Home and God Save the Child

Those are last two novels by Toni Morrison that I read last year and haven’t written a review on yet. It’s been a couple of months since I finished them and I’m sure I’ve already forgotten some of the details, but I want to write about them before they fade from my memory even more. As all the other books by Morrison, I liked them both, though Home more than God Save the Child.

Photo of the Paperbacks

Home tells the life stories of a brother and a sister, Frank and Ycidra Money. It’s told in alternative chapters in third person point-of-view and in first person. The first person is the voice of Frank, who provides key details to illuminate the chapters in between. As usual in Morrison’s novel, the timeline in not linear but loops back and forth between the past and the present of the novel. Frank is a veteran who served in the Korean war. He is locked up in a hospital for the insane, because he has flashbacks and fits, PTSD, I guess. We learn about his life since the war and during the war and about things that happened during his childhood. He receives a letter telling him that his sister, Ycidra (known as “Cee”) is very ill and maybe dying at her employer’s house, a gynecologist who did experiments on her. Frank, who has always felt responsible for and protective of his sister, makes her rescue his new purpose in life. He escapes from the hospital and travels to his sister. He manages to liberate her from the house of the horrific doctor and takes her to their hometown in Georgia, where the women of the community nurse her until she recovers.

Throughout the novel, we learn a lot about the two main characters, including a shocking incident in Frank’s life, wherein he committed a war crime. He leads up to the confession of it through misdirection but later tells the truth that he had been hiding from himself. And why did he commit the crime? Because he was made to feel disgusted about himself (very vague to avoid spoilers).

I have to say that the crux of the novel, Frank’s act, really shook me. Here I was liking Frank; he’s trying to be a decent guy, looking after his sister, dealing with his PTSD from the war, finding peace by returning to his home with his sister (a home they couldn’t leave soon enough when they were younger) and then this revelation. I found this harder to deal with than what Sethe did in Beloved, because Sethe acted out of misguided love and mercy, but Frank acted out of concern for himself (and it wasn’t a life or death situation for him). Very hard to emphasize with or even understand. So, it’s a memorable tale to mull over. I’m sure I will reread it eventually and maybe I will be less puzzled about it.

The novel, although short, also has at least one other main theme concerning a crime that Frank and Cee witness as children but didn’t quite understand. And it also tells the stories of some of their relatives; their father and mother, their grandparents.

God Save the Child is Morrison’s last novel. It tells the story of Bride and Booker, and the people their lives touch. Bride is a successful model, very dark-skinned who was an embarrassment to her mother because of her blackness. She was born very dark-skinned to a light-skinned couple whose marriage broke apart because of this “embarrassment”. So Bride spends all her childhood trying to gain her mother’s approval and love. Only once does she get it and that was for a lie, a lie that had terrible consequences for another person. Once Bride is grown up and has her modelling life, she no longer has much contact with her mother. She leads a very superficial unattached life until she meets Booker. Booker is from a loving, supportive family, but he is estranged from them because of a tragedy to which he thinks his family reacted inappropriately (I don’t think they did). Booker also rejects Bride, saying to her “You not the woman I want”. Bride becomes obsessed with him and searches for him after he left. When she finds him, they tell each other the pivotal events from their childhood that made them act the way they did. Their breakup was due to misunderstanding each other. They reconnect and the novel ends with Bride becoming pregnant. Her mother, Sweetness (what a name – she was anything but sweet to her daughter) exclaims:

“Listen to me. You are about to find out what it takes, how the world is, how it works and how it changes when you are a parent. Good luck and God help the child.”

Morrison, God Help the Child, last page.

Bride was messed up because of her upbringing and Booker was messed up because of what happened to his family (even though his parent were very supportive, quite different from Sweetness). I suppose that now Bride and Booker have a chance to do better for their child. Or not. No-one can foresee the future.

