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Have you ever considered the historical heritage and the intrinsic meaning of your name and surname What is a proper noun if not a word that carries concentrated quintessence to depict oneself Aren t people named after parents or grandparents paying homage to their own ancestry somehow There is something miraculous about the past that the future lacks All nations, maybe even the whole mankind, have managed to transform thousands and millions of particular fictions created by individual beings Have you ever considered the historical heritage and the intrinsic meaning of your name and surname What is a proper noun if not a word that carries concentrated quintessence to depict oneself Aren t people named after parents or grandparents paying homage to their own ancestry somehow There is something miraculous about the past that the future lacks All nations, maybe even the whole mankind, have managed to transform thousands and millions of particular fictions created by individual beings into a unique and collective memory, into a shared history, into a coherent past Contrarily, the future can t be designed collectively Its individual fictions are elusive, unfinished, bled dry because like all visions of heaven and hell, they are ethereal Milkman believes people s names reflect their own yearnings, failures, wishes, weaknesses and even their worst fears Names bear witness, names are condensed DNA But what happens if one s name is the byproduct of mere randomness or the result of some humiliating mishap like a white drunkard mistyping what he hears Milkman s official name is Macom Dead Named after his father and grandfather, Macom the third knows he can t have a future because his surname is Dead His nickname Milkman mirrors disturbing connotations about his mother Ruth and the effects sustained sexual deprivation and marital abuse have on her waning psyche, perverting the significance of Macon s nickname and leaving the young man evenrestless about his true originsIt s a wonder anybody knows who anybody isA whole generation of people with empty names Empire States, Railroads Hospital, Guitar Bains, Macom Dead A dark joke played on a hapless community by a wounded past suppurating with centuries of slavery and steadfast barbarity where everybody is on a quest to give meaning to their hollow identities Some, like Milkman s father, the regal Macom Dead the second, think they can recover their robbed pride with riches and status Others, like Guitar Bains, Milkman s best friend, are moved by a bloodthirsty and insane vengeance to rebalance justice in a universe ruled with radical fanaticism They are all groping in the dark, lost in the thick mist of fear and shame, in a world where the living and the dead coexist in the mystical tradition of Afro American songs.Only those who are not afraid of ghosts, only those who intone healing melodies to suture the scarred past, only those who welcome anonymity with arms wide open possess the clairvoyance to reach beyond the mist and are blessed with the redeeming light of truth Pilate, Milkman s aunt and his father s sister, is a natural shaman who searches noEqually shunned yet respected by all, she accepts the encumbrance of existence and pays her respects to her ancestors in taking life as the precious treasure it is, forcing Milkman to ponder about his aimless one.Estranged from his own family and impelled by self pity, Milkman embarks on a journey to the past that leads him to Southern Virginia following the traces of his great grandfather Who is Solomon Why does Milkman have an urge to fly since he was a kid Why is he rooted in a past that prevents him from thinking of a future What is he really afraid of A chain of prodigious events involving supernatural experiences in a cave full of bones and gold, the communion of a man s lost soul with Mother Earth and disturbing dreams about disembodied female spirits points selfless love as the hidden path to Milkman s true identity With the menacing subplot of a declared racial war pulsating in her arrhythmic phrasing, Morrison creates a joined voice for the oppressed minorities of the Afro American community that sings with the inherent melody of myths and legends incrusted in their popular tradition Below Morrison s unmistakable sumptuous prose, vibrant imagery and the allegoric dimension of her magic realism there is a painful exploration of recurrent themes such as the weight of past, the burden of present and the shifting power between genders in the Southern America of the sixties.Sinking his fingers deep into the mossy soil, cradled by the roots of a Sweetgum Tree and inhaling the movement of the whispering leaves, Milkman listens to the soft tune of a faraway songSolomon done fly, Solomon done gone, Solomon cut across the sky, Solomon gone homeBlinded by the absence of fear and tired of dodging death, Milkman submits to the Song of Solomon and opens his wings to soar the skies with a lightness of being and a confident heart beating with faith for a bright future that will redeem a silenced past Sprawling and epic, Song of Solomon paints a vibrant picture of Black social life across midcentury America The coming of age novel follows Milkman Dead, a Black man caught in arrested development, as he journeys from his hometown in Michigan to rural Pennsylvania and Virginia in a quest for legendary gold, after a youth full of waste, indecision, and wealth As he searches for gold, Milkman overcomes hardships of all kinds, learns about his heritage, and matures all the while he s pursued by Sprawling and epic, Song of Solomon paints a vibrant picture of Black social life across midcentury America The coming of age novel follows Milkman Dead, a Black man caught in arrested development, as he journeys