by Toni Morrison

Audio Other(Other - Abridged, 2 Cassettes)

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In the afterglow of a clean triumph—her widely celebrated, Pulitzer Prize-winning best-seller, Beloved—Toni Morrison moves to even higher ground. This, her eagerly awaited new novel, Jazz, is spellbinding for the haunting passion of its profound love story, and for the bittersweet lyricism and refined sensuality of its powerful and elegant style.

It is winter, barely three days into 1926, seven years after Armistice; we are in the scintillating City, around Lenox Avenue, "when all the wars are over and there will never be another one...At last, at last, everything's ahead...Here comes the new. Look out. There goes the sad stuff. The bad stuff. The things-nobody-could-help stuff." But amid the euphoric decisiveness, a tragedy ensues among people who had train-danced into the City, from points south and west, in search of promise.

Joe Trace—in his fifties, door-to-door salesman of Cleopatra beauty products, erstwhile devoted husband—shoots to death his lover of three months, impetuous, eighteen-year-old Dorcas ("Everything was like a picture show to her"). At the funeral, his determined, hard-working wife, Violet, herself a hairdresser—who is given to stumbling into dark mental cracks, and who talks mostly to birds—tries with a knife to disfigure the corpse.

In a dazzling act of jazz-like improvisation, moving seamlessly in and out of past, present, and future, a mysterious voice—whose identity is a matter of each reader's imagination—weaves this brilliant fiction, at the same time showing how its blues are informed by the brutal exigencies of slavery. Richly combining history, legend, reminiscence, this voice captures as never before the ineffable mood, the complex humanity, of black urban life at a moment in our century we assumed we understood.

Jazz is an unprecedented and astonishing invention, a landmark on the American literary landscape—a novel unforgettable and for all time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679411932
Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/28/1992
Edition description: Abridged, 2 Cassettes
Product dimensions: 4.39(w) x 7.02(h) x 0.75(d)

About the Author

Toni Morrison was born in Lorain, Ohio. She now divides her time between Rockland County, New York, and Princeton, New Jersey. She is Robert F. Goheen Professor, Council of the Humanities, Princeton University. She is the author of five other novels: The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, which won the 1978 National Book Critics Award for fiction, Tar Baby and Beloved, which won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.


Princeton, New Jersey, and Manhattan

Date of Birth:

February 18, 1931

Date of Death:

August 5, 2019

Place of Birth:

Lorain, Ohio

Place of Death:

New York


Howard University, B.A. in English, 1953; Cornell, M.A., 1955

Read an Excerpt

Sth, I know that woman. She used to live with a flock of birds on Lenox Avenue. Know her husband, too. He fell for an eighteen-year-old girl with one of those deepdown, spooky loves that made him so sad and happy he shot her just to keep the feeling going. When the woman, her name is Violet, went to the funeral to see the girl and to cut her dead face they threw her to the floor and out of the church. She ran, then, through all that snow, and when she got back to her apartment she took the birds from their cages and set them out the windows to freeze or fly, including the parrot that said, "I love you."

The snow she ran through was so windswept she left no footprints in it, so for a time nobody knew exactly where on Lenox Avenue she lived. But, like me, they knew who she was, who she had to be, because they knew that her husband, Joe Trace, was the one who shot the girl. There was never anyone to prosecute him because nobody actually saw him do it, and the dead girl's aunt didn't want to throw money to helpless lawyers or laughing cops when she knew the expense wouldn't improve anything. Besides, she found out that the man who killed her niece cried all day and for him and for Violet that is as bad as jail.

Regardless of the grief Violet caused, her name was brought up at the January meeting of the Salem Women's Club as someone needing assistance, but it was voted down because only prayer—not money—could help her now, because she had a more or less able husband (who needed to stop feeling sorry for himself), and because a man and his family on 134th Street had lost everything in a fire. The Club mobilized itself to come to the burnt-out family's aid and left Violet to figure out on her own what the matter was and how to fix it.