The novels are hard to rank because they are all so good, but this is my final ranking after reading all of them last year (I’ve changed the ranking since my last review):

  1. Beloved
  2. Song of Solomon
  3. Paradise
  4. The Bluest Eye
  5. Jazz
  6. Sula
  7. A Mercy
  8. Home
  9. Love
  10. God Help the Child
  11. Tar Baby

A Mercy

by Toni Morrison. I read this novel in October last year and never got around to writing a review. It’s a slim novel, set during colonial times in America, at the end of the 17th century. Like all of Morrison’s novels, it is told in a non-linear way, with lots of flashes forward and backward in time.

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The story centers around Florens, a young black slave who is sold by her Spanish Catholic aristocratic owner from Maryland to Jacob Vaark, a Dutch Protestant who takes Florens in lieu of a trading debt to his farm in the North. He hopes that Florens, who is eight years old at the time, will be company for his wife Rebekkah, who has just lost her little daughter. Rebekkah, however, resents Florens, and she is claimed as a sort of daughter by Lina, a Native American servant of the Vaarks.

The novel is alternatively told by Florens (in the first person) and by the other characters of the novels (in the third person). The reader learns that Jacob is a self-made man, who makes his living by trading. He manages to get a farm and has a woman brought over from Holland to become his wife. Rebekkah is at first scared to be leaving her home, but she is reconciled when she finds that her life with Jacob on the farm is better that the life she led in Holland. On the farm there’s also Messalina (Lina), a servant. She is the last survivor of her Native American tribe, and she represses her memories to be able to survive. At first Rebekkah doesn’t get along with Lina but they soon become friends, as Jacob often leaves them alone to look after the farm while he is away on trading journeys. Rebekkah’s children all die as babies except for Patrician, a daughter, who survives until she is about 5 years old and is killed by a horse by accident. There’s also a young, mentally unstable woman called Sorrow at the farm, who was also brought along by Jacob. She survived a shipwreck and lived for a time with a Protestant religious sect but was given to Jacob after she was raped and became pregnant by one of the men of the community. Lina, although she doesn’t like her, helps her during childbirth, but the child is born dead or is killed by Lina, which is what Sorrow thinks. This may be true, but the reader can’t be sure, as Sorrow is an unreliable narrator (as are all the narrators).

Jakob, having seen how Florens’ master lived in Florida, in a great mansion, somehow becomes convinced that he also needs a kind of manor house. He spends a lot of money building it and hires a free African blacksmith to build elaborate iron gates for his new house. Florens falls in love with and has an affair with the blacksmith, who, however, rides off without any farewell to Florens. Sorrow had been healed of the pox by the blacksmith, but Jacob and Rebekkah also catch it. Jakob dies in his unfinished new house and Rebekkah, afraid of dying herself, sends Florens after the African to fetch him back. Florens does find him (after some encounters with people who had never seen a black person before and feared that she was a devil). The blacksmith leaves Florens at his house to look after an orphaned boy, Malaik, while he rides back to minister to Rebekkah. Florens, who has always resented her mother for sending her away and her baby brother for being allowed to stay, is jealous and mistreats the boy. Because of this, on his return, the blacksmith rejects Florens for being a slave in her mind. Florens has to return to the farm, where things are falling apart after Jacob’s death.

Rebekkah has joined a pious community and has become cruel to her friend Lina. She wants to sell Florens and send Sorrow away, but Sorrow, now calling herself “Complete” because she had another child, wants to flee with Florens. But Florens first needs time to write her story onto the walls of the unfinished new house, as a kind of justification to the blacksmith, who may one day see her writing (she had learnt to read and write in secret from a Catholic priest while still in Maryland).

The last few pages of the novel are told by Florens mother, who tells how she sent Florens away as “a mercy”, because Jacob Vaark saw her as a person, not a thing. She wants Florens to have a chance, however slim, of another life, free from becoming the sexual toy of her master. Florens never learns that her rejection by her mother was meant as a mercy. She doesn’t hear the wisdom her mother tried to teach her.

When the novel ends, the reader doesn’t know what will happen to Florens, Sorrow, and Lina.

