In France, a literature similar to traditionnal afro-american literature (Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Alex Haley…etc) is not as strong as in U.S.A, I think. We have a lot of essays, of history books, but novels… Not so many. Somehow, I share this afro-american culture which screams the “black History” or “black culture”, because I hardly found something or I never heard anything similar here. Don’t get me wrong, maybe I just don’t know and probably did not go further, but the fact is my mother fed me of these movies like Color Purple and so on, when I was very young. I was 8 when I saw ROOTS for the first time. Since that day, I watch it every year like a ritual (if you want I will talk about that another time). Therefore, it’s in this afro-american influence that my mother adviced me to read Toni Morrison. God, I avoided it during a long, long, long time. Toni’s book alone on my desk, or my bed, or in my bag. Never in my hands. Don’t ask me why, I have no idea. Then, this year for christmas, Home got succesfull in France and, for once, I agreed to read something which was popular in medias and dropped my past century books that I love so much.
Let’s go further after this long introduction : I read Home. Yep. I read it and this book made me feel dizzy. As if I did not correctly hold it, as if I was guilty of something that I did not know. The atmosphere of the novel is heavy, systematically drowning you in a deep way. It is not something that you read to relax, you read it in order to see how look Truth. Not the noble one, the one that we congratulate with a moral weight. No, the other one, the ugly truth of History. Frank, the main character, could steal some sympathy from us. Page after page we could feel sorry and close from his intimate misery, the misery of a survivor soldier after Korea War. Yes, we could, but his life is so ugly by his authenticity that it is uncomfortable to know all the details. It’s uncomfortable to see that we cannot not judge him. How hard we try to understand his sister or him, to understand this reckless and bitter America… We can’t not judge.
I would be interested to know how American readers felt during their reading.
The fact is reading Toni Morrison’s book was tough. It was like eating something so thick that, even if it is good, we don’t really know if we’ll have a stomackhake after that. My opinion will seem mixed to you, so let’s be clear : I liked it . I don’t know why, probably because her way of writing “acted” on me, touched me, troubled me. After finishing this book, I felt… thirsty. Yeah. Thirsty. The history itself did not entertain me so much, because it needed to be digested. Analized. It’s just I needed to read more. Like “Toni, what’s happening to me ? what’s going on ?” This is the reason why, now, when I take the metro, I try to find a seat. Not seats which will need to be available when it’s crowded. A comfortable seat. Only then, I can open my purse, letting run my hand in the bottom, and take Tar Baby, another Toni Morrison’s book.
I don’t really know what to think about Toni’s books, because it’s not about to think but to feel.
What I know though, is that I don’t feel thirsty anymore.
P.S : Good news, this blog will be updated more often now. I closed my others blogs because this one is the most authentic. Let’s see where we’ll go.