Song of Solomon is another award-winning book by Toni Morrison. This 1977 novel won the National Books Credits Award, and was an Oprah's Book Club choice.
Song of Solomon is the story of Macon Dead the third, an African-American boy known as "Milkman" by people outside the family.
The story begins in Michigan, in 1931, when Milkman is a small boy. It takes him into manhood and working in his his father's business, and finally through his travels to unlock his family's past.
Milkman's family is fairly well off, financially speaking. His father deals in real estate, and his mother, the former Ruth Foster, is the daughter of the town's only black doctor.
Ruth is obsessed with the memory of her father, (as she was with him when he was alive), and Macon the second has a hard time trying to live up to his wife's image of what a man should be. He is frustrated and angry, and strikes out at Ruth, often physically.
Milkman doesn't understand why he is called "Milkman", until he begins to have flashes of memory of being nursed by his mother when he was old enough to no longer be wearing diapers.
Freddie, one of his father's renters, had witnessed this through the window when Milkman was "tall enough for his feet to touch the floor".
Milkman has two older sisters, who also have strange names, but for a far different reason. This family names its girls by opening the Bible at random and pointing, and whatever they are pointing to becomes the child's name. His sisters are First Corinthians and Magdelene called Lena.
As for the family name of "Dead", the story goes that when Macon the first, who could not read nor write, had documents filled out for him by a drunk soldier, mistakes were made and the word "Dead" ended up in the space where a last name should be.
Milkman doesn't have much to do with his sisters, and has no friends his age. Thanks to Freddie, his peers see him as a "Momma's boy".
Eventually he finds a friend in "Guitar" Bains, who is a few years older, and Milkman's opposite. Guitar has no parents, and is very poor.
They are best friend for years, until Guitar believes Milkman has cheated him out of some gold they were to share. It isn't true, but Guitar refuses to believe Milkman, and tries several times to kill him.
This book is not a quick and easy read. But it certainly held my
interest as I traveled with Milkman on his quest to learn of his roots.
Song of Solomon has been banned for demeaning language, descriptive sex scenes, violent imagery, profanity and suicide. One school board member called it "garbage".
It's too bad that some folks can't get past the things they find offensive, to the story itself - the story of a man on a journey to unravel the mystery of his ancestors.