The Bluest Eye (Vintage International) Info

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New York Times Bestseller
Pecola
Breedlove, a young black girl, prays every day for beauty. Mocked by
other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set
her apart, she yearns for normalcy, for the blond hair and blue eyes
that she believes will allow her to finally fit in.Yet as her dream
grows more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face
of adversity and strife. A powerful examination of our obsession with
beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison’s virtuosic first novel asks
powerful questions about race, class, and gender with the subtlety and
grace that have always characterized her writing.
"You can't
go wrong by reading or re-reading the collected works of Toni
Morrison. BelovedSong of Solomon, The
Bluest Eye
Sula, everything else — they're
transcendent, all of them. You’ll be glad you read them."--Barack
Obama


Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for The Bluest Eye (Vintage International):

4

Dec 04, 2012

Just a few days ago I happened to have a conversation with someone (quite a 'well-read' person too) who said quite casually, almost in an offhand manner, how he found books written by women 'uninteresting'. On prodding him for the reason behind his 'disinterest', he replied that 'books written by women just do not engage' him. I didn't have the heart to ask him why a second time.
And there it sat between us, this knowledge of his disdain for women writers (for some hitherto unknown reason), like Just a few days ago I happened to have a conversation with someone (quite a 'well-read' person too) who said quite casually, almost in an offhand manner, how he found books written by women 'uninteresting'. On prodding him for the reason behind his 'disinterest', he replied that 'books written by women just do not engage' him. I didn't have the heart to ask him why a second time.
And there it sat between us, this knowledge of his disdain for women writers (for some hitherto unknown reason), like a breathing, venom-spitting, invisible monster quietly killing our conversation (thankfully!).

No evasion. Not even a half-hearted attempt at rescuing an uncomfortable situation. A wholly unabashed, flat out declaration made with the confident, self-righteous air of a reader who knows what good reading should consist of and, when it comes to that, exclude.

In retrospect, when I dwell on the memory of this horrendous, very real conversation, I experience a crushing hopelessness. It's not that particular guy I am mad at. No. He is only a minuscule part of the universal malady afflicting our collective psyche. It is this spirited tolerance for continued ignorance and apathy that infuriates me so. This tradition of belittling the female voice which speaks of personal sexual gratification, love, marriage, and childbirth, of the tyranny of beauty that forces her to adhere desperately to some predetermined standard of physical perfection - the right angle to her cheekbones, the right slope to her nose, the right lushness to her eyelashes, the right curve to her hips, the right skin color to match her hair and her eyes. All of this is terribly uninteresting isn't it?
"It was as though some mysterious all-knowing master had given each one a cloak of ugliness to wear, and they had each accepted it without question. The master had said, 'You are ugly people.' They had looked about themselves saw nothing to contradict the statement; saw, in fact, support for it leaning at them from every billboard, every movie, every glance. 'Yes,' they had said, 'You are right.' And they took the ugliness in their hands, threw it as a mantle over them, and went about the world with it."
So what if she is a Nobel laureate? So what if she created the most haunting, poignant and unforgettable elegy to the horrors that American slavery spawned?
So what if she has crafted an eleven-year-old, ugly and unfortunate Pecola Breedlove with the utmost sincerity? So what if she has made her ugly and unfortunate Pecola yearn for a shred of love and dignity in vain till her last days? So what if she has tried to shed some light on the unloved, the mercilessly trodden upon rejects of a community caught in the vicious trap of fatal self-loathing? So what if she has thought up a newer way to deconstruct the violence of a sexual crime by removing the convenient 'glamour of shame' routinely heaped on the victim? So what if she has tried to bestow humanity even on the ones beyond redemption? So what if she has offered a window into a world where a million and one injustices compete for primacy every moment?

Such trifling womanly subject matters do not mesh well with the reading tastes of a man! After all, the Doris Lessings and Elfriede Jelineks, Nadine Gordimers and Alice Munros, Zora Neale Hurstons and Zadie Smiths, the Jhumpa Lahiris and the Banana Yoshimotos, the Brontë sisters and Virginia Woolfs, write/wrote books for only women to read and appreciate.
'Women can't paint, women can't write...'

