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Jazz Hardcover – April 7, 1992
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From Library Journal
- Faye A. Chadwell, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
- Publisher : Knopf; 1st edition (April 7, 1992)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 240 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0679411674
- ISBN-13 : 978-0679411673
- Item Weight : 1.15 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #102,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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This being said, I found this novel to be a great pleasure, a story that's simple enough about a middle-aged married black couple The Traces in "the City" during 1920's the husband Joe Trace has a fling with a young girl named Dorcas Manfred whom he later kills in the middle of party though the girl's Aunt/Guardian doesn't press charges and the wife Violet "Violent" Trace tries to disfigure the dead girl in the casket at her funeral. That's basically it without giving away the novel. There is an almost sensual use of language here that tells the stories behind the story that is common in Morrison's novels that gives Jazz that particular kind of flavor that distinguishes it from Morrison's other works and makes this novel more than a pleasure to read. I highly recommend it!
Just like in Beloved, Morrison starts off by describing an event of egregious violence and then proceeds to flesh out the lives of the characters and illuminates what drove them to commit the act. While Beloved is about the abundance of motherly love, this is about the abundance of romantic love. The characters of Joe and Violet end up killing and mutilating a seventeen year old girl, all in the name of jealousy and love.
As the book progresses Morrison shows what happened to their marriage and what drove the characters to make the choices that resulted in the death of Dorcas. The way the narrator told the story was very interesting, because it adopted the tone of different people. Sometimes the narrator was speaking as a neighbor, a shop keeper, a friend, or The City itself. I especially enjoyed the ending section where Morrison herself narrates directly to the reader. Throughout the book I really got a sense of the 1920s Harlem society where the story happened. The language of the book evoked a Jazz arrangement with different character's voices coming out over the undertones of the narrator, almost like a solo. I loved how different sections referred back to other sections, and different scenes gradually fleshed out the entire events.
What i found most interesting about this book was the theme of how racism and slavery divided families and destroyed black American society, which resulted in intraracial violence. I also liked how near the end when Joe was out looking for Dorcas it mixed with an early account of him looking for his Mother in the woods of Virginia showing how his disjointed family created his search for a woman to have an affair with and his inherent anger at her leaving him.
Overall a very interesting book, and it made 1920s Harlem (both the good and bad) come alive. Interested to read Paradise next.