A few years ago, I was living in Toronto to pursue a career in advertising – which promptly crashed and burned. (How badly? On a scale from one to ten: Hindenburg.) Because my mode of transportation, much like my heroine Wonder Woman’s, was invisible, I often took public transportation. Which isn’t much of a big deal in Toronto, because, for the most part, it is readily available and fairly frequent. Plus, my driving skills are barely passable in the suburbs, so my chances of surviving in big city traffic…well, there’d be no chance. Anyway, my point is that because I took so much public transportation, I’d often find myself at the TTC’s Union subway station. WIthin this subway station is an underground mall populated with tenants such as Coles Bookstore, Starbucks, and the LCBO. (You can see why I frequented there between stops).
It seemed that every time I entered the mall, everyone else was exiting; that everyone but I was going in the same direction. All those who walked in the opposite direction as I did seemed purposeful, seemed as though they knew where they were going and how to get there. And I – who kept losing job after job and going on futile interview after futile interview, did not. Like a tidal wave, this rush of people kept pushing me back to where I was going, and I kept fighting against them, kept pushing back. Every single time this happened, every single time, it would remind me of a certain scene in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon.
You can breathe a sigh of relief: this is not going to be a post about my life. And for the pre-teen girls who Googled a certain flash-in-the-pan boy band and came across this: ha-ha!
About two weeks ago, legendary American author – and winner of prizes both Nobel and Pulitzer – Toni Morrison received The White House Medal of Honor, over which I totally had French kittens. The news of this made me revisit how much I love love love this author, to whom I was introduced back in high school with her 1976 novel Song of Solomon. It continues to one of my favourite novels ever; I even have a couple of posts about my
obsession with love for this book. And, as promised in my second post about this novel, I’m about to write a third. So, to preface that third post, and to celebrate – albeit belatedly – Toni receiving this prestigious award, I am going to dedicate this post to her wonderfulness.
I was going to write a mini-biography on her, but this one from New York Magazine is so effing incredible I’ll just post the link to it here. Instead, I’ll post a “book-ography” of her work, from 1970’s The Bluest Eye to the recently published Home.
But first, I’ve gotta say this: Fifty Shades of Grey is NOT a literary phenomenon. It’s all hype and sensationalism. I’ve said it here before and I’ll say it again: just because something is popular, doesn’t mean it’s good. Now, Toni Morrison? She is a literary phenomenon. Her work reflects her preternatural intelligence, her willingness to represent the world as it is in all its ugliness, yet, through the genius and magnificence of her prose, make it sound beautiful. And above all, her mastery of language and storytelling is nearly unparalleled. Her work has resonated for over forty years and will continue to do so, because her understanding of human nature and all its flaws – much like Shakespeare – is something we can all relate to.
Feast your eyes on this while I go away to die of fangirl squeeing.
TONI MORRISON IS GETTING A BACKRUB FROM BARACK OBAMA OH MY GOD THIS PICTURE IS EVERYTHING!!
*Ahem*. I didn’t say I’d go away quietly.
*Updated with more pics, because I AM OBSESSED*