Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 71: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

I have a question.

Has there been a well-regarded or lauded author you keep trying out as a reader but have never connected with their books?

Toni Morrison is my answer to that question.  I have attempted several of her books (Jazz, Paradise, and Love) over the years but have never truly connected with them.  I know those prior sentences would appear sacrilegious to many readers.  How could he not connect with the great Toni Morrison?  Well, I have learned over my reading life what the literary world has deemed as greatness (and deservedly so for Morrison) does not always float your boat as a reader.

Toni Morrison is the only author that has made me stubborn enough as a reader to keep trying her work.  I know for many readers if they don’t like an author or a book, they will put it down and read something else. Life is too short for books you don’t like or an author you don’t connect with.  I get that sentiment. If I had taken that cut and dry reading philosophy, then I would have left a lot of books unread.  Reading has never been about just liking or disliking a book for me.  It has always been about my connection to an author’s imagination and can they take me somewhere I have never been before or make me view human life from an unique perspective. I have learned a lot from the books that I did not like nearly as much as the ones I did.

Song of Solomon is a coming-of-age novel that chronicles the life of Milkman Dead, a Black man caught in arrested development. Morrison paints a vibrant portrait of black from the 1930s-1960s.  Milkman journeys from his hometown in Michigan to rural Pennsylvania and Virginia in a quest for legendary gold.  As he searches for gold, Milkman overcomes hardships, learns about his heritage, and finally makes it to adulthood. However, he’s being pursued by his fanatical childhood best friend Guitar, who believes Milkman will keep all the gold for himself after promising to gift him part of the sum. Morrison’s story which is dedicated to her father reveals the inner life of black men unlike any other novel in her impressive body of work.  Song of Solomon is one of Morrison’s masterworks (along with Beloved) and I can see why on several levels. This dense novel is one that will stretch your reading experience and the book that has finally let me appreciate Morrison’s art.

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