Wednesday, April 06, 2005

50 in 05: The Bluest Eye

#13: The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison. Someone saw me reading THE BLUEST EYE and asked how I liked it.

"I like it okay," I told them.

"I heard Toni Morrison is too wordy," they said.

I don't know what that means, but what I said in response was, "Well, if you've got two-hundred blank pages to fill, you might as well be wordy, I guess."

The woman smiled and said, "Yeah, I guess so," and we went back to not talking.

I like THE BLUEST EYE because it's built with a structure I would never think to write a story with. The novel revolves around Pecola, but it opens and closes and is interspersed with first-person accounts from Claudia; we jump back in time and hear the stories of Cholly and Mrs. Breedlove; we hear a conversation between Pecola and her madness. It's like an experiment (or a dozen experiments) that collate into a complete novel.

Before I read it I was told it was autobiographical fiction tied to a place instead of a life, but to me it was the feeling that came through--autobiographical fiction tied to alienation and fear and potential lost. That said, I didn't read the author's afterword. I don't mind talking about a novel or a play or any piece of art--I like it a lot--and I like it when an artist talks about creation in a general sense, or with regard to their own process. But at the same time, when I order a bowl of soup I don't want the cook to come out before, during, or after to tell me all about what's in the soup. I just want to eat the soup, you know? And if I choose to discuss what I liked, disliked, or was indifferent to about the soup, that's my own business.

I spent a week living with this book and there are still things I can't get out of my head. Cholly's chapter, Soaphead Church . . . yeah. Way to pick 'em, Oprah.

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