The novel shows many different aspects of life in the American colonies during the late 17th century. There are people from different cultures of Europe, Africa and America itself. Slavery is shown in its cruelty. Even characters who are against slavery, like Jacob, still engage with it. He owns Florens and his wife threatens to sell her after his death. Lina and Sorrow are also unfree and so are the indentured servants Will and Scully, who never seems to gain their freedom, even though they are paid wages – but they at least can hope to someday gain their liberty. There’s the free African, who doesn’t show much respect for Florens. They are lovers, but he leaves her without a backward glance and later rejects her for having internalized slavery – though how could she have done else, with no other experience? Still, this experience seems to have gained her a certain understanding of herself:

I am become wilderness but I am also Florens. In full. Unforgiven. Unforgiving. No ruth, my love. None. Hear me? Slave. Free. I last.

Morrison, Toni: A Mercy. Vintage Books. New York, 2009. p. 161

This understanding shows that there is no mercy, no ruth, despite what her mother hoped for her. But she has become strong and will endure, whatever happens. The sadness remains that she can’t tell her mother and she still doesn’t know what her mother was trying to tell her when she left. And her mother will never know what happened to Florens.

I liked this novel a lot. It is the only novel of Morrison’s that deals with life in the American colonies before independence. It is many-facetted as usual, and my review only touches on some of the main themes. I heartily recommend it.

My ranking of Morrison’s novels. The novels are hard to rank because they are all so good:

  1. Beloved
  2. Paradise
  3. Jazz
  4. Song of Solomon
  5. Sula
  6. A Mercy
  7. Love
  8. The Bluest Eye
  9. Tar Baby

December Reading

In December I had to work up to and including the 23rd (very busy I was, too. It was dreadful). Afterwards I had lots of time for reading, but I also got some books read before Christmas.

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Poetry:

  • Patrick Crotty (ed.), The Penguin Book of Irish Poetry
    I got almost to the half-way mark in this amazingly good anthology. It’s a big hardcover and I didn’t feel like lugging it to Bavaria, so I read some other poems while I was there (from December 10 to 31).
  • Janet E. Gardner et al. (ed.), Literature: A Portable Anthology. 4th Edition
    This anthology contains 200 poems and I didn’t quite manage to finish all of them while I was in Bavaria. They were a good selection and I posted a couple of poems during December that especially struck me. I’ll finish these poems next time I’m in Bavaria. A lot of them were more modern than most of the other poems I read this year. I think I would like to read an anthology of modern poetry sometime this year.

Non-Fiction:

  • James Boswell, The Life of Johnson (1791)
    I started this on Christmas and almost finished it by the end of the year (had 150 pages left and finished it in the first days of 2012). It’s huge, around 1000 pages with quite small print in my Penguin Classic edition. Between Christmas Eve and the New Year, I did almost nothing except read this book, eat cookies and take Curious Dog for his walks. I loved it. It’s very lively and makes both the writer (Boswell) and subject, Samuel Johnson, come alive. I will write a review.
  • Bella DePaulo, Alone: The Badass Psychology of People Who Like Being Alone
    This was a disappointment. A publication of a lot of blog posts, very repetitive and seemed superficial. This was the worst book I read all year. I won’t be writing a review. Luckily it was a very cheap Kindle version.

Novels:

  • Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist and A Tale of Two Cities
    My November and December final Dickens novels. Both were good but I preferred AToTC and I still plan to write reviews, although I’m rather behind with them.
  • Toni Morrison, Home and God Help the Child
    My final two Morrison novels. Good, as always, and also still waiting for their reviews. They were both short novels.
  • Ernest Cline, Ready Player One and Ready Player Two
    The first was a re-read, the second had just been published. I liked them both.
  • Elizabeth Wein, Code Name Verity
    A very well-written Young Adult spy novel set in WWII. I had to read it for my book club and quite enjoyed it but found it too constructed. Everything fell into place like a completed puzzle, no open ends, no missing pieces. Everything was explained, there was no ambiguity (well, there was ambiguity, but it was too obvious). Too pat for me. Although, I probably would have liked it a lot as a teenager. I think it succeeds very well at what it set out to do but it didn’t do much for me, except that I learned that there were women pilots in WWII (not in the British Air Force itself, but in supporting positions). That was fascinating and new to me.

I managed to read more than half of the books I had planned to read by the end of 2020, as posted here. All the ones that I didn’t get to are still on my TBR-pile for 2021. One I have already read in January, but that will be part of my January Reading post.

