If you're looking for some lighthearted reading, stay away from this book. Toni Morrison's masterpiece is dark, moody, and almost suffocatingly sad from its first eerie pages to the final bizarre climax. The novel is about ex-slaves trying to escape their collective past in Ohio, but Morrison sets this theme in the context of one of the most disturbing ghost stories ever written.
The story begins in 1873. Sethe is a former slave living at 124 Bluestone Road in Cincinnati, Ohio. The house is haunted. She believes, and with good reason as it turns out, that the ghost is that of her dead daughter, Beloved. Whoever the spectre represents, it has terrified Sethe's children, and not left Sethe a moment's rest.
When Paul D. emerges from the past and takes up residence at 124, he tries with all his temporal and emotional strength to center the house in reality, to bring peace and a flesh-and-blood sensibility to its skittish inhabitants. But the guest is also targeted by the ghost, and he isn't always able to hold it at bay, especially when it attempts to seduce him.
Beloved the ghost is, of course, symbolic of the psychological damage left on its victims by the institution of slavery; Beloved the novel is a Pulitzer Prize-winning stream-of-consciousness literary experiment that succeeds on nearly every level. Whether you're a fan of ghost stories or not, if you want to understand and appreciate contemporary American literature, you need to read this book.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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