It hurts to know that the Charles Tansleys of the world are alive and well. But, thankfully, we have the Toni Morrisons to restore some balance. ...more
5

Feb 07, 2008

Toni Morrison doesn't get the respect she deserves and has rightfully earned. I think that part of this has to do with the unfortunate connotations people have regarding Oprah's Book Club and part of it stems from, if not outright racism and misogyny, than the racist and misogynist assumptions that Morrison is popular only because she is a nonwhite woman, liberal guilt etc. The latter is false: Toni Morrison has won the Pulitzer and the Nobel because she is an excellent author.

N.B. - Before I Toni Morrison doesn't get the respect she deserves and has rightfully earned. I think that part of this has to do with the unfortunate connotations people have regarding Oprah's Book Club and part of it stems from, if not outright racism and misogyny, than the racist and misogynist assumptions that Morrison is popular only because she is a nonwhite woman, liberal guilt etc. The latter is false: Toni Morrison has won the Pulitzer and the Nobel because she is an excellent author.

N.B. - Before I get jumped on by total strangers for making assumptions about Morrison's detractors, these are actual comments about her books, from Amazon.com:

"Toni Morrison is the most overrated author in America, it's only because of Oprah (the most overrated "personality" in America") that she is popular."

"You know, I know blacks have had a hard time in this world...I'm not naive...but there's a right and wrong way to tell us about your problems. This book is an example of the wrong way. To me it came off as preachy and heavy-handed."

"Once again, Toni Morrison puts an assortment of diatribes and racial angst into book form and masquerades it as literature with a moral message."

"What is actually between the covers of the book is 150 pages of the gross aspects of sex and femine hygene. That is not what makes brillant writing."

"The Bluest Eye does not celebrate the beauty of the black individual but instead simply and grotesquely trashes white characteristics (i.e. blonde-straight hair/blue eyes.) So if a little blonde-haired blue-eyed girl reads this book is she supposed to feel ashamed to have these characteristics?"

"I think it's terrible that Oprah Winfrey would recommend a book as anti-white as this. It's not as bad as some "black" literature that blames everything on white people, but it's close."

It's foolish to assume that the thoughts and experiences of women and of nonwhite American citizens is not worthy of writing about, and reviewers that slam the book as "anti-white" completely miss the point of themes of cultural hegemony, internalized hatred, taboos in beauty and sexuality, oppression, etc. And it's just darned lazy to discount this book's beautiful use of multiple narratives and excellent turns of phrase.

Morrison's literature often makes me angry and depressed, but not as angry and depressed as some of the reviews it gets. ...more
5

February 27, 2016

A valuable lesson learned from Toni Morrison and Starbucks
One day, i was working on contract in Northern CA, many years ago. I was walking into a Starbucks to have my Saturday morning tea before heading over to the gym. I am athletically built, but will not "flaunt" my physique in public. Thus, i always wore over-sized sweats which were comfortable.

A tall skinny black guy was heading toward the same Starbucks door on foot, like myself. He looked at me. He had with him his prize possession. A half-dressed, skinny asian female with him. She was cylindrically built, flat chested, no butt - but half naked. A far cry from the physique of a professional athlete. But they didn't see that. All they both saw was a black chick - probably overweight- in baggy sweats. *ugh*.

Upon seeing me, his lips pressed into a thin line, his eyes went flat with absolute hatred. I've seen that look my whole life from young black men. Then suddenly, he grinned. He knew we were going into the same Starbucks, so he grabbed his lady-friend's hand and started walking quickly. So quickly that he opened the door for her, then swiftly turned around, smiled in my face - and SLAMMED THE DOOR before i could grab the handle.

Everyone in Starbucks saw this action. I held my head up, walked into that Starbucks and stood in line right beside that couple. He gave me a belligerent stare wondering if i was going to do something to his "property". Though i was furious? I did not show it. Though i was ashamed. I did not show it. I ordered my tea when it was time, sat down and drank it. People were still staring even after that couple left. No one knew what to say. Regardless i did not sink that child's level. I held my head high, and sipped my tea.

This bought back so many humiliations in the past of how black people treat each other. I saw it within my family, school, my jobs, everywhere.

And believe it or not, i once wished for blue or green eyes as well. Anything but my liquid deep brown, big, round eyes. Having blue eyes would have stunned so many that i thought were my enemies into silence. I would have been treated better by not only my own counter-parts - but by white people as well.