I hope to get all the reviews from December done by the end of January. I should probably have made a goal that I shouldn’t start a new book before I’ve written a review of the one just finished (if I want to write a review).

Keep safe, world.

November Reading

It doesn’t really make much sense to do my normal post about my monthly reading for November, as I only read one book, but I’ll do it anyway for completeness sake. I’m looking forward to tallying up my yearly reading at the end of December. I won’t have met all my goals, I don’t think, but I didn’t do too badly.

Ongoing projects:

  • Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
    Done, already in October. This year’s read along with one of my best friends brought to a triumphant conclusion. It was a great read, and I hope to get around to writing a report on in. Next year we are going to read The Tale of Genji, by Murasaki Shikibu, a Japanese classic
  • Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy
    This one I’ve given up on (for now), but it was only a tentative goal.

Poetry:

Patrick Crotty (ed.), The Penguin Book of Irish Poetry
I did read my daily poem (or more) each morning in bed in November. Actually, I started this collection in October and forgot to mention it. It’s very good. I’m already almost halfway through and am really loving it.

Short stories:

Complete fail. No short stories were read in November.

Non-fiction:

For non-fiction November I read Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia by Rebecca West and it completely derailed the rest of my reading. But no regrets. It was a stimulating read!

Graphic novel:

Total fail. I’m still not feeling like reading graphic novels. I bet I’ll have missed this goal.

Novels:

None. I started reading Oliver Twist, but didn’t continue once I started BL&GF. I started it again in December and have now finished it, but it was a fail for November. No Toni Morrison either.

I didn’t meet my goals in November, but as the one book I read had 1232 pages, I’m quite happy.

Love

Is the title of the Toni Morrison novel that I read back in September. It’s a short novel with just 202 pages, but, wow, a great story, told from the perspective of many different characters, mostly in third-person narrative except for one character who speaks in the first person. It’s set in the 1990s but tells the stories of characters’ lives that reach back at least to the 1920s.

The novel is about all the women that have some kind of relationship with Bill Cosey, a successful Black hotel owner. He has a beach resort that used to be a meeting place for famous black musicians. It was very successful and made him rich, but in the 1990s it’s been shut down for years and only two women remain, Heed and Christine, who fight over Bill’s inheritance in a mutual dependent hate relationship.

Bill Cosey’s first wife was Julia. They seemed to have had a loving relationship and one son, Billy. But Julia died young. Billy married a woman named May, and they had a child, Christine. As Billy also died young, May was very concerned that Christine should became her grandfather’s heir, but Bill didn’t care for Christine, as she had the same grey eyes as his father. Bill hated his father, even though he gained a fortune from him, because the father got his money by acting as an informer for the police. Bill himself had a somewhat cordial relationship with the town’s white administration (even with the sheriff), but they only got along because he bribed them, either directly or by inviting them to lavish parties on his boat.

Christine, as a young girl of 11 had a friend named Heed the Night who was from a very poor black family. They had a very deep relationship, had their own private language and were best friends. But that ended when Bill molested and later married Heed when she was just 11. Christine viewed this as a betrayal by Heed and after that their relationship was poisoned and marked by hate. Heed couldn’t speak of her molestation and Christine, who felt dirty because she saw Bill masturbate in her room, could also not speak of it. Both felt dirtied by these experiences. Christine grew up and left her home, but had to return later, destitute. She then lived with Heed in the house that Heed had inherited from Bill, who was dead long ago (being so much older than her). The will was a very strange one, just a line on an old restaurant menu. Christine sought to contest the will and Heed sought to forge a better one with the aid of a young woman just out of juvenile jail, Junior Viviane.

Junior sees a picture of Bill and is fascinated by him. She imagines him as a kind of father figure while also having sexual thought about him. She is hired by Heed to find old papers with Bill’s handwriting to then forge a definite will that can’t be contested. Junior has a love affair with a younger boy, Romen, who is the grandson of Vida and Sandler Gibbon, who were both employees and kind of friends with Bill. Junior is a manipulator and is at least partly responsible for an accident that caused Heed’s death.

