Inspiration

Missing Toni Morrison

I was so sad to hear about Toni Morrison dying on August 5th. For best first lines of novels, for not settling until every single line of a novel — a novel! — resonated and percussed like poetry, for writing stuff that you want to read out loud just to hear it said — well, for all that (and so much more) I am grateful for Toni Morrison’s writing.

I first came across Toni Morrison the summer of ‘88. I was a college student working in Cambridge, Massachusetts and that summer I lived in a dorm room on the top floor. It was exceedingly hot and my room had a window but no fan. At night, I would pick up my Toni Morrison novel, arrange myself carefully on the bed (so as not to stick) and read. I still associate Toni Morrison’s writing with heat, and not wanting to move. That summer, I must not have moved much because I read a stack of her novels.

Here’s my Toni Morrison list:

  • Never read Toni Morrison? I’d start with The Bluest Eye. It’s shorter and it’ll give you a feel for her writing, which is dense and thoughtful, and yes, like poetry. After that, my favorite novels are the earlier ones: Sula, Tar Baby, Beloved, and Song of Solomon.

  • I enjoyed these podcasts about Toni Morrison: Fresh Air compiled three interviews in one HERE. I also liked this one on BBC 4 Front Row.

  • There’s this documentary too!

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