Toni Morrison
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Jazz (Toni Morrison Trilogy #2)

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  11,930 ratings  ·  544 reviews
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.

Joe Trace and his wife Violet were part of the migration of black southerners to Harlem; madly in love with each other and the idea of this urban m

Published by Turtleback Books (first published 1992)
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mark monday
got lost in all the lovely words, loved getting lost. minor note but major emotions. narrative glides down perfect prose pathways and through poetic passages to different destinations, into one mind and out of another, into many minds, past future past future, man. who knows where the next road goes, probably somewhere bad, tragedy and bloodshed and murder and all kinds of fucked up and twisted emotions, but it all reads so pretty. can I understand such things? I don't know but I can try. this i...more
Jan 15, 2009 brian rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to brian by: alisa
jazz. the 3rd morrison in my plan to knock ‘em all out over the next month or so…significantly weaker than the other two i’ve read, but still... it’s almost a shame that morrison writes about such incendiary and zeitgeisty stuff as you pull back much of the (mostly) nonsensical cultural criticism that surrounds her, her work, and her readers and she’s just a first class storyteller. just a great, great writer. amongst all the tragedy and despair, there’s a joyfulness in the work (and, for me, on...more
The music happens in the background… while the folks are front and centre, every blemish inside and out on view, though modestly shaded and wrapped in gentlest understanding. Part of that understanding is history, not excavated, but unfurled or traced carefully with one finger, because it is still alive and hurting. Kinship structures the story, which curls around time, helical, branching... it is a sinewy vine, hacked at in places yet blossoming out, covering itself with fresh, lush, resurgent...more
Ems Dawson
One of my favorite books of all time!

I was lucky enough to study this book during 6th form college with a good teacher. Instead of butchering its beauty she illuminated it; leading us through the more complex prose (their beauty all more appreciated due to a deeper level of understanding) and highlighting some of the more obscure elements that might have gone unnoticed (or perhaps not understood).

At 16, though not niave, I was perhaps unaware of the many elements and angles of understanding rela...more
I like Toni Morrison. Beloved is one of my top 10 favorite books of all time. My first Morrison, The Bluest Eye, took me by surprise with it's power. I appreciated the rhythm of Jazz, but couldn't connect to the story.
Anyone who has been through adversity knows the view. It’s that view of life stripped down to nothing but the basic. All you’re left with is your breath, and sometimes that feels like it’s slipping away. But you still have something, even if it’s ugly, even if it has no map, even if no one cares. What happens next is a choice. You can choose to take the basics of life that are left and build around them. What you weave becomes something on your terms. Why else does adversity create some of the b...more
Just as 'Beloved' dealt with maternal love, in this work Morrison turns to jealousy and romantic love and produces another brilliant novel: poetic, vivid, sensual. Looking at the negative comments that some of the reviewers have given I think they mainly boil down to the effect that Morrison is difficult to read. If you're not willing to put in some effort and to actually use your imagination, then you had better return this to the book-store and swap it for that Stephen King novel you had your...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maggie Campbell
"...and when she got back to her apartment she took the birds from their cages and set them out the windows to freeze or fly, including the parrot that said, 'I love you.'"

"Maybe she thought she could solve the mystery of love that way. Good luck and let me know."

" have to be clever to figure out how to be welcoming and defensive at the same time. When to love something and when to quit. If you don't know how, you can end up out of control or controlled by some outside thing..."

"You are th...more
Jazz is the story of a couple living in Harlem during the Jazz Age, and by the "Jazz Age" I don't mean F. Scott Fitzgerald's Jazz Age--it is anything but that. Joe and Violet's relationship is virtually falling apart, due to some adultery and murder, which makes for a juicy start to the story. Morrison then takes us on a journey back a few generations, where we see that Joe and Violet's stormy relationship is the cause of generations worth of disfunction. It's a fascinating study of "the sins of...more
Here we have a rather twisted love triangle consisting of Joe and Joe's wife, Violet (often referred to as Violent due to some of her actions), and Joe's young lover, Dorcas. The narrative has more to do with jazz than the actual story, in that it flows musically (yet discordantly at times), reminiscent of jazz/blues music. Jumping from 1920s Harlem to the antebellum South, there is an exceptional amount of history in this rather small book.