Another woman in Bill’s circle of women is Celestial, who appears to have been his lover. She was an object of admiration and fascination to Christine and Heed when they were still friends, but she doesn’t otherwise appear much in the novel. Bill, however, fed up with the other women in his life, specially Heed, May and Christine, wanted to leave all his fortune to her. In this he was foiled by his friend L, who was also his cook. L had a lot of influence on Bill, and loved him as a friend, but was critical of his marriage with Heed and the destruction of the friendship between Christine and Heed. She didn’t let him ruin their lives further by leaving them destitute after his death. However, no-one knew of her intercession (and it was a very strong intercession) for them. And who knows if it was really for the best?

The novel is about the different types of love experienced by the different women, or children. All of the women, Vera Gibbon, Julia, Celestial, May, Heed, Christine and Junior and L all had different relationships with Bill and with each other. The worst result of all these loves was that Heed was too young and that her love to Christine was blighted – although they did reconcile when Heed was dying. This love is also defined by the history of each woman. For instance, Junior never had a father and therefore sees a kind of warped father figure in the picture of Bill (whom she calls her “Good Man”). She also has a need to manipulate all the people around her, including her lover, Romen. He, however, strays true to himself, or finds a truer version of himself, with the help of his grandfather, Sandler Gibbon. Sandler had a friendly relationship with Bill. Heed didn’t know what she was getting into and made the best of her situation. Christine tried to flee but couldn’t stay away. May lived in fear of losing her material goods. L (who is called “Love”, like the title of the novel) influences the lives of the others through her actions and also seems to see her actions as being loving.

In the background of all these characters’ lives, the novel also delineates the historical periods from the early 20th century to the 1990, especially black musical culture in the first half of the century and the Civil Rights movement. Morrison weaves an utterly fascinating tale in this novel that leaves the reader with much food for thought. The novel must be read very attentively as its structure is so complex and non-linear. I very much enjoyed it, though I found Heed’s storyline especially disturbing (it kind of reminded me of Pecola in The Bluest Eye, except that Heed’s story was less tragic). As always, it’s hard to write a review that does justice Morrison’s work. I can only say: read it!

My ranking of Morrison’s novels that I’ve read so far (Love seems far down the list, but I loved it anyway). The novels are hard to rank because I enjoy all of them so much:

  1. Beloved
  2. Paradise
  3. Jazz
  4. Song of Solomon
  5. Sula
  6. Love
  7. The Bluest Eye
  8. Tar Baby


October Reading

In October I had two weeks’ vacation. The first week was spent on the Baltic coast with my Partner, my cousins and Curious Dog, so not that much time for reading. The second week was at Mum and my place in Bavaria (with Curious Dog, of course) so quite a bit of time for my favourite activity. Let’s see if this had an effect on the number of books read.

Ongoing Projects:

  • Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
    Done! This year’s read along with one of my best friends brought to a triumphant conclusion. It was a great read, and I hope to get around to writing a report on in. We’re considering which book to read next year.
  • Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy
    Total fail again, as usual. I’m going to come up with a new plan to get through it next year (or maybe make a two-year plan). We’ll see. Or maybe I should just sit down and read it in a couple of weeks? Probably not. I do think it’s good for sampling in small doses.

Poetry:

  • Daniel Karlin (ed.), The Penguin Book of Victorian Verse
    I finished this magnificent collection. It was great, and I’m sure I’ll be rereading this one often. What struck me was that at least half of these poems are about death or death-in-life. Some of them are quite dark.
  • Thomas H. Johnson (ed.), Final Harvest: Emily Dickinson’s Poems
    I didn’t feel like dragging the big Penguin collection along on my vacation, so I read a few of Dickinson’s poems during that time. I’m very fond of Dickinson and should read this entire collection (which I was gifted by one of my university professors) and then I should get her complete poems. They are so great…

Short Stories:

  • Jay Rubin (ed.), The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories
    Again, I continued reading these short stories and enjoy them. I’m at about the half-way mark. I didn’t read a short story per day in October, as I was reading other things.
  • Gardner Dozois (ed.), The Year’s Best Science Fiction: First Annual Collection
    I only read a couple of these, but they are good.

