Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Word Porn

The Bluest EyeThe Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


In the 1960s, a woman sat to write a book that changed the literary world. It gave a voice to the young, black girl. It gave words to the struggle to find right in an era of racism. It gave a spotlight to a supremely talented writer who went on to pen books that will serve as social commentaries of history during her years. Toni Morrison's book The Bluest Eye later won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.

I found it when I was in between my first and second years of university, and I ate it up whole.

I read The Bluest Eye in three days, flat.

I sit now at my desk, years later, having just finished reading it for a second time. This is certainly a book I will visit again and again, because it's not a story that hangs on plot, but on language. That is not to say it is lacking in plot. The story could be any neighbourhood's story. But the characters, and the depth within them which Morrison reveals, paint a picture of humanity. She gives humanity and compassion to every character in The Bluest Eye, even the ones who do terrible things like rape their daughter, or shun a girl just because she's ugly.

The story follows a young girl, Pecola, for a year in her life, and weaves in and out of narratives of incest, racism, child molesting, cruelty and class structure.

The title refers to Pecola's desire to have blue eyes so that all the ugliness she feels would disappear, and people would learn to love her despite her otherwise black skin and ugly beauty.

I've mentioned before that I have a great interest in books with themes of racism, especially pertaining to that of the southern states.That got me to pick up this book, but what will keep me returning to this story is Morrison's words.

This novel is word porn. Toni Morrison's soliloquies on inequality, beauty, sacrifice, and yearning are told with precision, simplicity and a sharp focus. Her writing is beautiful.

On women conversing in the kitchen:

"Their conversation is like a gently wicked dance: sound meets sound, curtsies, shimmies, and retires. Another sound enters but is upstaged by another: the two circle each other and stop."

She continually sweeps me into a dance: sometimes slow and sweet, sometimes fast and chaotic, but she keeps me in step and on rhythm with her words. I am probably going to spend the rest of the evening researching her work as a professor of writing so I can learn more about where her genius takes root in practice.

I love, love, love this book and I will greedily hang on to it to read over and over until I am lulled into an effortless use of beautiful words, like Morrison does in The Bluest Eye.





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3 comments:

  1. Provocative blog title! I'll have to request this book from my library while I'm renewing my overdues!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love it. Adding this book to my 'must read' list missy!
    Hope things are well with you.
    xo
    Buggy

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  3. Thanks! I wish I could be Oprah and mail this book to everyone I know!
    Bug: Hanging in there! You?

    ReplyDelete

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