from his hometown in Michigan to rural Pennsylvania and Virginia in a quest for legendary gold, after a youth full of waste, indecision, and wealth As he searches for gold, Milkman overcomes hardships of all kinds, learns about his heritage, and matures all the while he s pursued by his fanatical childhood best friend Guitar, who s convinced that Milkman will keep all the gold for himself after promising to gift him part of the sum Along the way Morrison fully renders the inner lives of the Black folk Milkman crosses on his journey toward adulthood, from a town janitor to his father s midwife The novel slinear and straightforward than the writer s other work, but easily ranks as one of her best Almost four whole months into 2015 and I ve finally read my first four star book You can always trust Toni Morrison to deliver even when you think all hope is lost I think Song of Solomon is my favourite Morrison novel thus far This novel just flows with greatness I feel that I enjoyed this bookthan let s say, Beloved, because the time period in which this is set the 1930s through to the 60s is an era with which I m relatively familiar She references the murder of Emmett Till and th Almost four whole months into 2015 and I ve finally read my first four star book You can always trust Toni Morrison to deliver even when you think all hope is lost I think Song of Solomon is my favourite Morrison novel thus far This novel just flows with greatness I feel that I enjoyed this bookthan let s say, Beloved, because the time period in which this is set the 1930s through to the 60s is an era with which I m relatively familiar She references the murder of Emmett Till and the rise of Malcolm X for instance I feltof a connect because of the historical time setting In many ways I found that this novel almost mirrors the early chapters of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, I m not sure if this was intentional though I really found this novel to be unputdownable ,so than the other Morrison novels that I ve read If I were to choose a good starting place for Morrison virgins, I d choose Song of Solomon I really enjoyed this one Song of Solomonbegins and ends with a leap, a man hurling himself into the air, an act of surrender Book ended between these attempted acts of flight, a rich and beautiful work of literature slowly, gradually, takes wing.This is the fifth Toni Morrison book I ve read after Beloved, The Bluest Eye, Home and Sula , and I think of these five, Song of Solomon is the one that asks the most of its reader It s not a book that enchants immediately The characters at least in the beginningSong of Solomonbegins and ends with a leap, a man hurling himself into the air, an act of surrender Book ended between these attempted acts of flight, a rich and beautiful work of literature slowly, gradually, takes wing.This is the fifth Toni Morrison book I ve read after Beloved, The Bluest Eye, Home and Sula , and I think of these five, Song of Solomon is the one that asks the most of its reader It s not a book that enchants immediately The characters at least in the beginning are all awful or at least infuriating, and it s difficult to know who to get behind But as the story unfolds, the complexity and humanity of the characters are revealed so that they begin to earn the reader s sympathy and affection By the end you realise that the psychology of each and every one of them makes perfect sense, that their personal experiences and generations of history have subtly shaped who they became, and that this tapestry of lives is telling a much bigger story Even the characters names Milkman, Corinthians, Guitar, Pilate seemingly so whimsical, are emblematic of profoundly important truths.For the first half, I was unsure really what the thrust of the novel even was If you had asked me what it s about, the best I could have managed is the story of a well off, urban black family in 20th century America It meanders and ambles around, in ways that seem so unstructured as to be frustratingly messy and, beautifully written though it is, those early chapters lacked some sort of hook Gradually though, it emerges that the family s relative wealth has disconnected, alienated and trapped them that their upward mobility, especially for the women, has limits that each one of them is isolated and alone even while living all together under one roof.This unrest reaches a tipping point which sets Milkman off on an odyssey that forms Part II of the novel Ostensibly he is seeking material wealth, but what Milkman finds as he retraces the steps of his forebears is much richer andvaluable Morrison pulls it all together so gradually that when a pattern and a structure finally emerge it almost feels accidental But if you go back and re read the early chapters, you realise that the threads and pathways were there all along This is the kind of book that rewards patience, close reading, and I expect multiple re reads Powerful and immensely rewarding You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you downToni Morrison, Song of SolomonI liked all of it and loved much of it It is an amazing piece of literature with beautifully realized characters Originally, I felt this book was on par with The Bluest Eye, but still not as strong as Beloved I now think they are ALL great Morrison novels The further I get from this book, the bigger and the bolder the shadow it casts I love how Morrison writes and how she juggles big themes dYou wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you downToni Morrison, Song of SolomonI liked all of it and loved much of it It is an amazing piece of literature with beautifully realized characters Originally, I felt this book was on par with The Bluest Eye, but still not as strong as Beloved I now think they are ALL great Morrison