Non-Fiction:

  • Jenny Harley (ed.), The Selected Letters of Charles Dickens
    Very interesting. I only dipped into these letters every now and then and have only read about a fifth of them but will definitively keep going.
  • A. N. Wilson, The Mystery of Charles Dickens
    Shows how Dickens’ life left distinct traces in his books. Some of my comments are here.
  • Claire Tomalin, The Invisible Woman
    A fascinating biography of Ellen Ternan, Dickens’ lover. I wrote a few thoughts here.
  • Mary Seacole, The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857)
    A BookTube inspired Victober read, very good. A kind of alternative Florence Nightingale autobiography, which I still want to write a review on. This one I finished while on the Baltic. A slim book.

Three and a bit non-fiction books read in October, not bad at all.

Graphic novel:

Total fail. I’m still not feeling like reading graphic novels.

Novels:

  • Charles Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop
    The first of my October Dickens’ novels. It wasn’t bad, but not one of my favourites. Here’s my review.
  • Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
    The second novel by Dickens read in October – in honour of Victober. I absolutely loved it but have yet to write a review.
  • Toni Morrison, A Mercy
    Another one of Morrison’s historical novels, set far back in the 1690s, during early slavery times in America. Shows how slavery affects the lives of a Dutch couple and their three slaves. Also shows how similar to slavery indentured servitude was. I will write a review; just finished it yesterday.
  • Russel Kirk, Old House of Fear
    A book club read, not bad, but not as good as expected. The gothic horror elements are sadly underdeveloped and what’s left is an atmospheric adventure set on a fictional island of the Hebrides. Not bad, a quick read, but not great (like, for instance, the short stories by M. R. James).
  • Michel Faber, D: A Tale of Two Worlds
    A Dickens-inspired work of children’s literature. An imaginative adventure by a lovely heroine, Dhikilo, a young girl from Somaliland who lives with her adoptive English parents in an English sea-side town. The fantastic creatures she meets in a second world (to which all the letters “D” are being abducted with dire consequences for our world) are all based on Dickens characters, but reinterpreted. The fantasy story is full of suspense, but fairly gentle, suitable for children but also lovely for adults – I especially liked identifying the Dickens’ characters the fantastic characters are based on. Also well done is Dhikilo’s experience as a person from Somaliland in an English setting. A quick and enjoyable read.

Well, that was a nice number of books read, even though I had a hellish two work weeks after my vacation. Guess I got most of my reading done in the second week, when I was on vacation, but staying home in Bavaria. Over Christmas, when, I reckon, I’ll be taking my usual three weeks off, I’ll have a longer stretch of reading time (if nothing comes up). Looking forward to it already. I didn’t read many short stories, and no graphic novel, but everything else was very satisfying.

September Reading

September was very busy with work and I didn’t read as much as usual. Also, at the start of the month my cousins stayed with us for a long weekend and I didn’t do much reading then. Now, rather late, my reading report:

Ongoing projects:

  • Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
    138 pages, my quota for September ̶ one more month and I’ll be done.
  • Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy
    Total fail again, as usual.

Poetry:

Daniel Karlin (ed.), The Penguin Book of Victorian Verse
I’m really enjoying this collection and am almost done.

Short stories:

  • Jay Rubin (ed.), The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories
    I continued with some of these. They are very interesting, but some of them are very intense, so I’m getting ahead rather slowly.
  • Gardner Dozois (ed.), The Year’s Best Science Fiction: First Annual Collection
    These are fun to read. I’m planning on eventually reading my way through all the annual collections.