She is awfully skinny, Violet; fifty, but still good looking when she broke up the funeral. You'd think that being thrown out the church would be the end of it—the shame and all—but it wasn't. Violet is mean enough and good looking enough to think that even without hips or youth she could punish Joe by getting herself a boyfriend and letting him visit in her own house. She thought it would dry his tears up and give her some satisfaction as well. It could have worked, I suppose, but the children of suicides are hard to please and quick to believe no one loves them because they are not really here.

Anyway, Joe didn't pay Violet or her friend any notice. Whether she sent the boyfriend away or whether he quit her, I can't say. He may have come to feel that Violet's gifts were poor measured against his sympathy for the brokenhearted man in the next room. But I do know that mess didn't last two weeks. Violet's next plan—to fall back in love with her husband—whipped her before it got on a good footing. Washing his handkerchiefs and putting food on the table before him was the most she could manage. A poisoned silence floated through the rooms like a big fishnet that Violet alone slashed through with loud recriminations. Joe's daytime listlessness and both their worrying nights must have wore her down. So she decided to love—well, find out about—the eighteen-year-old whose creamy little face she tried to cut open even though nothing would have come out but straw.

Violet didn't know anything about the girl at first except her name, her age, and that she was very well thought of in the legally licensed beauty parlor. So she commenced to gather the rest of the information. Maybe she thought she could solve the mystery of love that way. Good luck and let me know.

She questioned everybody, starting with Malvonne, an upstairs neighbor—the one who told her about Joe's dirt in the first place and whose apartment he and the girl used as a love nest. From Malvonne she learned the girl's address and whose child she was. From the legally licensed beauticians she found out what kind of lip rouge the girl wore; the marcelling iron they used on her (though I suspect that girl didn't need to straighten her hair); the band the girl liked best (Slim Bates' Ebony Keys which is pretty good except for his vocalist who must be his woman since why else would he let her insult his band). And when she was shown how, Violet did the dance steps the dead girl used to do. All that. When she had the steps down pat—her knees just so—everybody, including the exboyfriend, got disgusted with her and I can see why. It was like watching an old street pigeon pecking the crust of a sardine sandwich the cats left behind. But Violet was nothing but persistent and no wisecrack or ugly look stopped her. She haunted PS-89 to talk to teachers who knew the girl. JHS-139 too because the girl went there before trudging way over to Wadleigh, since there were no high schools in her district a colored girl could attend. And for a long time she pestered the girl's aunt, a dignified lady who did fine work off and on in the garment district, until the aunt broke down and began to look forward to Violet's visits for a chat about youth and misbehavior. The aunt showed all the dead girl's things to Violet and it became clear to her (as it was to me) that this niece had been hardheaded as well as sly.

One particular thing the aunt showed her, and eventually let Violet keep for a few weeks, was a picture of the girl's face. Not smiling, but alive at least and very bold. Violet had the nerve to put it on the fireplace mantel in her own parlor and both she and Joe looked at it in bewilderment.

It promised to be a mighty bleak household, what with the birds gone and the two of them wiping their cheeks all day, but when spring came to the City Violet saw, coming into the building with an Okeh record under her arm and carrying some stewmeat wrapped in butcher paper, another girl with four marcelled waves on each side of her head. Violet invited her in to examine the record and that's how that scandalizing threesome on Lenox Avenue began. What turned out different was who shot whom.

I'm crazy about this City.

