sábado, 29 de novembro de 2008

A conversation with Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison é uma de minhas autoras preferidas. Li meu primeiro romance dela quando tinha uns 18 anos e literalmente me apaixonei pelo seu estilo elegante, complexo e muitas vezes difícil. Ela acaba de lançar um novo romance, "A Mercy". No endereço abaixo é possível assistir uma entrevista com a escritora gravada para o New York Times e na sequência segue parte do primeiro capítulo do livro...


First Chapter

‘A Mercy’

Published: November 28, 2008

Don't be afraid. My telling can't hurt you in spite of what I have done and I promise to lie quietly in the dark — weeping perhaps or occasionally seeing the blood once more — but I will never again unfold my limbs to rise up and bare teeth. I explain. You can think what I tell you a confession, if you like, but one full of curiosities familiar only in dreams and during those moments when a dog's profile plays in the steam of a kettle. Or when a corn-husk doll sitting on a shelf is soon splaying in the corner of a room and the wicked of how it got there is plain. Stranger things happen all the time everywhere. You know. I know you know. One question is who is responsible? Another is can you read? If a pea hen refuses to brood I read it quickly and, sure enough, that night I see a minha mãe standing hand in hand with her little boy, my shoes jamming the pocket of her apron. Other signs need more time to understand. Often there are too many signs, or a bright omen clouds up too fast. I sort them and try to recall, yet I know I am missing much, like not reading the garden snake crawling up to the door saddle to die. Let me start with what I know for certain.

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Damon Winter/The New York Times

Toni Morrison

The beginning begins with the shoes. When a child I am never able to abide being barefoot and always beg for shoes, anybody's shoes, even on the hottest days. My mother, a minha mãe, is frowning, is angry at what she says are my prettify ways. Only bad women wear high heels. I am dangerous, she says, and wild but she relents and lets me wear the throwaway shoes from Senhora's house, pointy-toe, one raised heel broke, the other worn and a buckle on top. As a result, Lina says, my feet are useless, will always be too tender for life and never have the strong soles, tougher than leather, that life requires. Lina is correct. Florens, she says, it's 1690. Who else these days has the hands of a slave and the feet of a Portuguese lady? So when I set out to find you, she and Mistress give me Sir's boots that fit a man not a girl. They stuff them with hay and oily corn husks and tell me to hide the letter inside my stocking — no matter the itch of the sealing wax. I am lettered but I do not read what Mistress writes and Lina and Sorrow cannot. But I know what it means to say to any who stop me.