Actually, that turned out not to be the case. Blue eyes don't mean anything if you don't love yourself. Just like that black guy who had attained what he considers a "prize" asian female. If you hate everything about yourself, nothing is going to change that. He was projecting everything he hated about himself - onto me. If it wasn't me? It would have been someone else of his culture.

Toni Morrison shows us, in this novel what the consequences are, if we seek "physical attributes/objects" to overpower the mental insufficiencies. I, and so many others could have gone the route of Pecola. In Toni Morrison's novel. A very valuable lesson is taught. Regardless of how blue your eyes are, if you're insecure? They will never be blue enough.
4

Jan 18, 2009

well, i'm experiencing severe bookface fatigue and wasn't gonna report on this until i read this cool-as-shit bookster's review:

http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/36813

she checked out the reviews on amazon for the bluest eye and listed some excerpts:


"Toni Morrison is the most overrated author in America, it's only because of Oprah (the most overrated "personality" in America") that she is popular."

"You know, I know blacks have had a hard time in this world...I'm not naive...but there's a right well, i'm experiencing severe bookface fatigue and wasn't gonna report on this until i read this cool-as-shit bookster's review:

http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/36813

she checked out the reviews on amazon for the bluest eye and listed some excerpts:


"Toni Morrison is the most overrated author in America, it's only because of Oprah (the most overrated "personality" in America") that she is popular."

"You know, I know blacks have had a hard time in this world...I'm not naive...but there's a right and wrong way to tell us about your problems. This book is an example of the wrong way. To me it came off as preachy and heavy-handed."

"Once again, Toni Morrison puts an assortment of diatribes and racial angst into book form and masquerades it as literature with a moral message."

"What is actually between the covers of the book is 150 pages of the gross aspects of sex and femine hygene. That is not what makes brillant writing."

"The Bluest Eye does not celebrate the beauty of the black individual but instead simply and grotesquely trashes white characteristics (i.e. blonde-straight hair/blue eyes.) So if a little blonde-haired blue-eyed girl reads this book is she supposed to feel ashamed to have these characteristics?"

"I think it's terrible that Oprah Winfrey would recommend a book as anti-white as this. It's not as bad as some "black" literature that blames everything on white people, but it's close."


people are dicks. yeah, not too controversial. genocide and war and rape and stalin and the crusades and inquisition and blah fucking blah. yeah, i know. we also have amnesty international and the sistine chapel and mexican food and rosario dawson. but you read the above and kinda wish that the fear and war-mongerers are right and that iran would just nuke out the whole planet.

ahem... anyway. i'm not here to answer the jackass prickfucks who find the bluest eye to be racist or 'anti-white' or a 'masquerade'... they're just idiots. it's this whole oprah thing. i mean... these are the same kinds of fools who get very smug and happy attacking the literary canon while sucking off equally canonized 'outsiders' such as hunter thompson, thomas pynchon, DFW, etc... (writers i enjoy but have no illusion that they're any more the outsider than is john updike) -- in other words: people who feel it's any different to deliberately swim against the stream as it is to swim with it.

so. all you haters of oprah's bookclub. a favor. please. just SHUT UP ALREADY. or is it just so irritating that oprah put leo tolstoy on the nytimes best seller list? and faulkner? and garcia marquez? yeah, that's some evil shit. i mean, getting hockey moms to read the road rather than some shit with fabio on the cover (sorry hockey moms) has gotta be up there with the alien and sedition act in terms of evils perpetrated on the good citizens of this country.
...more
5

Jul 16, 2016

Toni Morrison is one of my favorite authors. I discovered her writing with Beloved for which have a copy signed by her at a reading in Brooklyn of Jazz decades ago. In The Bluest Eye, she looks at the intersection of racism, self-hatred, poverty, and sexuality with realism and her beautifully descriptive writing style.

"By the time winter had stiffened itself into a hateful knot that nothing could loosen, something did loosen it, or rather someone. A someone who splintered the knot into silver Toni Morrison is one of my favorite authors. I discovered her writing with Beloved for which have a copy signed by her at a reading in Brooklyn of Jazz decades ago. In The Bluest Eye, she looks at the intersection of racism, self-hatred, poverty, and sexuality with realism and her beautifully descriptive writing style.

