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Jazz (1992)

by Toni Morrison

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,112512,050 (3.63)202
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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» See also 202 mentions

English (49)  German (1)  All languages (50)
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
This was a very difficult book to evaluate. First Toni Morrison's books are not easy reads, that is not to say that some are not great books, Toni Morrison is a great writer. She paints a scene with words as well as any author. Her stories are very solid at their worse and much better than the vast majority of authors. I loved Paradise, Beloved and Song of Solomon, none were an easy fast read. Every word was critical, skim and you lost the impact of the words and the picture and flavor they added to the story; the characters became just characters not the people Toni Morrison introduced you to.

In Jazz the words are often poetry, the picture they paint is real and full of color. The characters are very human, very real. The story strong and when it comes through the flow of the words provides tremendous insight to black life in New York City at a time shortly after WWI and just before the country fell into the deep depression. Unfortunately, at least for me, I found often the words and hence the writing often drew me away from the story and I found myself lost. I wish there was some way for me to explain it better but, for me, it made the story weaker and frustrating. My biggest frustration is this is a great story Toni Morrison has written. Maybe I am not sophisticated or learned in the art of writing to appreciate the beauty of this book. Nonetheless I cannot give it anything less than 4 stars as when in ebbed and flowed as I believed is should I found characters that were real people, stories that let me understand them and insight into a world I could never know.

For those who know and love Toni Morrison this is a must read.
( )
  can44okie | Aug 28, 2020 |
Did not impress me as much as "Beloved" but nevertheless it was an enjoyable read. It's about the aftermath of slavery and it's effect on subsequent generations . Set in New York in the Jazz age of the 1920''s the characters are still struggling with events from the past. ( )
  lesleynicol | Feb 2, 2020 |
It had a slow beginning, but I loved the net of relationships it composes along the way. The continuous change of narrator is a bit confusing, but I understand the idea behind it, as a sort of tale from the city (NY) and therefore wanting to expresses the different voices coming out of Harlem.
A good read anyway. ( )
  WabisabiGio | Dec 16, 2019 |
Amazing. How a story is told makes all the difference. ( )
  quondame | Sep 2, 2019 |
Why did I wait learning that she is no longer with us to take this book out off the shelf where it had been for years to open and read it? One of those - a long list really - that I want to read but don’t get around to, always no time, always others pushing in.
Toni Morrison plays with language: sentence and story structures, with words also. Not a linear narrative here. And voices talking to each other, yes sometimes, but also addressing - the narrator? - you who is reading, who is ready to listen? The thoughts: who is voicing them? or is saying in anticipating your thoughts?
The novel is written in many voices and the story not just centres on Joe and Violet, neither on the killing or what would have been a killing, these we find on the first pages, sometimes one, sometimes another voice dominates as it does in Jazz. You need to develop an ear for it and a liking and it becomes beautiful.
She opens up to me black lives in Harlem in the 1920s, now almost 100 years ago, with flashbacks to the rural South. In her wonderful way of writing she brings the women and men, in particular the women, to life in all their complexities and contradictions. The lives lived despite, despite … The music that says it as does her voice.

Now she opened a window for me and all her books are waiting. (VIII-19)
  MeisterPfriem | Aug 21, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Toni Morrisonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Vink, NettieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
I am the name of the sound
and the sound of the name.
I am the sign of the letter
and the designation of the division.
"Thunder, Perfect Mind," The Nag Hammadi
Dedication
For RW and George
First words
Sth, I know that woman.
Quotations
What good are secrets if you can't talk to anybody about them?
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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Wikipedia in English (1)

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.

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