Morrison wrings out every emotion in new novel about war veteran

by Lynn Lofton

Published: July 15,2012

Tags: home, Korean War, pulitzer prize, Toni Morrison

“Home” by Toni Morrison is $24.00 from Random House.

Fans of Pulitzer Prize winning author Toni Morrison will welcome her latest work, “Home”, a novel of just 144 pages that revisits the theme of the prodigal son. The Nobel laureate author has a way of reaching deep into human emotion and shaking us into feeling things we didn’t know we could feel as she did in the moving Beloved.

Home is the deceptively slight story of 24-year-old Frank Money who’s recently returned from the Korean War. He’s haunted by the deaths of his two “homeboys” and a moral lapse that has shaken him to his core. He doesn’t plan to return to his hometown of Lotus, Ga., which he loathes. But then he receives a letter about his younger sister, Cee, begging him to “Come fast. She be dead if you tarry.”

This book is the story of Money’s journey home to rescue his sister and save himself in the process. He is helped by good Samaritans, who provide train fare, food and clothes, and he is frisked by policemen, jumped by gangsters and provoked into pummeling a pimp. As a writer adept in telling stories in voices, Morrison pens short chapters in Money’s voice to provide direction to the unspecified person set on telling his story. One of those chapters describes a journey when Frank was four years old and his family made a miserable, famished trek from Texas to Louisiana after an attack which gave 15 households just 24 hours to vacate the county ‘or else.’

Morrison’s latest novel is described as accessible, tightly composed and as visceral as anything she has written. Heller McAlpin, who reviews books for National Public Radio, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Christian Science Monitor, writes of this novel, “The lush, biblical cadences for which she (Morrison) is known have partially given way to shorter, more direct sentences — which still have the capacity to leave a reader awestruck. The book opens with Frank’s recollection of a shocking burial he and his sister witnessed as children when they snuck into a local stud farm to gape at the magnificent horses that ‘rose up like men.’ It’s a scene that becomes horrifyingly clear to him — and the reader — much later.”

A gifted writer, Morrison has again given us a rich, honest story of humanity that wrings every last emotion out of us. Like Sula and Beloved, it’s not always pretty but it’s achingly real.

 

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