Daylight slants like a razor cutting the buildings in half. In the top half I see looking faces and it's not easy to tell which are people, which the work of stonemasons. Below is shadow where any blasé thing takes place: clarinets and lovemaking, fists and the voices of sorrowful women. A city like this one makes me dream tall and feel in on things. Hep. It's the bright steel rocking above the shade below that does it. When I look over strips of green grass lining the river, at church steeples and into the cream-and-copper halls of apartment buildings, I'm strong. Alone, yes, but top-notch and indestructible—like the City in 1926 when all the wars are over and there will never be another one. The people down there in the shadow are happy about that. At last, at last, everything's ahead. The smart ones say so and people listening to them and reading what they write down agree: Here comes the new. Look out. There goes the sad stuff. The bad stuff. The things-nobody-could-help stuff. The way everybody was then and there. Forget that. History is over, you all, and everything's ahead at last. In halls and offices people are sitting around thinking future thoughts about projects and bridges and fast-clicking trains underneath. The A&P hires a colored clerk. Big-legged women with pink kitty tongues roll money into green tubes for later on; then they laugh and put their arms around each other. Regular people corner thieves in alleys for quick retribution and, if he is stupid and has robbed wrong, thieves corner him too. Hoodlums hand out goodies, do their best to stay interesting, and since they are being watched for excitement, they pay attention to their clothes and the carving out of insults. Nobody wants to be an emergency at Harlem Hospital but if the Negro surgeon is visiting, pride cuts down the pain. And although the hair of the first class of colored nurses was declared unseemly for the official Bellevue nurse's cap, there are thirty-five of them now—all dedicated and superb in their profession.

Nobody says it's pretty here; nobody says it's easy either. What it is is decisive, and if you pay attention to the street plans, all laid out, the City can't hurt you.

I haven't got any muscles, so I can't really be expected to defend myself. But I do know how to take precaution. Mostly it's making sure no one knows all there is to know about me. Second, I watch everything and everyone and try to figure out their plans, their reasonings, long before they do. You have to understand what it's like, taking on a big city: I'm exposed to all sorts of ignorance and criminality. Still, this is the only life for me. I like the way the City makes people think they can do what they want and get away with it. I see them all over the place: wealthy whites, and plain ones too, pile into mansions decorated and redecorated by black women richer than they are, and both are pleased with the spectacle of the other. I've seen the eyes of black Jews, brimful of pity for everyone not themselves, graze the food stalls and the ankles of loose women, while a breeze stirs the white plumes on the helmets of the UNIA men. A colored man floats down out of the sky blowing a saxophone, and below him, in the space between two buildings, a girl talks earnestly to a man in a straw hat. He touches her lip to remove a bit of something there. Suddenly she is quiet. He tilts her chin up. They stand there. Her grip on her purse slackens and her neck makes a nice curve. The man puts his hand on the stone wall above her head. By the way his jaw moves and the turn of his head I know he has a golden tongue. The sun sneaks into the alley behind them. It makes a pretty picture on its way down.

Do what you please in the City, it is there to back and frame you no matter what you do. And what goes on on its blocks and lots and side streets is anything the strong can think of and the weak will admire. All you have to do is heed the design—the way it's laid out for you, considerate, mindful of where you want to go and what you might need tomorrow.

I lived a long time, maybe too much, in my own mind. People say I should come out more. Mix. I agree that I close off in places, but if you have been left standing, as I have, while your partner overstays at another appointment, or promises to give you exclusive attention after supper, but is falling asleep just as you have begun to speak—well, it can make you inhospitable if you aren't careful, the last thing I want to be.

Hospitality is gold in this City; you have to be clever to figure out how to be welcoming and defensive at the same time. When to love something and when to quit. If you don't know how, you can end up out of control or controlled by some outside thing like that hard case last winter. Word was that underneath the good times and the easy money something evil ran the streets and nothing was safe—not even the dead. Proof of this being Violet's outright attack on the very subject of a funeral ceremony. Barely three days into 1926. A host of thoughtful people looked at the signs (the weather, the number, their own dreams) and believed it was the commencement of all sorts of destruction. That the scandal was a message sent to warn the good and rip up the faithless. I don't know who was more ambitious—the doomsayers or Violet—but it's hard to match the superstitious for great expectations.

Armistice was seven years old the winter Violet disrupted the funeral, and veterans on Seventh Avenue were still wearing their army-issue greatcoats, because nothing they can pay for is as sturdy or hides so well what they had boasted of in 1919. Eight years later, the day before Violet's misbehavior, when the snow comes it sits where it falls on Lexington and Park Avenue too, and waits for horse-drawn wagons to tamp it down when they deliver coal for the furnaces cooling down in the cellars. Up in those big five-story apartment buildings and the narrow wooden houses in between people knock on each other's doors to see if anything is needed or can be had. A piece of soap? A little kerosene? Some fat, chicken or pork, to brace the soup one more time? Whose husband is getting ready to go see if he can find a shop open? Is there time to add turpentine to the list drawn up and handed to him by the wives?