I felt rather disconnected from the story itself, never...more
Come l'assolo di un sax.

Avevo tentato di acquistare questo romanzo della Morrison parecchi mesi fa, su Amazon. Sono stata in ballo a lungo, finché non mi è arrivata un'email, qualche tempo fa, che mi comunicava che il libro era irreperibile.
Ero già rassegnata all'idea di prenderlo in prestito in biblioteca, quando la settimana scorsa ho voluto provare ancora una volta a controllarne la disponibilità, ancora su Amazon.
Ce n'era una sola copia, usata, ed io l'ho presa al volo.
Oggi mi è arrivato...more
Jazz has some of the most beautiful descriptive passages in contemporary American fiction. For all of the speakeasy sin and drama the novel focuses on, the ending is surprising, an utterly stirring and sublime aria about married love--a triumph of vision and lyrical eloquence. I like how the book functions as a rousing meditation on the gap between lazy-minded gossip and challenging truth. It's also quite memorable for its keen and lovely depiction of salient elements of the Harlem Renaissance a...more
The language of this book is so beautiful, which makes an interesting counter-point to the lives of the characters which often are so far from beautiful. The structure of the narrative can feel a little disjointed at times as Morrison jumps from time to time, narrator to narrator. Despite this she weaves a moving tale with light and shade like the eponymous music for which the story is named. I highly recommend the audiobook, which for me really made the poetry and rhythm of the words more appar...more
Of Morrison's 10 novels this is the 7th I've read, and though I believe she ranks with Melville, O'Connor, Faulkner, and DeLillo as the five truly great fiction writers this country has ever produced, I ended up viewing this book as quite mediocre. This is a shame, as the first half was at a 4.25 star level, with a very Morrisonesque love story of a salesman, his beautician wife, and the young woman who is loved and then murdered by the former before being stabbed at her own funeral by the latte...more
I had expected Jazz to be about music or musicians, it but was more about the people whose lives were infused and touched with jazz. The sort of people whose story jazz would tell.

The name of the novel and the form are very much interconnected. The book seems improvised as it goes, like a series of riffs. At first I thought the nameless narrator was a perhaps a gossipy neighbor, or some other character in the story, but clearly the narrator is something much more. Is she Jazz, or the city person...more
Roger DeBlanck
Jazz is perhaps Morrison’s most unique and elusive novel. Nearly five years after winning the Pulitzer for Beloved and a year before she received the Nobel Prize, Jazz was published in 1992. The novel solidified Morrison’s reputation as a writer whose daring has no bounds, as she offers readers a maze of narratives that stretch out like branches but always remain connected to the tree. Alternating between the country and the city, between the past and the present, Jazz tells the story of Joe and...more
This is a sad tale of love, revenge, heartache and tragedy soulfully told by the expert word-smith Morrison whose prose just seems to lap over me like water. I absolutely love her writing and it has a sing-song quality which suits the period in this novel, the era of early jazz, which is appealing to me. She can set the tone of her backdrops so evocatively in very few words. The musical quality of her prose suits the storyline in this novel very well. This is the third Morrison book I have read...more
Suzanne Moore
This is my second Toni Morrison book, consumed audio-style. I love her lyrical imagery, but as I said with my last Morrison book, "Beloved," I think this is one to READ again.

Joe and Violet, the aging couple have lived through hard times and a childless marriage. Violet's miscarriges have left her distant and empty. This leads Joe into temptation ... looking for a woman's attention and sense of love. Enter Dorcas, a young girl who is easily seduced, maybe flattered herself by the attentions of...more
In my mind, Toni Morrison is not so much a writer as she is a highly skilled carpet weaver with a degree in neuroscience.

Weaver: Her stories are intricate, complex, and beautiful, in a way that reminds me of high quality rugs. At a pace that feels both comfortable and natural, but is in reality only known to her, she introduces disparate narrative threads that she then weaves and intertwines with one another in the most unexpected ways, creating dozens of patterns of varying size and shape that...more
Jazz happened to be my first Toni Morrison novel. The details through which the narrator speaks of the City and the role the individual characters' lives play within it seduces and unsettles the reader.

