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Jazz by Toni Morrison

Jazz (original 1992; edition 1993)

by Toni Morrison

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3,192341,745 (3.65)154
Authors:Toni Morrison
Info:New Amer Library (Mm) (1993), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, 1920s, Harlem, New York, African-American, slavery, historical fiction

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Jazz by Toni Morrison (1992)


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Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
While I loved the lyric quality of the writing (definitely living up to the title), the story itself didn't speak to me...I was a little disappointed, not because the book wasn't good (it was) but because I've had such strong emotional responses to other books by Toni Morrison.

It's possible I'm at the wrong age to read this book, though.... too old to be Dorcas or Felice, too young to be Violet. If I'm going to give the story another chance, I think I need to wait about 20 years. ( )
  ratastrophe | Jan 3, 2015 |
In the opening scenes, Joe shoots the woman with whom he'd had an affair after she ends the relationship. His wife Violet attacks the corpse at the funeral. Much of the rest of the book deals with the aftermath and with trying to put the pieces of the relationship back together. The characters are very flawed. The writing is excellent. It's one of those novels that has to be re-read to be fully appreciated. It's a book that would create some excellent discussion in book groups or classroom situations. I'm not certain I enjoyed it well enough to commit to a re-read. ( )
  thornton37814 | Apr 14, 2014 |
I REALLY love Toni Morrison as a writer. There's just something about her that is a mesmerizing storyteller. Jazz hooks you right from the start, with Violet showing up at the funeral of Dorcas, & trying to attack her as she lies in her coffin because Violet's husband Joe "took up with" this young girl, who was barely 18.

These characters are REAL, you hurt for them, you shake your head at them, you feel for them as their stories, histories, & back stories are told. The City, which is all it's referred to in the book, but which I finally figured out was actually NYC, is described in 1920's terms. I enjoyed the fact that you don't quite know who the narrator is, because it seems to change with each section of the book.

I thought this was a wonderful read. ( )
  Lisa.Johnson.James | Apr 11, 2014 |
This is the compelling story of a tragic attraction between an older man and a nihilistic young woman. It was the first book I'd ever read by Toni Morrison, and it totally blew me away.

The plot focuses on the aftereffects of the extramarital affair as well as the motivations behind the crime of passion the man commits when his paramour jilts him for someone closer to her age. The real story seems to concern how such events arise from a set of African American experiences and are ultimately recontained within that community.

Enthrallingly told, with compassion for all & justification for none, this wrenching tale and its beautiful language captured me completely. I was only a bit disappointed when the narrator asserted herself as an outside observer near the end, confessing that she hasn't caught the essence of her characters or their conflict. I respect her making these admissions, but I was loving the strong heady substance of the tragic love story undiluted by them.

Then, Morrison does something that--oddly enough!--reminded me of Wm Gibson's futuristic neural surgeries: She lifts her characters' emotional struggles out of the story, like an old photo from a frame, and says of their image: "I wonder, do they know they are the sound of snapping fingers under the sycamores lining the streets?"

The agony, the loss, even the lifelong love scarred by betrayal and sickness of the old married couple -- the immortal feelings beat on in the sounds of the music of their people -- JAZZ. ( )
  AnesaMiller | Mar 3, 2014 |
Joe and Violet have that comfortable kind of love. Joe was gentle. Violet could have been labeled eccentric. They owned a bird that said, "I love you." They came to the City from the South. They were products of that great migration. Then Joe laid eyes on teenage Dorcas while peddling beauty products. Dorcas drowned out Jazz and brought along the Blues.

Initially Morrison set all the characters before us along with all the necessary details. The rest of the story is the background and breakdown of all these characters and events. This was the wilderness for me. There were numerous times while reading through this wilderness, I wanted to scream, "Get to the point already."

Violet was always on the perimeter of the story to me. Her presence never bore any weight. Joe was gentle, weak, and possessive all at the same time. Dorcas was a dark cloud that loomed over the narrative. When Dorcas's friend Felice gave her account of events, I began to enjoy the novel. That came at the end.

When I read that this book involved a scorned wife trying to stab a corpse, I thought it has to be good. I must have missed it. I felt as if I was in a black hole the entire time. Even though I did not enjoy the entire book, there were passages that were simply brilliant. ( )
  pinkcrayon99 | Oct 3, 2013 |
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Toni Morrisonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Vink, NettieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Io sono il nome del suono e il suono del nome. Sono il segno della lettera e la designazione della divisione. "Tuono, mente perfetta" Nag Hammadi
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It's nice when grown people whisper to each other under the covers. Their ecstasy is more leaf-sigh than bray and the body is the vehicle, not the point. They reach, grown people, for something beyond and way, way down underneath tissue.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0452269652, Paperback)

Jazz embraces the vibrant music and lifestyle of 1920s Harlem, an urban renaissance of opportunity and glamour. A novel of murder, hard lives, and broken dreams, Jazz sways with a lyric medley of voices and human consciousness.

Narrated by the author, Toni Morrison, this is an intense but gratifying three hours of tape. Background jazz music enhances the feel of '20s Harlem, a city that attracted thousands of black southerners hoping for better lives. Joe Trace and his wife Violet were part of this migration; madly in love with each other and the idea of this urban mecca, they "traindanced into the city." But like so many of the marriages in Morrison's novels, this union crumbles, and the dreams for a better life fade away. Joe finds another, a love "that made him so sad and happy he shot her just to keep the feeling going."

In Jazz, time ebbs and flows like human memory, traversing between recollections of the past and expectations for the future; likewise, jazz music is often wild and chaotic. Here Morrison once again exemplifies herself as both a superb writer and a masterful storyteller.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:52:36 -0400)

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In the winter of 1926, when everybody everywhere sees nothing but good things ahead, Joe Trace, middle-aged door-to-door salesman of Cleopatra beauty products, shoots his teenage lover to death. At the funeral, Joe's wife, Violet, attacks the girl's corpse. This passionate, profound story of love and obsession brings us back and forth in time, as a narrative is assembled from the emotions, hopes, fears, and deep realities of Black urban life.… (more)

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