Breathing hurts in weather that cold, but whatever the problems of being winterbound in the City they put up with them because it is worth anything to be on Lenox Avenue safe from fays and the things they think up; where the sidewalks, snow-covered or not, are wider than the main roads of the towns where they were born and perfectly ordinary people can stand at the stop, get on the streetcar, give the man the nickel, and ride anywhere you please, although you don't please to go many places because everything you want is right where you are: the church, the store, the party, the women, the men, the postbox (but no high schools), the furniture store, street newspaper vendors, the bootleg houses (but no banks), the beauty parlors, the barbershops, the juke joints, the ice wagons, the rag collectors, the pool halls, the open food markets, the number runner, and every club, organization, group, order, union, society, brotherhood, sisterhood or association imaginable. The service trails, of course, are worn, and there are paths slick from the forays of members of one group into the territory of another where it is believed something curious or thrilling lies. Some gleaming, cracking, scary stuff. Where you can pop the cork and put the cold glass mouth right up to your own. Where you can find danger or be it; where you can fight till you drop and smile at the knife when it misses and when it doesn't. It makes you wonderful just to see it. And just as wonderful to know that back in one's own building there are lists drawn up by the wives for the husband hunting an open market, and that sheets impossible to hang out in snowfall drape kitchens like the curtains of Abyssinian Sunday-school plays.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Wonderful. . . . A brilliant, daring novel. . . . Every voice amazes.” —Chicago Tribune

“She may be the last classic American writer, squarely in the tradition of Poe, Melville, Twain and Faulkner.” —Newsweek

“[A] masterpiece. . . . She has moved from strength to strength until she has reached the distinction of being beyond comparison.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Thrillingly written . . . seductive. . . . Some of the finest lyric passages ever written in a modern novel.” —Chicago Sun-Times

“A compelling blend of heart and language. . . . Resounds with passion.” —The Boston Globe

“Marvelous. . . . Morrison is perhaps the finest novelist of our time.” —Vogue

“The author conjures up worlds with complete authority and makes no secret of her angst at the injustices dealt to black women.” —Edna O’Brien, The New York Times Book Review

“She captures that almost indistinguishable mixture of the anxiety and rapture of expectation—that state of desire where sin is just another word for appetite.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“As rich in themes and poetic images as her Pulitzer Prize–winning Beloved. . . . Morrison conjures up the hand of slavery on Harlem’s jazz generation. The more you listen, the more you crave to hear.” —Glamour

“She is the best writer in America. Jazz, for sure; but also Mozart.” —John Leonard, National Public Radio

“A masterpiece. . . . A sensuous, haunting story of various kinds of passion. . . . Mesmerizing.” —Cosmopolitan

“Lyrically brooding. . . . One accepts the characters of Jazz as generalized figures moving rhythmically in the narrator’s mind.” —The New York Times

“Transforms a familiar refrain of jilted love into a bold, sustaining time of self-knowledge and discovery. Its rhythms are infectious.” —People