"By the time winter had stiffened itself into a hateful knot that nothing could loosen, something did loosen it, or rather someone. A someone who splintered the knot into silver threads that tangled us, netted us, made us long for the dull chafe of the precious boredom."

It should probably be considered post-modern in the sense that the narration moves from character to character and it is up to the reader to intuit the speaker and the time at which the action is happening.

True love as represented by the blue eyes and blond hair seen in the movies frequented by Frieda and Claudia as well as Pauline and most of all, Pecola, is as inaccessible as their parents' understanding leading them to either steel themselves against feeling like their mothers have or go insane:

Pauline: "It would be for her the well-spring from which she would draw the most destructive emotions, deceiving the lover and seeking to imprison the beloved, curtailing freedom in every way."

As Wright and Ellison had described as well, life in the North was not a safehaven free from racism. Cholly was just as invisible in Ohio as he would have been in Mobile. The White ticket counter is still forbidden him when he buys his ticket to see his father. His Aunt and the women that raised him "ran the house of white people, and knew it. When white men beat their men, they cleaned up the blood and went home to receive abuse from the victim."

The cycle of violence feeds on itself leading to tragic consequences for each of the characters.
In today's amerikkka of immigration quotas, race-baiting, and continued white police-on-black violence, The Bluest Eye still remains as relevant today as when Toni Morrison published it in 1970 - 23 years before 1993, the year she was justly awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. It really is a must read. ...more
5

May 11, 2012

"Being a minority in both caste and class, we moved about anyway on the hem of life, struggling to consolidate our weaknesses and hang on, or to creep singly up into the major folds of the garment. Our peripheral existence, however, was something we had learned to deal with--probably because it was abstract."- Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

I'm rereading Morrison's books in chronological order in 2016 and I created a private group here on Goodreads for a few of us who are interested in doing the "Being a minority in both caste and class, we moved about anyway on the hem of life, struggling to consolidate our weaknesses and hang on, or to creep singly up into the major folds of the garment. Our peripheral existence, however, was something we had learned to deal with--probably because it was abstract."- Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

I'm rereading Morrison's books in chronological order in 2016 and I created a private group here on Goodreads for a few of us who are interested in doing the same thing. Discussing this book with others has been very interesting because we all have different perspectives and can share them, expanding our own understanding of the book, it's been a great experience.

It's been four years since I first read The Bluest Eye and I was extremely touched and saddened by it the first time around. I count it as one of my favourite Morrison books and I'm glad to say that after a reread it's still very much so. I'm trying hard to find the words to describe how I feel about this book and it's still hard because it's a gut-wrenching book which I love, though "love" sounds like the wrong word for it: how can I love a book that is filled with so much pain, sadness and grief? This book condenses so much tragedy, despair and sadness in a relatively small space. What do you focus on? It can get a bit overwhelming. Morrison's advice seems to be: "There is really nothing more to say--except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how."

Whenever I discuss this book with people I know, Pecola is often the first name that comes up. Pecola, the poor, unloved child who prayed for blue eyes. It was hard not to draw comparisons between her and Celie (The Colour Purple), another abused black girl who was called ugly by all those around her. And I think of all the little black girls I've known who hated being black, who hated their hair, their noses, their eye colour, who prayed for "good hair", lighter skin complexion etc.

Morrison shows the vulnerability of children so well, and the consequences of parents not telling them what they need to know in enough detail, which results in them being forced to draw conclusions on their own. What they aren't told, they glean from observations and discussions with each other. Sometimes the truth isn't known until they are older:

"My mother's anger humiliates me; her words chafe my cheeks, and I am crying. I do not know that she is not angry at me, but at my sickness."

There are so many parts of the book that show children as voiceless, black children in particular. There's the issue of representation and how the white dolls our parents thought we wanted probably did more harm than good. I think this is an important book in revealing the other America.

My book had an afterword by Morrison which I'm so glad I read. I had no idea that this book was inspired by a conversation she'd had with an elementary school friend who prayed for blue eyes. It's conversations like this that never leave you, it seems, but it might take you until you are an adult to understand the true meaning of what those words held and what they say about our society. Like Malcolm X asked, "Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet?"