Non-Fiction:

  • Redmond O’Hanlon, In Trouble Again: A Journey Between the Orinoco and the Amazon
    Very good, see my report here.
  • Carol Ann Lee, The Murders at White House Farm
    Don’t know why I read this, see my report here.
  • Laura Cumming, On Chapel Sands: My Mother and Other Missing Persons
    Also excellent, see my report here.
  • Helen Bevington, The Third and Only Way: Reflections of Staying Alive
    A memoir about life in old age, when one’s loved ones are already dead. What keeps one alive? I like reading about how people go through old age. It’s coming for everyone and, who knows, maybe it will be helpful. It’s a quiet reflection, with lots of vignettes and musings on books and life experiences. I enjoyed it a lot and may read some this author’s other books.
  • Thomas Mallon, A Book of One’s Own: People and Their Diaries
    So far, I’ve only read about two thirds of this book. I found a reference to Bevington in it, which lead me to read her memoir. There’s lots of other reading inspiration in the book. I’ll be returning to it again and again, I believe, to find diaries and memoirs to read. And maybe it will help me to keep up with my own blog/diary. I wrote up a few blog entries in September about the chapters I’ve read, too many to link.

Graphic novel:

Total fail. I’m currently not feeling like reading graphic novels.

Novels:

Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge
One of Dickens’ two historical novels. I liked it a lot and mean to write a review.

Toni Morrison, Love
Also a very good read, as usual. Somewhat disturbing, but then, all Morrison’s novels are disturbing. Will write a review.

Lots of non-fiction this month and only two novels. No graphic novel. Not too bad, but I’ve had better reading months.

Paradise

by Toni Morrison. The novel is about the clash between two groups of people with different histories and different ways of life. It’s a great novel and I very much enjoyed it. My review contains spoilers, so as usual, it is underneath the cut.

Read More »

July Reading

My belated reading report from July. I got a bit derailed in July, didn’t manage all my goals and didn’t keep a scorecard (maybe that’s why the month got away from me). But it wasn’t all bad.

Ongoing projects:

  • Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
    138 pages, my quota for July. There’s a cliffhanger: will Andrej survive?
  • Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy
    Total fail again. Maybe I should give up for now?

Poetry:

Daniel Karlin (ed.), The Penguin Book of Victorian Verse
I finished the New Oxford Book of English Verse right at the mid-year mark and started up with this new anthology. It’s also very good and I’m enjoying it very much. Who’s have thought that I’d have such a good time reading poetry? Best goal I started this year.

Short Stories:

A.S. Byatt (ed.), The Oxford Book of English Short Stories
I didn’t read a lot of stories from this anthology in July, but the ones I read were all good.

Elmore Leonard, The Complete Western Stories
I read all thirty stories in this collection and mostly liked them. I did think that the later stories where better than the earlier ones, one could see improvements over time. These stories are also mostly from the point-of-view of non-Native Americans and I kind of suspect they are rather biased at times. I need to read some stories by Native Americans and will keep in mind to find an anthology or an author of short stories.

Non-Fiction:

Margaret Stanger, That Quail, Robert.
An absolutely lovely story about a quail that lived with a family in New England. A short read and highly recommended.

Graphic Novel:

None. Didn’t get around to reading a graphic novel in July.

Novels:

  • Charles Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit
    This Dickens novel was ok, but I’ve read better. Will write a review (I actually already wrote one, but then I deleted it by mistake and couldn’t recover it. Very annoying.
  • Toni Morrison, Jazz
    I read this one again. It was good, but quite complex and one read wasn’t enough. So, I’m a bit behind on my Morrison reading. I wrote a review.
  • Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings
    A very good fantasy novel, the first in a series of four, where the fourth is coming out later this year. I’m doing a BookTube readalong of the first three books. It has great characters and super world-building. Looking forward to the other books in the series, and strongly recommend it.
  • Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her
    Started this one in June and finished in July. I liked it a lot and still plan to write a review.

So, I didn’t reach all my goals this month, but didn’t do too badly, except that I didn’t read a new Morrison and missed out on the graphic novel. August is three-quarters done, and I still haven’t finished my next Morrison, haven’t started the Dickens or the graphic novel. I’ll have to buck up. Guess I’m getting a bit fed up with the goals. I’ve read a lot so far in August, just not the novels I’ve got in my reading goals. But I’ve still got time.

Keep safe, world.

Jazz

By Toni Morrison. I read this novel in June and then reread most of it again in July, because it is just so complex and rich that I couldn’t write a review after just one read. My review contains spoilers, so I’m putting it under the cut. As all the previous novels by Morrison, I loved this one too. I strongly recommend it, it’s very engaging and lively.

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