2016 Reading List #9: The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison

Okay, guys, I’ll admit it: I’ve long been intimidated by Toni Morrison.

The Bluest Eye was my first venture into the Nobel prize-winning writer’s prolific canon. I’ve been very interested in Morrison’s work and have read bits of her literary criticism (which is super rad, by the way), but I’d never read anything of hers, despite having three of her novels on my bookshelf.

Sometimes not having majored in English as an undergrad has it’s cons.

Anyway, I’ve decided 2016 is the year for me to amend a few of my literary faux pas, and since I’ve already completed my goal to read at least 2 Shakespearean plays, I decided to cross another goal off the list by delving into Toni Morrison-land. And I survived!

Somewhere in my past I remember reading or seeing or imagining that The Bluest Eye was a good novel of Morrison’s to begin with–it was her first, after all. The story is really about a few young black girls living in Lorain, Ohio, but some chapters also broaden the scope to give perspectives on other characters in the community.

The novel opens with a horrifying revelation–that 11-year-old Pecola will become pregnant with her father’s baby–so there’s a certain sense of morose anticipation as you wait for that moment to come about. Pecola herself, though, is more concerned with her desire for blue eyes, something she thinks will make her prettier and more like other pretty (and white) girls she knows.

The book is full of meaty passages discussing racial tension, self-hate, and the desire to be someone other than who you are. Morrison knows how to craft the kind of sentence that makes you go, “huh, I feel like an idiot because never, ever could I imagine writing something that profound.” Sometimes that feeling is a bit depressing, but in this case, it leaves your more in awe at her capability (that far exceeds your own, of course).

So, now that another goal is crossed off my list, I’m going to return a bit to Hemingway’s collection of short stories I’ve barely begun, and also to something lighter: Career of Evil, the third book in J.K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike series (written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith). I’m certain the latest mystery will keep me happily engrossed as I travel to Park City, Utah for the 2016 Sundance Film Festival on Tuesday (!!!!).

See you on the other side, friends!


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