. Though the story orbits around Bill Cosey, it really tells the story of a broken friendship between his granddaughter, Christine, and his wife, Heed.

Friendship is one of the most rewarding and painful institutions set up by humankind. They are plagued by envy, and overcome with adoration. Its ironic that Olivia, my best friend since I was eight years old, got me back on the Morrison track to read the most beautiful book on friendship I have ever encountered.

Because the book continually switches perspective, the reader is able to remain objective, while simultaneously having a close relationship with each character. The book is beautifully written and organized in such an enticing way. There is a constant element of mystery, Toni lets out the secrets one by one, developing the story effortlessly and masterfully.

I started Love loathing Toni Morrison.  I finished it wanting to be her.

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