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Jazz 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jazz is classic Morrison - Morrison at her finest!!! The circulinear plot structure reinforces the underlying notion that we are all connected or tied together on some level - either past, present, or future. The themes of love, obsession, and what happens when love shifts to hate are especially strong in this novel and begs us to question how thin is the line between love and hate? The improvisation of the mini vignettes and 'memories' that decorate the novel perfectly compliment the notion of 'jazz' or the jazz music structure. The lines are elaborately crafted and the narrative style is truly poetic. Subtle changes like Violet Trace's name transformation to 'Violent' at the end of the novel highlight the transformation that we all endure for love. Toni Morrison is at her best here and although her style is not for everyone - this is Nobel Prize writing for Nobel Prize readers!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great story. Best parts when she follows the history of Joe Trace's family and weaves the tale to match that of Violet's with True Belle, Golden Gray, Lestory, Hunter and Wild. It shows Toni is a master at weaving history and generations together even as they struggle to keep from falling apart.
AMD22 More than 1 year ago
I suppose Jazz was an intriguing book. It wasn't as fascinating as I had hoped it to be. When I was reading it and a friend was very impressed by this book, I thought that maybe I would be too. However, that wasn't the case. If you are doing an English Paper about Symbolism and abstract characters, Jazz is the right book for you. But, if you're just trying to find a book to read at home, on a rainy day or going home from school/work, this book totally isnt for you. I respect Toni Morrison as an Author and fellow writer, and I have to admit this book is better than the other 3 books I attempted to read from her, but I would not read it again for fun. The Characters in this novel are fantastic on the other hand. I loved Violet. Her attitude and how she portrays herself was fascinating. I suppose she's the typical [sterotype] New York City Woman being jealous of her husband who has cheated on her. There are also lots of other characters that without them the book wouldn't be complete. How Toni Morrison wove her characters into her story was fascinating and she's an intelligent writer who should be recognized about her feminist and racial ideas. If you are interested in a book where the narrator speaks in riddles and metaphors most of the time, Jazz is for you. I recommend this book to people who are doing an Author Study or a paper about symbolism. Or, one should try to read it, to give it a try. It's not that atrocious. Try it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Written beautifully. Poetic and lyrical. Toni is a fantastic writer and i'm offcially and fan of hers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow! This is the first Morrison novel I have read, but it will NOT be the last! I got this book for Christmas and just got around to reading it. I cannot believe it took me this long to get to it, and it was the BEST novel I have ever read. I would suggest this novel to anyone!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Toni writes in great detail the love that Dorcas and Joe shared, but she skips through the book with every other paragraph. It is a great tradegy when Joe finds his love affair with another man and his wife gets a little crazy at the funeral but, I wouldn't read it again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For many African-Americans, the period from 1860 through 1930 was a particularly challenging one. The formal slavery of the South transitioned into a vulnerable rural economic existence, dependent on the weather and the price of crops. The promise of the city lured many to leave their homes, and adopt city life-styles that put new social pressures on them and their relationships. Jazz tells this story through the microcosm of one marriage, that of Joe and Violet Trace. Unlike many books about marriage, this one is a love story. Although it bears no relationship to any romance novel you have ever read, it reveals the way that the need for love develops from within each of us and allows us to grasp its potential when we respond to the yearnings of those we care about. Music was important in the lives of many people during those years. Churches and music halls vied for the attention of most people in the cities. Jazz was a new influence, bursting on the scene with a combination of extreme freedom and mutual respect for the other players. In this book, jazz is represented both as a symbol of freedom and as a source of base impulses that can lead people astray. Ms. Morrison also pays homage to jazz by building her narrative around the individual stories of those involved taken in solitary order, much like the solos in a jazz piece. The narratives all weave together, but you have to hear the whole piece to understand how. Be patient with what seem like digressions. They are really transitions into new perspectives, like when a horn does a riff before returning to the theme. You also get the metaphor of jazz used in the relationship of the two Traces. They were originally in rhythm with each other, then fell out of rhythm, and then regained their ability to improvise together. It's very nicely done! To me, the best part of the book was that Ms. Morrison does not permit her characters to fall back on misfortune, fate, and heredity as excuses for misbehavior. Clearly, those factors affect us, but we all have the potential to rise above them. We need only open our eyes and start responding to those closest to us. Then, we can build a better life together. The family background of the two Traces is a rich tapestry as well of the social history of African-Americans during this period. Ms. Morrison's imagination is quite remarkable in the variety and vividness of these characters! For those who are interested in understanding more about the roots of the Jazz Age, this book will also be very appealing. After you have finished thinking about the lessons of Jazz, you should consider where you display the good characteristics of a jazz player . . . and where you do not. Feel the rhythm around you! Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution
shan2001 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Morrison's "radiation" novel, as I call it. In that it was so non-linear. It was like a wheel with a center and spokes "radiating" from that center. The center is a "snapshot" image that she creates with words, amazingly: Violet and the knife over the coffin. A true snapshot photograph made with words. The rest of the story emanates from that core; that very disturbing, deep core. This is definitely a novel that you have to work with. Morrison even has this paragraph towards the end, that explores the interaction between reader and page. This is definitely a novel that you have to engage, you have to put forth in reading this. When I'm up for re-reading a Morrison novel, this will probably be the one I'd go to first.
Terzah on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book, one of my all-time favorites, speaks to me every time I read it. It exemplifies the best fiction to me, in that it takes the most sordid of human sins (adultery, murder) and transforms a tale centering on them into art, which is to say, into something beautiful. The beauty is not in the sin but in redemption and forgiveness. When I complain about other books, what I'm coming to realize I really mean is that the plot lacks some element of redemption. Redemption for me is hope.
amaryann21 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Though it took me awhile to get into, this book struck a chord and made my heart ache by the end. Like any good jazz song, it runs through the gamut of emotions and leaves you wanting more.
ocgreg34 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the few that I put down after reading the first few sentences. The rhythm and pacing threw me as I tried and retried that opening paragraph, and I reluctantly gave up, returning the book to the library the next day. Of course, that was about 10 years ago. Since then, I've read two of Morrison's books and enjoyed them immensely so I decided to give "Jazz" another go."Jazz" tells the story of Violet and Joe Trace, a couple struggling with a strained relationship in different ways: Violet starts to slowly lose herself, sitting down in the street for no reason, releases all the birds in the apartment; Joe shoots his teenaged lover, Dorcas, to death. Weaving back and forth in time, allowing each character -- even Dorcas -- an opportunity to tell his or her part in the events, the reader learns not just about the story of Violet and Joe, but also their family histories, what lead them to such a drastic point in their lives.I managed to make it past those first lines this time, finally understanding that Morrison used the language as her own interpretation of jazz music from the 1920s: flowing, rhythmic and repetitive, riffing off to tangents that hold you equally as strong as the original thread, but ultimately finding its way back. In that respect, the writing brilliantly created the feel of a big city just getting into the swing of jazz, affecting how people acted and spoke, how they walked, how they related to one another. While that held my interest, sometimes it detracted form the story, such as the tangent describing the City near the beginning going on for pages and pages though it didn't seem to have anything to do with the actual tale.Many of the sections felt that way to me -- I enjoyed how they were written, but what they were saying didn't seem to have an impact on the story as far as I could tell. Golden Gray, True Belle, the Wild Woman -- all finely drawn characters, but I scratched my head trying to understand what their stories had to do with Violet and Joe. I grudgingly forged ahead with those areas because when Morrison stuck to the tale of Joe and Violet, the story picked up steam and a definite direction.But I won't call this book one of my favorites. "Jazz" wound up feeling like more of an experiment in writing which sometimes worked.
novelcommentary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Again I found it rewarding to return to a Toni Morrison novel. In this story an unknown narrator tells the tale of Joe and Violet Trace. Joe got his name because that was what his parents left without.. .a trace, and Violet gets her named changed to Violent because she tries to cut the face of the dead 18 year old that her husband first wooed and then shot ¿just to keep the feeling going¿. And that`s only the first two pages. The narration switches back and forth between characters and time, also telling the story of Joe¿s mom, the Wild One and the man Golden Gray who was raised by Violet¿s Grandmother. There is a kind of music to the city of Harlem and the sensory images of the setting helps to establish this. I am always amazed at the catastrophic events that are seen as commonplace in the worlds of her characters. This story has the ability to make Joe, an adulterer and murderer, a sympathetic character who believe it or not is a good man. There is also a story of love here that we could never foresee until we get to know the history of these people. Morrison uses a narrator who in the end feels she has done poor job describing these people and wishes she lived her own life rather than just observed others. This perhaps is a reflective comment by the author, but I hope she nevers listens. The Amazon description details: In a dazzling act of jazz-like improvisation, moving seamlessly in and out of past, present, and future, a mysterious voice--whose identity is a matter of each reader's imagination--weaves this brilliant fiction, at the same time showing how its blues are informed by the brutal exigencies of slavery. Richly combining history, legend, reminiscence, this voice captures as never before the ineffable mood, the complex humanity, of black urban life at a moment in our century we assumed we understood.Jazz is an unprecedented and astonishing invention, a landmark on the American literary landscape--a novel unforgettable and for all time.