Toni Morrison (Chole Ardelia Wofford) born Feb. 18, 1931 – Died Aug. 5, 2019. Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993.
My business card (it’s really not a business) says David R. Davis – Author. That term, author, implies something that is technically true, but somehow is far less than the word as it would be used to describe Toni Morrison. It would be equal to something like – I’m like Shakespeare, because I know the alphabet. I write words, Morrison painted vivid and beautiful landscapes with words. This is not a critique of my skills, it is a realistic comparison of an artist and someone who writes for pleasure.
I will offer up a challenge to anyone who reads this blog.
Read the first 20 pages of Beloved , don’t scan through them, or read them as you might the cover of USA Today, but deeply read Toni Morrison’s words and tell me they do not fill you with joy and wonder.
Page 8 (of my copy.) “Except for a heap more hair and some waiting in his eyes, he looked the way he had in Kentucky. Peachstone skin, straight-backed. For a man with an immobile face it was amazing how ready it was to smile, or blaze or be sorry with you. As though all you had to do was get his attention and right away he produced the feeling you were feeling. With less than a blink, his face seemed to change-underneath it lay the activity.”
Page 18. “I got a tree on my back and a haint in my house, and nothing in between but the daughter I am holding in my arms. No more running-from nothing. I will never run from another thing on earth. I took one journey and I paid for the ticket, but let me tell you something, Paul D Garner: it cost too much! Do you hear me? It cost too much.”
My challenge is this – read her work and if you are not moved, if you don’t see or feel the beauty in her words; I will gladly buy you a cup of coffee or a beer.
I vaguely remember a scene in the movie Amadeus. Salieri comes to realize that no matter what he does, no matter how hard he tries, he will never compare to Mozart. He loves music, he loves beauty, but he simply doesn’t have whatever it was that made Mozart, Mozart. I recall it as a somewhat tragic scene in the film.
In no way do I compare myself to this drama, still I know that should I have 500 more years to live, I will never have what Toni Morrison had that made Toni Morrison, Toni Morrison. Her writing, her art was a special gift. And I honestly believe the world is a better place as a result.
I won’t quit trying. I have never hit a backhand topspin like Roger Federer hits every time he steps on a tennis court. But I kept playing tennis for thirty years and I kept trying to hit a better backhand every time. I may never write a sentence like Ms. Morrison wrote routinely, but I will still sit in front of this laptop and try.
But don’t just accept my words. Pick up Beloved or Home and give yourself a gift, hook up your seat-belt and take a marvelous ride.
“You wanna fly, you got o give up the shit that weighs you down.” Toni Morrison
Rest well Toni, you’ve earned it.
Go well – David