"And twenty years later I was still wondering about how one learns that. Who told her? Who made her feel that it was better to be a freak than what she was? Who had looked at her and found her so wanting, so small a weight on the beauty scale?...I focused, therefore, on how something as grotesque as the demonization of an entire race could take root inside the most delicate member of society: a child; the most vulnerable member: a female."- Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye afterword ...more
5

Jun 21, 2008

When we finished this book, about half the class--- including me--- were infuriated at Morrison for humanizing certain characters that caused Pecola to suffer the most. "Is she saying what they did was okay?! Is she telling us they weren't to blame and we should feel sorry for them?!" I remember writing my "objective" and "tone-neutral" in-class essay while trying to stifle my own feelings of resentment.

I know now that the answers to those two questions were no and no. What Morrison wanted us When we finished this book, about half the class--- including me--- were infuriated at Morrison for humanizing certain characters that caused Pecola to suffer the most. "Is she saying what they did was okay?! Is she telling us they weren't to blame and we should feel sorry for them?!" I remember writing my "objective" and "tone-neutral" in-class essay while trying to stifle my own feelings of resentment.

I know now that the answers to those two questions were no and no. What Morrison wanted us to do was not pardon the terrible acts of her characters, or brush them off as "simply tragedy" but to understand where these characters came from psychologically, and what made them the the way they are. People are driven by motivations, sometimes selfless, sometimes self-serving, and sometimes cruel. When I think about this now, I'm absolutely floored. I don't think any work of fiction has ever taught me this huge a lesson about human nature than this one.

Morrison is a brilliant writer and this will probably always be one of my favorite novels. ...more
5

March 29, 2017

TW; CSA
This book is really difficult to read if you're sensitive to themes of child sexual abuse, general child abuse, racism, and some animal abuse. Honestly, if you've been abused I wouldn't recommend it unless you have to read it for a class because it takes the perspective of the rapist during the rape scene which was really difficult for me to read personally.
HOWEVER, if you haven't experienced abuse, this is a really important book. It gives you an important and vastly underrepresented perspective on the ways systems built on racism and neglect fail children of color and allow for horrific things to happen to them, and the narration of the book is actually beautiful and very compelling. It is hard to read, it is difficult subject material, but push through it. It's a good and worthwhile book.
4

Apr 16, 2019

4.5/5

“Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another--physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion.”
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye



I have several reading goals for 2019 ~~ get some big books off my Want to Read list, explore more Asian writing, and visit authors I have missed along my reading journey. One of the most glaring omissions on this list was Toni 4.5/5

“Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another--physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion.”
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye



I have several reading goals for 2019 ~~ get some big books off my Want to Read list, explore more Asian writing, and visit authors I have missed along my reading journey. One of the most glaring omissions on this list was Toni Morrison. So, with the advice of my friend, Rowena, I selected THE BLUEST EYE to right that wrong. I am wowed by Morrison's writing talents. I wish I'd have ventured to her world sooner.

THE BLUEST EYE may well be the saddest book I have ever read. Upon finishing this novel I felt like I'd been sucker punched. The events that took place in this world were devastating. Morrisson's novel is as far from the childhood world Ray Bradbury created in Dandelion Wine as imaginable. Both took place in the Midwest in the late 20's / early 30's, and focus on childhood. This, is where the similarities end.

As painful as this book is to read at times, it is a beautifully written novel. Morrison is a poet at heart.



The story is told by a minor character, Claudia, a young girl and friend of Pecola’s; her innocence offers a rawness to the story that would have been lost if narrated by Pecola or an older character. Morrison brilliantly uses the passing of the seasons to tell this story. Each season take place in a different time period and follows a different character in her or his life; we learn the back stories of Pecola's people through this. In the final pages of this book, we see how all these people make up parts of Pecola’s story.

Morrison writes of race better than any other writer I can think of. She touches not on race in general, but writes about various themes regarding race here, the central theme being that Pecola’s desire for blue eyes is showing the social context that views blue eyes, which in this case is the epitome of whiteness, as the standard of beauty. Every girl black or white should strive to be like Shirley Temple.

Morrison also deftly writes on parenting and family dynamics. When Claudia faces an unwanted event in her home, her parents act swiftly to protect their daughter. When a far more tragic event happens to Pecola, her mother beats and blames her.

The main theme of THE BLUEST EYE is not simply racism, but internalized racism. The main characters in Morrison's novel have been conditioned to believe in their own inferiority. No one suffers this more than Pecola. Even members of her own race put her down for being ugly and for the darkness of her skin.