--------------------------------------------------------------Morrison is the next author to read whenever you are disappointed in your latest book. Her language alone lets you know why you spend your quiet hours immersed in words.
zojo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think I may have started to read this in college, but know I never completed it first time round. A strange read - some of it I really enjoyed but at other times I felt like putting it down. On finishing it I think I did enjoy it, but nowhere near as much as Beloved.
Winshoe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
beautiful language but weak plot
Othemts on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a complex novel in which story lines are repeated and improvised much like a jazz piece. It's also a unique novel in which the book itself is the narrator. I'm a big Toni Morrison fan, and while it's hard to say so definitively, this may be my favorite of her novels. It's fun to read both for its creative style, interesting storytelling, and even its humor.
BraveKelso on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Impenetrable. Polemical novel of female grievances.
Dorritt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Towards the end of this book the narrator impatiently posits: "What's the use of living in the world if you can't make what you want of it?" (or words to that effect). I think that's at the core of this story - that freedom and self-realization come not from the things that happen to us, but from the choices we make about how to respond. Sometimes we choose wisely and sometimes poorly, but even the worst outcome is better than allowing the world to define you.Certainly the couple in this story, Joe Trace and his wife Violet, make heartbreaking choices. But how they face up to their choices, struggling not to give in to the violence, jealousy, and hardship that threatens to destroy them, not only makes for deep, empathetic characters and a compelling story, but also a pretty great life lesson. You could say that Toni Morrison approaches this novel with a similar attitude: what's the point of writing a novel if you can't make what you want of it? The story eschews the conventional transitions of most novels, wandering through time and across geography and between narrators. Her prose is similarly unconstrained, alternately sleekly between narration and lyric poetry. Requires the reader to attend, yes, but love the way this allows Morrison to move around the story, telling bits of it first from one perspective and then the other, preserving the layers and complexity of the tale through to the final words of the final chapter. Which, when you get down to it, is a lot like the musical form after which the book is titled. Like life, jazz is shaped by the choices that the artists make. Sometimes the result is lyrical, other times cacaphonous, but anyone who's every listened to jazz understands that the music is, at its core, entirely about freedom and self-realization.
aethercowboy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Morrison has soul, which is apparent from reading her novel, Jazz. Written in the style of jazz music, Jazz tells a story of Harlem, but drifts across time and space to help fill out the respective motif.The story focuses on Joe and Viole(n)t trace, each on opposite but similar ends of a spectrum when it comes to Joe's late mistress, Dorcas. As part of a larger, Dante-inspired trilogy (c.f. Beloved and Paradise), Jazz falls somewhere in between, which would put it in Purgatory, aptly so.Leveraging unique narrative and engaging characters, Morrison has put together a great piece to listen to by yourself, or improvise with your friends. Highly worth a read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Go to hug a heart res. 1 and then ill tell you where he is. Read the comments with you name on them. -anonymous
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Must say just so i dont sound like a hypocripte never read never will looks like stupid book no offence to the people who like this book but to the people who are just using this page for a social page, i have 3words for you get a life. No seriously get a life and a facebook account. This is not a chatting social page its a book review page so use it likewise. And another thing please stop anouncing there a going to be partys on this page its really stupid say that you give out your address to this person who you think is a teenage boy but really is a 50 year old man. Then he shows up at your door early or late and rapes you. There are some really messed up people out there. I know that some of you dont like getting talked at by adults ao im going to tell you my age. Im 13 dont believe me oh well.~~~~~~ ~jjjames age 13
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im looking for a friend :(
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ethan if your here please go to chick chat
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Any kind u want