My head is light with the confusion of two things, hunger for you and scare if I am lost. Nothing frights me more than this errand and nothing is more temptation. From the day you disappear I dream and plot. To learn where you are and how to be there. I want to run across the trail through the beech and white pine but I am asking myself which way? Who will tell me? Who lives in the wilderness between this farm and you and will they help me or harm me? What about the boneless bears in the valley? Remember? How when they move their pelts sway as though there is nothing underneath? Their smell belying their beauty, their eyes knowing us from when we are beasts also. You telling me that is why it is fatal to look them in the eye. They will approach, run to us to love and play which we misread and give back fear and anger. Giant birds also are nesting out there bigger than cows, Lina says, and not all natives are like her, she says, so watch out. A praying savage, neighbors call her, because she is once churchgoing yet she bathes herself every day and Christians never do. Underneath she wears bright blue beads and dances in secret at first light when the moon is small. More than fear of loving bears or birds bigger than cows, I fear pathless night. How, I wonder, can I find you in the dark? Now at last there is a way. I have orders. It is arranged. I will see your mouth and trail my fingers down. You will rest your chin in my hair again while I breathe into your shoulder in and out, in and out. I am happy the world is breaking open for us, yet its newness trembles me. To get to you I must leave the only home, the only people I know. Lina says from the state of my teeth I am maybe seven or eight when I am brought here. We boil wild plums for jam and cake eight times since then, so I must be sixteen. Before this place I spend my days picking okra and sweeping tobacco sheds, my nights on the floor of the cookhouse with a minha mãe. We are baptized and can have happiness when this life is done. The Reverend Father tells us that. Once every seven days we learn to read and write. We are forbidden to leave the place so the four of us hide near the marsh. My mother, me, her little boy and Reverend Father. He is forbidden to do this but he teaches us anyway watching out for wicked Virginians and Protestants who want to catch him. If they do he will be in prison or pay money or both. He has two books and a slate. We have sticks to draw through sand, pebbles to shape words on smooth flat rock. When the letters are memory we make whole words. I am faster than my mother and her baby boy is no good at all. Very quickly I can write from memory the Nicene Creed including all of the commas. Confession we tell not write as I am doing now. I forget almost all of it until now. I like talk. Lina talk, stone talk, even Sorrow talk. Best of all is your talk. At first when I am brought here I don't talk any word. All of what I hear is different from what words mean to a minha mãe and me. Lina's words say nothing I know. Nor Mistress's. Slowly a little talk is in my mouth and not on stone. Lina says the place of my talking on stone is Mary's Land where Sir does business. So that is where my mother and her baby boy are buried. Or will be if they ever decide to rest. Sleeping on the cookhouse floor with them is not as nice as sleeping in the broken sleigh with Lina. In cold weather we put planks around our part of the cowshed and wrap our arms together under pelts. We don't smell the cow flops because they are frozen and we are deep under fur. In summer if our hammocks are hit by mosquitoes Lina makes a cool place to sleep out of branches. You never like a hammock and prefer the ground even in rain when Sir offers you the storehouse. Sorrow no more sleeps near the fireplace. The men helping you, Will and Scully, never live the night here because their master does not allow it. You remember them, how they would not take orders from you until Sir makes them? He could do that since they are exchange for land under lease from Sir. Lina says Sir has a clever way of getting without giving. I know it is true because I see it forever and ever. Me watching, my mother listening, her baby boy on her hip. Senhor is not paying the whole amount he owes to Sir. Sir saying he will take instead the woman and the girl, not the baby boy and the debt is gone. A minha mãe begs no. Her baby boy is still at her breast. Take the girl, she says, my daughter, she says. Me. Me. Sir agrees and changes the balance due. As soon as tobacco leaf is hanging to dry Reverend Father takes me on a ferry, then a ketch, then a boat and bundles me between his boxes of books and food. The second day it becomes hurting cold and I am happy I have a cloak however thin. Reverend Father excuses himself to go elsewhere on the boat and tells me to stay exact where I am. A woman comes to me and says stand up. I do and she takes my cloak from my shoulders. Then my wooden shoes. She walks away. Reverend Father turns a pale red color when he returns and learns what happens. He rushes all about asking where and who but can find no answer. Finally he takes rags, strips of sailcloth lying about and wraps my feet. Now I am knowing that unlike with Senhor, priests are unlove here. A sailor spits into the sea when Reverend Father asks him for help. Reverend Father is the only kind man I ever see. When I arrive here I believe it is the place he warns against. The freezing in hell that comes before the everlasting fire where sinners bubble and singe forever. But the ice comes first, he says. And when I see knives of it hanging from the houses and trees and feel the white air burn my face I am certain the fire is coming. Then Lina smiles when she looks at me and wraps me for warmth. Mistress looks away. Nor is Sorrow happy to see me. She flaps her hand in front of her face as though bees are bothering her. She is ever strange and Lina says she is once more with child. Father still not clear and Sorrow does not say. Will and Scully laugh and deny. Lina believes it is Sir's. Says she has her reason for thinking so. When I ask what reason she says he is a man. Mistress says nothing. Neither do I. But I have a worry. Not because our work is more, but because mothers nursing greedy babies scare me. I know how their eyes go when they choose. How they raise them to look at me hard, saying something I cannot hear. Saying something important to me, but holding the little boy's hand.


Excerpted from A Mercy by Toni Morrison Copyright © 2008 by Toni Morrison. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site

5 comentários:

Flavius2net disse...

Me lembrei da Toni Morrison esses dias. Eu estava conversando com o Uvanderson sobre um pessoal que pretende reproduzir a fala oral em suas obras, mas sequer dominam o português. Essa questão me remeteu a minha leitura do "Bluest Eyes", onde Morrison reproduz, sobretudo nos diálogos, o Ebonix dos Afro-Americanos. Antes que ela se aventurasse em tal empreitada, foi estudar a obra de Virginia Wolf.

Kibe disse...