In the end, Morrison forces us to walk in Pecola's shoes and learn of the painful world she inhabits, and she does so brilliantly.

...more
5

Mar 01, 2017

...his mother did not like him to play with niggers. She had explained to him the difference between colored people and niggers. They were easily identifiable. Colored people were neat and quiet; niggers were dirty and loud...The line between colored and nigger was not always clear; subtle and telltale signs threatened to erode it, and the watch had to be constant.

While I was not the biggest fan of Morrison's style in this novel, I did fully appreciate the dagger-sharp insight that she brought ...his mother did not like him to play with niggers. She had explained to him the difference between colored people and niggers. They were easily identifiable. Colored people were neat and quiet; niggers were dirty and loud...The line between colored and nigger was not always clear; subtle and telltale signs threatened to erode it, and the watch had to be constant.

While I was not the biggest fan of Morrison's style in this novel, I did fully appreciate the dagger-sharp insight that she brought to the color caste system that is so prevalent in African-American culture, even today. Her dialogue rang so true, I could hear it coming directly out of my mother's mouth, my grandmother's mouth, and those of all of the women who've ever filled our kitchens with raucous communal fun and glum communal tragedy alike. Her use of the Dick & Jane children's books, used for decades to teach children to read (SEEMOTHERMOTHERISVERYNICEMOTHERWILLYOUPLAYWITHJANEMOTHERLAUGHSLAUGHMOTHERLAUGHLA) created a chilling, ironic and staggering contrast between the lives of the whites and those of the blacks in this novel. Shirley Temple, Mary Jane candies, and Jean Harlow hairstyles - you'll find the delicacy of all of them here, both in these characters' reality and in metaphor. While the truth and injustices here were often sobering to read, they were filled with too much truth to rightfully deny or turn away from.

I could spend hours discussing this novel. I could quote from it all day, but I won't do that, because the entire read was poignant and so crisply aware of the color line - the how and the why - that there is no one point that can overshadow another in the message that these words aimed to send. This novel is older than I am, and yet it still rings with such verity, with such biting truth and reality. With The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison cut open the existence of both internalized and externalized racism in America and laid it bare and exposed at our feet. For that, she deserves nothing but reverence and applause, so she will always have that from me.

Anyone who's ever been in doubt of a color line in Black America should read this book. Anyone who's ever questioned, "But why can't I say those words when you say them all the time? But why do you still believe that racism exists? Why can't you just get over it - the past is the past?" should read this book. In fact, just read this book anyway - how about that? :) ***** ...more
1

Jun 19, 2018

I’ve read a lot of fucked things in literature, though it is extremely rare that I read something so messed up that it makes me hate the book.

It takes a lot to put me off. I read Lolita without any complaints about the paedophilia because sometimes it is necessary to show despicable things in order to create art. I’ve read stage pieces by Sarah Kane which involve genital mutilation and all sorts of brutal sex acts, but, again, it was necessary for the piece. Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus I’ve read a lot of fucked things in literature, though it is extremely rare that I read something so messed up that it makes me hate the book.

It takes a lot to put me off. I read Lolita without any complaints about the paedophilia because sometimes it is necessary to show despicable things in order to create art. I’ve read stage pieces by Sarah Kane which involve genital mutilation and all sorts of brutal sex acts, but, again, it was necessary for the piece. Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus centres on a very brutal rape, that much so that people fainted when it was performed (and that was in 2014 at Shakespeare’s Globe in London), though it was needed for the nature of the revenge plot.

However, sometimes the brutality can be a little too much. This book contains an explicit child rape scene and vivid animal cruelty. Granted, you could make the same argument to defend The Bluest Eye as I did for the texts I mentioned above though, for me, it was just too awful to read. The scenes held absolutely nothing back. I am not a person easily shocked or put off by such things, though it was too much even for me.

The Republic of Wine is the only other book to make me feel this unnerved (because of baby cannibalism.) It made me want to vomit as the writing here did.

The Bluest Eye was way too much for me. It was overly symbolic, melodramatically brutal and displayed no hope or optimism. I did not enjoy a single page. ...more
4

Aug 30, 2013

I saw this tweet a couple of weeks ago: "Going through life white, male, middle-class and American is like playing a video game on easy mode." For those of us born into this: how many chances do we get to fuck things up and still come out just fine? An almost infinite amount, apparently.

