Song of Solomon
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Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family’s origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world.
Macon, and I’m visiting here for a few days. I’m from Michigan and I think some of my people lived here a long time ago. I was hoping you’d be able to help me.” “Help you what?” She sounded arch and Milkman had the distinct impression that this lady did not like the color of his skin. “Find them. I mean find out about them. We’re all split up, my family, and some folks in town thought you might know some of them.” “Who’s that, Susan?” Another woman’s voice came from behind her. “Somebody to
the men walking down the streets. These rides that the family took on Sunday afternoons had become rituals and much too important for Macon to enjoy. For him it was a way to satisfy himself that he was indeed a successful man. It was a less ambitious ritual for Ruth, but a way, nevertheless, for her to display her family. For the little boy it was simply a burden. Pressed in the front seat between his parents, he could see only the winged woman careening off the nose of the car. He was not
finally, after Guitar took him to his first Southside party, and after he found himself effortlessly popular with girls of his own age and in his own neighborhood. But while his breath was no longer that of a puppy, Hagar could still whip it into a pant when he was seventeen and she was twenty-two. Which she did on the dullest flattest day he could remember, a throw-away day in March when he drove his father’s two-tone Ford over to her house for two bottles of wine. Milkman was much sought after
at the entrance. Now he knew, if he’d had any doubts, that all his father had told him was true. She was a silly, selfish, queer, faintly obscene woman. Again he felt abused. Why couldn’t anybody in his whole family just be normal? He waited for an hour before she came out. “Hello, Mama,” he said. He tried to make his voice sound as coolly cruel as he felt; just as he tried to frighten her by stepping out suddenly from behind the tree. He succeeded. She stumbled in alarm and took a great gulp
justice, or luxury, or vengeance. Breathing the air that could have come straight from a marketplace in Accra, they stood for what seemed to them a very long time. One leaned against a tree, his foot hovering off the ground. Finally one touched the elbow of the other and they both moved toward an open window. With no trouble at all, they entered. Although they had stood deliberately in the dark of the pine trees, they were unprepared for the deeper darkness that met them there in that room.