Home is a compelling read that makes you feel that Morrison has got compact, powerful stories just brimming from her imagination. While the ending of the book is, in some ways, a bit pat, the story reminds us of how human damage is chronic and contagious, and of how loving support is an anchor in a world of racists and sexists and men of violence.
I was lucky enough to see Toni Morrison speak at Northeastern University a couple of months ago, where she read from Home. I wrote a piece about the event, but cannot remember where I published it. Here are three paragraphs from that piece:
I saw Toni Morrison speak this afternoon. Can you believe that she was born in 1931 – that in a few weeks she is going to be 82 years old? She was brought onto stage in a wheelchair and gave her brilliant presentation sitting down. Her slouch hat almost entirely covered her eyes, so that when she looked up and we could peek under the brim, the radiance of her eyes nearly matched that of her dazzling smile…
From the moment Toni Morrison was wheeled onstage, she held the standing-room-only crowd completely and entirely in her hands – and she was clearly used to the attention and the adulation. She read from her latest book Home, infusing her prose – always constructed from everyday words – with the emotion and flow of genius. This is a woman who has won every conceivable literature prize and national honor, but who maintains her wit and giggle.
Most revealing was the question and answer session… When asked how she achieves her books’ unique points of view, she said, “To take away the gaze of the white male. Once you take that out, the whole world opens up.” She suggested that this is a common approach of top black women writers, but not of African-American male writers, who are more likely to be wrestling with a prominent white male character.