"Reading/Writing ‘the most wretched business’:
The epilogue of Toni Morrison’s A Mercy (2008) is narrated by the teenage character-narrator Florens’ mother. Though addressed to her daughter, the mother’s words are heard/read only by the reader, who is left with the (merciful?) gift of understanding and reinterpreting the very act that is at the center of the novel. The picture (s)he shapes, the “telling” (s)he hears (161), are conditioned by Florens’ narration—the affective lens through which “the world” (161) and the narrative are to be read. The reader’s legitimacy is recognized and rewarded at the very end of A Mercy. Indeed, the mother’s account, conjured up by Florens, is staged as an imaginary reconciliation, arising from the reading itself, as well as from the reader’s affective, aesthetic desire for such reconciliation.