Toni Morrison died in 2019. When she did, she received as much acclaim as our culture ever affords novelists, these days. Speaking as someone who’s read the novels of the first half of her career - The Bluest Eye (excellent if at times uneven), Sula
Agreed on Jazz. It and Paradise were the books where she ditched Robert Gottllieb as her editor and they were her weakest IMO( She came back to him for the rest of her career). I think part of the response to Morrison after she died was a clap back to the hyperbolic accusations of racism thrown at right wing reviewers in the 80's and 90's. I will add this to what you said about Angelou, which I agree with as well: I remember as a kid seeing the Phil Donahue Episode about Black men's anger toward black feminist literature. I really don't want to sound performative, but the environment was fucking brutal, man. Here in the northwest. the biggest black literary event wasn't Morrison,,Walker, or even Coates. It was brothers filling up the paramount theater to hear Sharazad Ali tell them it was okay to "slap a black woman in the mouth". I'm not excusing the new age work, I just put in the the context of her getting tired and scared, finding a safe easy money angle in her writing. and deciding to put away the Maya who wrote "Cool Drink of Water before I die" for her own equillibrium. I look forward to this book club.
This is such a good philosophy for so many aspects of life: “I hate feeling crowded by other people’s opinions. Of course, these are stupid reasons not to read a book, and the only way to really escape other people’s opinions is to read it for yourself.”
I read Beloved many years ago, not for a class but on my own. I’m looking forward to our conversations!
I had not read. I’m wide open as I have no preconceived notions other than Toni Morrison being a great writer. My first foray here. Excited to be here!
I finally became a paying subscriber just to join the book club! I've tried book clubs with friends but failed miserably because nobody reads. This will be my third reading of Beloved, haven't read it in a few years but I've always considered Morrison to be one of the best American writers. Looking forward to being part of this group!
This is a reread for me, though it's been so many years that it will feel fresh. I remember starting the book a little warily for the reasons you mentioned above, but ended up enjoying it. I've wanted to participate in these book clubs for a while but couldn't (work got crazy, wanted to commit to the full thing and not drop off) so this seems like a good place to start :)
well, lucky for the newbies, you've certainly set the scene.
I knew absolutely nothing on my first read and I was utterly confused (but persevered)... and when the back story finally clicked, I was too lazy to go back and restart the book. that's a school assignment (external motivation) for you.
Years later I watched the Oprah movie and then read the whole thing in one night; it was that engaging! And that's what internal motivation does :)
I'm looking forward to this one, as I used to teach the novel. Having read it every year for a decade, I probably won't reread again but will enjoy following along and refreshing my memory.
Two minor corrections: the novel is in three parts (the third quite short), and I think Noble's painting must be "The Modern MEDEA," no?
I’ve never been in a ‘book club’ before and I’ve never read anything by Toni Morrison. Thanks for the opportunity
'Jazz' is my favorite of her works! (Have read the ones you read, minus 'Tar Baby' plus 'Beloved'.) It doesn't really hang together, I guess, but in its weird flow it resembles nothing I've read except, slightly, 'Absalom, Absalom!' It's, well, jazz; I find it exhilarating. Looking forward to following this book club.
Freddie, you mentioned this is the only one of her first seven novels you haven't read. Did you mean "six," or did you leave PARADISE out of your brief list earlier in the piece? Curious to hear your thoughts on that one if, in fact, you've read it. For me, it's a toss-up between that and BELOVED -- they're both awfully good. The only other one I've read is THE BLUEST EYE, which wasn't quite as strong although I still enjoyed it. (Well, "enjoyed" is maybe not the right word.)
Freddie, my copy is the 1987 hardback, which I've never read till now. Not sure how the pagination matches your paperback - can you tell us what's the last sentence we're supposed to get to - or will that spoil things?