Pois é, num curso que estou fazendo esse semestre na New School o professor, Terry Williams, fez alguns comentários sobre esse estilo que a Toni Morrison incorporou em "Bluest Eyes", devido a ela não ter sido a primeira a fazê-lo; vários outros escritores, alguns até mesmo brancos, já tinham experimentado essa técnica, mas tinham sido criticados no sentido que estariam reproduzindo estereótipos sobre os negros e uma maneira incorreta de se falar inglês. Talvez Morrison tenha escrito seu livro num momento em que a cultura afro-americana já estava consolidada e fornecida uma base de sustentação segura para esses experimentos com a literatura. O Vando tem razão também, antes de se aventurar a escrever algo do tipo "Bluest Eyes", Morrison já tinha desenvolvido de forma plena suas habilidades como escritora: estudado Virginia Wolf no doutorado, lecionado literatura e escrito outros romances. Não conheço muito a literatura de que você falou, mas algumas coisas que tenho lido remetem a acusações, vitimização e tentam elaborar uma identidade meio fake deixando de lado as coisas legais desse meio.

Esses dias atrás estava assistindo alguns trechos de Turma do Gueto no YouTube e fiquei pensando em como apesar das limitações técnicas, vários atores ruins e enredos meio batidos, os caras conseguiram reproduzir esse clima de periferia negra/nordestina paulistana e como havia umas coisas engraçadas em alguns episódios. Tirando os tiros sem sentido e melodramas baratos daria pra fazer uma bela comédia estilo Wayans Brothers com a negrada de Sampa. Imagina um personagem tirando saro do jeito carrancudo do Mano Brown, outro querendo fazer sucesso no hip-hop como o Carmão, um salão de cabelereiro black que só rola palhaçada como a 4P e tem uma cabelereiro figura tipo o Cebola e para dar um clima de thriller dava para criar um motoboy serial killer metido a romântico. Pois é, o Jamanta era o cara era o cara e a gente não sabia!

Raquel disse...

Fiquei impactada novamente com sua postagem e comentarios.
Li Virginia Wolf(pouco), Tony Morrison( Bluest Eyes) por indicação de uma amiga médica, mineira, negra que nunca tinha tido contato com a militancia negra e sempre foi classe media. Li bastante Clarice Lispector.
No caso de Tony Morrison causou em mim um profundo sentimento de angustia, inconformismo incomparável e ao mesmo tempo uma repulsa como se descortinasse um universo que sabemos que está lá mas não queremos ver.
Num primeiro momento pensei em vitimização, mas depois de algum tempo pensei nesse sentimento de forte repulsa que me causou.
Se era o objetivo da autora causar esse sentimento eu não sei. Penso que é sempre bom lembrar que essas autoras e ainda mais Tony Morrison não poderiam ser encapsuladas/etiquetadas pela insignia de vitimizadas/vitimizadoras. Muito ao contrario tais autoras contribuiram em muito para perverter esse esteriotipo.
Ainda que seja doído demais de ler, penso que aí podemos pensar que remédio amargo é que bom e que cura

Kibe disse...

Hi Raquel,
Talvez eu não tenha sido claro, mas meus comentários referentes ao lance da vitimização não são relativos a Toni Morrison, mas a literatura recente que tem sido produzida em SP. Nem sei se é uma crítica o que eu falei, o lance da vitimização é uma estratégia política muito utilizada pelos movimentos sociais no sentido de arrebanhar militantes e simpatizantes. Contudo, como estética literária, na minha opinião, ela é meio de ser utilizado já que sempre caímos numa certa simplificação da realidade. Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Chester Himes e outros autores que eu gosto ficam longe disso, pois tem um nível de sofisticação tão elevado no domínio da linguagem, da escrita e da criação de enredos que conseguem transcender a vitimização apresentando personagens extremamente complexos e próximos do mundo real. Exemplo disso é que ainda hoje continua apaixonado pela personagem principal de Tar Baby, primeiro romance que li de Morrison, pelo casal que é centro da história de If Beale Street Could Talk de James Baldwin, pelo detetives comédias dos contos de Chester Himes – Coffin Ed Johnson (Ed Caixão) e Gravedigger Jones (Jones Coveiro) – e por Bigger Thomas, o Native Son de Richard Wright.

Kibe disse...

Já vou me desculpando pelos erros de português, antes que o nosso corretor de plantão - Ari Brito - faço seu rotineiro comentário! *rs*