Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, book review

Tears, ebony tears, that turn to type and illuminate

I've read Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison going on four or five times now, floored, awestruck, enraptured each time, every twist and turn a new surprise arrives. Milkman is a wonderful archetype for a Black man searching for what he can claim as his own. His mind, his body, his sex, money? What is his and not tainted by the past, by racism, by internal family feuding? This is what I call a "Patience Book", you have to sit with it the way you would sit with a child on a Sunday afternoon. Patience. You have to breathe in rhythm with this book. Morrison is one of those few writers that it's silly to ask all of your questions of even after you finish the book.

Pick it right back up and breathe, savor each page, have patience. It is not an easy read for it is literature and you are reading, truly reading. Not surfing through pulp fiction knowing that the hero lives, the heroine is saved and everybody sleeps well on the last page. Uh uh. Patience. What else but patience could you use to understand Magdalene, Pilate, Corinthians? My all time, all time, all time favorite literary scene that chills me, tears me up, knocks me around hard and then uplifts me: Pilate at the funeral. "That was my baby, That's my baby, AND SHE WAS LOVED!"

Honey, welcome to real African American literature, impossible to translate to film for this is patience reading. Patience, free at last, free at last!

As we explore manhood as African American men, we're challenged as Milkman Dead is in this book to separate ourselves form our carnal desires and our parents.  Following along the trajectory of Joseph Campbell's identification of the hero on a quest, Milkman must confront the ghosts, demons and histories of the family he was born into.  We then spiral through the Seven Days who for every Black person killed, kill a White person and then into Milkman's sisters and their imprisonment in the times they live in, even as privileged women.  Morrison's attention to historical detail and social alertness to positioning this book between the early 1900's up through the 1970's forces the reader to understand that Civil Rights didn't exist for everyone in the same way, in fact many Blacks were at first frightened about desegregation.  Discover this book, read it, then read it again, maybe even buy the audio version sometimes on a Sunday I put on one of Ms. Morrison's audio books and let her amazing voice lull me through the day, the poetry of her words, a passage suddenly appearing from the ether, anew line caught that I don't remember me.

"That was my baby, That's my baby, AND SHE WAS LOVED!"

Thank you!
Kyle Phoenix
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