novels The further I get from this book, the bigger and the bolder the shadow it casts I love how Morrison writes and how she juggles big themes death, family, trauma, class, home, race, slavery and African American culture, etc Obviously, she belong in the canon of great black writers, great women writers, etc., but her words and novels transcend ALL of those shelves She is wrestling with global themes and ideas that transcend race, sex, culture, and time One of my absolute favorites, partly for the following You can t own a human being You can t lose what you don t own Suppose you did own him Could you really love somebody who was absolutely nobody without you You really want somebody like that Somebody who falls apart when you walk out the door You don t, do you And neither does he You re turning over your whole life to him Your whole life, girl And if it means so little to you that you can just give it away, hand it to him, then why One of my absolute favorites, partly for the following You can t own a human being You can t lose what you don t own Suppose you did own him Could you really love somebody who was absolutely nobody without you You really want somebody like that Somebody who falls apart when you walk out the door You don t, do you And neither does he You re turning over your whole life to him Your whole life, girl And if it means so little to you that you can just give it away, hand it to him, then why should it mean anyto him he can t value youthan you value yourself 4.5 5There s something to be said for stories Beyond all the talk of clich s, the bemoaning of stereotypes, the intricate and obsessive breakdown of the latest wave of hyped up mass media extravaganza that has managed to aggressively worm its way into the mob conscience Beyond the deep seated resignation at puzzle piece popularity.I don t have anything against the forthright advocates of analysis at all levels of fiction Far from it I simply believe that there is a time when one is able to p 4.5 5There s something to be said for stories Beyond all the talk of clich s, the bemoaning of stereotypes, the intricate and obsessive breakdown of the latest wave of hyped up mass media extravaganza that has managed to aggressively worm its way into the mob conscience Beyond the deep seated resignation at puzzle piece popularity.I don t have anything against the forthright advocates of analysis at all levels of fiction Far from it I simply believe that there is a time when one is able to put the microscope back in the drawer and the fine toothed comb on the top shelf, sit back, and say, Yes Here is a story.It is a story of oppression, of hatred, of justified rage and passionate fury fighting against discrimination both big and small, both intentional and otherwise If you come away from this review with one thing, know that large scale oppression, this horrible racism in the land of the free depicted in this book has existed, does exist, and will most certainly exist for a long, long while Slavery Martin Luther King, Jr Trayvon Martin Facts and faces that may be forgotten or even denied, but the ideology that connects them all will always be rooted out by the plain evidence of its existence Every character has some measure of this rage, and every character is given their say in some fashion, fashions that often clash and bite and break the others around them If the road to hell is paved with Good Intentions, the road to hell on earth is a yellow bricked road bounded on both sides by long sparkling walls of Indifference Indifference is neither black nor white, neither good nor evil, and each of the characters illustrate this innate resistance to quick and easy pigeon holing At first you will love them, or you will hate them, and then the tables will switch, and you will be left with the unsatisfying satisfaction of reading about human beings Unsatisfied satisfaction Feeling that one is straddling two worlds due to the color of one s skin, when in reality just stuck in one really fucked up one that makes progress a constant battle Us versus them The only guarantee is that a single step out of line will explode into violence.What can you do with this What is a human being expected to do with this horrible paradox that is real life This story poses the question to a boy child who reaches and then passes the age of thirty in a safe, contained bubble, his head filled with safe, contained problems He has no awareness of the context of his life, the family that surrounds him, the history that follows him, the society that defines him He has long forgotten his dreams of flying.We ve all forgotten our dreams of flying, you say.Perhaps, I say Would you like to be reminded &DOWNLOAD ↺ Song of Solomon ↬ In this celebrated novel, Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison created a new way of rendering the contradictory nuances of black life in America Its earthy poetic language and striking use of folklore and myth established Morrison as a major voice in contemporary fiction Song of Solomon begins with one of the most arresting scenes in our century s literature a dreamlike tableau depicting a man poised on a roof, about to fly into the air, while cloth rose petals swirl above the snow covered ground and, in the astonished crowd below, one woman sings as another enters premature labor The child born of that labor, Macon Milkman Dead, will eventually come to discover, through his complicated progress to maturity, the meaning of the drama that marked his birth Toni Morrison s novel is at once a romance of self discovery, a retelling of the black experience in America that uncovers the inalienable poetry of that experience, and a family saga luminous in its depth, imaginative generosity, and universality It is also a tribute to the ways in which, in the