Upon hearing the plot line of the novel being about a 50 year old married man engaging in a love affair with an 18 year old, and consequently murdering her as a result of what can only be called jealousy, I was expecting drama of some kind. A literary sprinkling of the Maury show, or an educated...more
Michael Bryson
[This review first appeared in Imprint, University of Waterloo, June 26, 1992]

"Sth, I know that woman. She used to live with a flock of birds on Lenox Aveune. Know her husband, too. He fell for an eighteen-year-old girl with one of those deepdown, spooky loves that made him so sad and happy he shot her just to keep the feeling going."

There is a school of literary criticism that holds to the belief that black women writers are doubly discriminated against in their quest for intellectual recogniti...more
Joe Campe
Morrison's beautiful literary depictions of city life inspired a bit of writing about rhythm on Haley and my most recent National Park road trip. Here is the entry:


Moving from the city buzz to the still of the woods and back and forth and back again has heightened my awareness of the different inherent rhythms present in both. Rhythm in the broadest sense of the word, but also in its precise definition: the variation of the length and accentuation of a series of sounds.

In Jazz, Toni Morri...more
Brandon Floyd
Morrison is able to navigate setting, tone and time better than any writer I've ever read, but she doesn't pull that off quite as well in Jazz. It took quite some time for me to get into the narrative of this novel, and once the writing finally hits its stride Morrison completely shifts focus from foreground to back-story. While the writing remains effective and thought-provoking, the storytelling suffers. At just 229 pages, there simply isn't enough room for the digressions taken in the latter...more

Overview: Joe Trace is a middle aged married man (Violet, wife) who has an affair with an 18 year old Dorkas and shoots her over anguish of her breaking up with him.

Characters: The first half of the book looked at Violet and touched on the affair and general growing up aspects in what I would call a simple to read type writing. However, the second half of the book was almost written by a different author. I actually had to read 10% of the book again because I had difficulty understandin...more
I fell in love with Toni Morrison in high school. I was in France--- and my future English teacher gave me a list of books to read in preparation for AP English my senior year. I was HUNGRY for literature in English....and devoured Song of Solomon. Loved that book. And I loved The Bluest Eye....and then in college Beloved. I did not love Sula....and I did not love this book. Fifty pages in and the only reason I stuck with the book was because it was written by Toni Morrison.

The writing is dry.....more
May 25, 2010 Ruth rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: jazz lovers; Morrison fans
Shelves: fiction
229 pages. Donated 2010 May.

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.
Joe Trace and his wife Violet were part of the migration of black southerners to Harlem; 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, th...more
Unlike most people I know, I didn't read any Toni Morrison in high school (e.g. Sula, The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon) so this was my first Toni Morrison novel and I did not know what to expect. I know some people love her writing but this book was not really for me. The first thing that bothered me about this book was that Morrison would go into these poetic descriptions that I just did not have any interest in. The other thing that I didn't care for was that the voice of the story would random...more
"I laughed but before I could agree with the hairdressers that she was crazy, she said, 'What's the world for if you can't make it up the way you want it?'
"'The way I want it?'
"'Yeah. The way you want it. Don't you want it to be something more than what it is?'
"'What's the point? I can't change it.'
"'That's the point. If you don't, it will change you and it'll be your fault cause you let it. I let it. And messed up my life.'
"'Messed it up how?'
"'Forgot it.'
"'Forgot it was mine. My life...more
Lisa James
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...more
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African-American ...: Jazz by Toni Morrison: Kisha & Lulu 13 16 Aug 03, 2014 11:28AM  
Who is the narrator? 7 137 Mar 18, 2014 02:11AM  
The Transatlantic...: Reactions 1 4 Feb 07, 2014 05:24AM  
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Toni Morrison (born Chloe Anthony Wofford), is an American author, editor, and professor who won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature for being an author "who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality."
Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed African American characters; among the best k...more
More about Toni Morrison...
Beloved The Bluest Eye Song of Solomon Sula Paradise (Toni Morrison Trilogy, #3)

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“Don't ever think I fell for you, or fell over you. I didn't fall in love, I rose in it.” 490 likes
“Pain. I seem to have an affection, a kind of sweettooth for it. Bolts of lightning, little rivulets of thunder.
And I the eye of the storm.”
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