Morrison, Toni. Jazz. Alfred A Knopf, 1992.
Reason read: while it is not accurate, I read Jazz in honor of May being music month.
Joe and Violet are in the business of beauty. Joe sells cosmetics door to door and his wife is a home-visiting hairdresser. Usually a straight up and dependable man, Joe falls in obsessive love with a teenager named Dorcas. His passion for Dorcas forces him to kill her. At her funeral, in a fit of jealous insanity Joe’s wife, Violet, attempts to slash the dead girl’s face while she lay in her coffin. Violent Violet then goes home to free all of her pet birds. Her rage makes her human. The smartest character in the book is the City. I like the way the City makes people think they can do whatever they want and get away with it. The culture is full of passions, both right and wrong. Jazz will also take you back to July 1917, a time when Grandmother True Belle (great name) was afraid of Springfield, Massachusetts. (Kind of funny since I work in that urban area and sometimes I, too, am afraid of Springfield, Massachusetts.) Morrison’s vivid descriptions of culture are breathtaking.
Lines I loved, “Can’t rival the dead for love” (p 15) and “Two dollars will get you a woman on a store-bought scooter if you want it” (p 46). I have no idea what that means.
Playlist: Wings Over Jordan
Author fact: Princeton University could boast that Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison was on their payroll.
Book trivia: Jazz is part of the Dantesque Trilogy: Beloved, Jazz, and Paradise X.
Nancy said: Pearl used the words “jazzy syncopation” to describe Jazz.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “African American Fiction: She Say” (p 12).