The Dancing Mind is not your typical book. It is not a fiction book, nor is it really a non-fiction book. The Dancing Mind is a speech Toni Morrison gave when she accepted The National Book Foundation Medal. This is a very slim volume, coming in at only 17 pages, but it is an opportunity to read something that I never would have encountered anywhere else.
Toni Morrison gave two unrelated anecdotes, but tied them together at the end of the speech. The first was a story of a young man from an affluent family. He grew up being forced to read certain book and participate in certain activities, and when he was finally out of school, he had no inclination to ever read another book. The only experience of reading he had was for an assignment and for a grade, and never for pleasure. The second story was of a woman writer and approached her, telling Morrison of the difficulty of writing honest literature while living in a country that would suppress literature.
The only connection between the two is that the both deal with books, one from the reader s perspective, the other from the author s. Morrison combines these two into a brief discussion on the necessity of reading and writing, and the enjoyment that can be found from each, and how these are necessary despite (or perhaps, because) of how much of an industry books has become.
This is such a short speech that it won t take up much time to read it, and I think I heard the cadences of Morrison s speaking voice while reading the text. I would imagine that hearing Morrison give the speech would be a superior experience over reading it, but I m glad that I read it. This is an acceptance speech, but it gives an insight into the mind of Toni Morrison.