hands of a master, the ancient art of storytelling can be used to make the mysterious and invisible aspects of human life apparent, real, and firm to the touch xxxxx 08 06 2019 Update Toni Morrison has died and while I engage in my usual requiem ritual of listening to Al Green s Take Me To The River, I immediately came back to my experience reading this book Though she s dead what s important is that we still have her books, her words, and the site of her memory I read this book back in 2015 and she immediately became an old friend Not one for modesty, her work is an authentic and commanding portrait of human life This book in particular was my world 08 06 2019 Update Toni Morrison has died and while I engage in my usual requiem ritual of listening to Al Green s Take Me To The River, I immediately came back to my experience reading this book Though she s dead what s important is that we still have her books, her words, and the site of her memory I read this book back in 2015 and she immediately became an old friend Not one for modesty, her work is an authentic and commanding portrait of human life This book in particular was my world and my grandfather s world recreated on the page in a way that few if any writers I ve read has ever done Well on y va Original review Retrospective for a Flying Man My first reading of Toni Morrison was nothing short of amazing, this book does so much, so well, so easily We learn about three to four generations of one family and, in fact, one culture I won t be beating around the bush in this review Though Macon Milkman Dead III was the default protagonist, he was also my least favorite character The natural woman superwoman Pilate was my second favorite character because she knew how to navigate time and space in her own way The Dead family as a whole seems like an interesting archetype or counterpoint of The Sutpen family of Absalom, Absalom down to their sharing the same origins in Virginia which are also my maternal family origins This book shows a good example of Faulknerianism played straight and subverted in the hands of a Black writer To be short this is a great Black Southern Gothic novel.But that leads to talking about the greatest character of this novelits author Morrison took me places that I had not realized I needed to go Even my animosity to the main character did not hurt this book to me because it did everything so well The chapters divided the story so well, I can only think of The Brothers Karamazov doing it better The reason this book has struck me so well is how personal it is to African American experience This book alludes to White people and White supremacy, but you will be hard pressed to find a White person in it, much less with even a speaking line I think a white nurse from the beginning is all we are told in 377 pages This is the first book I have read in a long time written by Black hands only concerning Black people on their own terms this is not accidental and it is refreshing I can hear the true cadence of how my family talks to one another and the number of cultural references and inside jokes were amazing and I would be amazed if most non African Americans can pick it up This book was written to a specific audience much of the small things in it go unexplained and I was surprised to see it all there Thisthan anything will make me have to read Morrison again I believe the only other Black writer to come close isJames Baldwin in Go Tell It on the Mountain, but even he had to start explaining things that he would not have to do for a strictly African American audience.Names play a pivotal role in this story Every significant character is given a symbolic name or nickname which is symbolic of how names play a role in African American life As is the truth in reality, if you are given a nickname it is rarely for a positive reason This is taken further in that even the real names in this book are acquired in very unusual or strange ways The one exception I see in this is the character Guitar, whose name is a misnomer from his infancy though I am increasingly thinking it is a stealth pun reference to a certain character from The Brothers Karamazov.The locations of this story, particularly in the second half of the novel, are also very special to me as it shows the history of Black people s journey in country Though the story s main setting is Michigan, Milkman s Roots journey leads him not simply through a different land the mid Atlantic and eventually the origin of African Americans Virginia , but literally in the magical realist sense back in time He goes back to his father and grandfather s time in Pennsylvania, butimportantly to me is that he went to central Virginia When he talks about his journey into Virginia it hits me personally because my mother s family is from this land I can see the landscape and almost the roads and shops of this area and I knew exactly what the climate was This was another crucial factor in my reading this book it is about the land of my ancestors as much as it is about the land of Milkman s ancestors.The Southern Gothic nature of the novel is also worth talking about Morrison is as much a fan of Faulkner as she is critic This book takes the haunted nature of gothic fiction and manages to put it in an urban, mid western environment The city of Mercy, Michigan is as much haunted by slavery and its legacy as Jefferson, Mississippi The difference is that the stakes are a lot higher and the falloutsevere for the Black inhabitants in Morrison s universe versus the White inhabitants of Faulkner s.To conclude, if you want to read a story about one man s search for his place in the world in the middle of the 20th century, this is your book.P.S MAGICAL REALISM Seems I would be fined if I did not mention that somewhere It was a very well used trope