Toni Morrison wants those of us born with that winning life-lotto combo ticket to experience the opposite of that life track in a world that encompasses, in her words, "the far more tragic and disabling I saw this tweet a couple of weeks ago: "Going through life white, male, middle-class and American is like playing a video game on easy mode." For those of us born into this: how many chances do we get to fuck things up and still come out just fine? An almost infinite amount, apparently.

Toni Morrison wants those of us born with that winning life-lotto combo ticket to experience the opposite of that life track in a world that encompasses, in her words, "the far more tragic and disabling consequences of accepting rejection as legitimate, as self-evident." Where life begins in pain, in rejection, in constant on-going humiliation and self-loathing. The ego doesn't ever have a chance. The Bluest Eye provides a window into this world - a viewpoint so that a Reader can see it for all of its ugliness and marvel at those, like Morrison, that overcome this environment and become a thing of beauty.

If you are white male upper-middle class American - a state senator from Alabama with power and a national audience, why would you want to call for the banning of this book, one you have certainly never read? It's fear. This work that Morrison has created: a story of darkness, of hopelessness and of a reality that a white male middle-class American could never come close to understanding is a thing of beauty; the lily that grows in the mound of shit. It speaks truth, it kills the demons by just naming them and it reminds the Reader that for some the miracle of living can be a living nightmare.

Mr. Holtzclaw wants a world where we won't be told of these realities.

I don't want to live in that world. ...more
5

Aug 23, 2010

I wonder who the Mexican Toni Morrison is. Her work is very hard to peg down. It remains a wondrous feat to analyze or define. Alas, rest in peace...

A definitive stylist, a poet, Morrison is brilliant. There is one scene deeply ingrained somewhere in the schism that is this beautiful book which will stay with me forever. It involves the main character, a little impressionable girl of color-- & it is through her deep, deplorable suffering that we witness the apathy of mankind. This is not I wonder who the Mexican Toni Morrison is. Her work is very hard to peg down. It remains a wondrous feat to analyze or define. Alas, rest in peace...

A definitive stylist, a poet, Morrison is brilliant. There is one scene deeply ingrained somewhere in the schism that is this beautiful book which will stay with me forever. It involves the main character, a little impressionable girl of color-- & it is through her deep, deplorable suffering that we witness the apathy of mankind. This is not just a tale of whites versus blacks. Here, African Americans condemn themselves, as people turn against their own, & in portraits as striking as this one the effect feels like dynamite. ...more
5

Jul 17, 2017

Here is the little black girl. She has dreams and a fertile imagination. She is a potential conduit for excellence in the world. But she is the inheritor of pathological trauma that is centuries old. She is born to parents who are too busy licking their wounds and tending to their own pain to extend anything resembling love in her direction. So she believes she is unlovable, and is subsequently rendered invisible and therefore a perfect target to absorb the abuses of a society of self-hating, Here is the little black girl. She has dreams and a fertile imagination. She is a potential conduit for excellence in the world. But she is the inheritor of pathological trauma that is centuries old. She is born to parents who are too busy licking their wounds and tending to their own pain to extend anything resembling love in her direction. So she believes she is unlovable, and is subsequently rendered invisible and therefore a perfect target to absorb the abuses of a society of self-hating, oppressed people who need to pour their sorrows into the vessel with the most cracks: the innocent (in their eyes, contemptible) black girl. Never realizing that people who don't love themselves can never love anybody else. So her cracks multiply and she breaks apart and spills over and she gets blamed for not being pristine by the very people who broke her.

"This soil is bad for certain kinds of flowers. Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruit it will not bear, and when the land kills of its own volition, we acquiesce and say the victim had no right to live. We are wrong, of course, but it doesn't matter. It's too late." ...more
5

Feb 17, 2019

tw: domestic abuse, animal abuse & death, incest, pedophilia, rape

wow. this is the first book i've read by morrison and i 100% anticipate i'll read more because every other line is so hard hitting and gorgeously phrased with innovative and genius descriptions, as well as insightful and tragic commentary on why the characters feel and act the way they do. this book's discussion of beauty standards and anger and racism were so relevant and well-articulated. it hit right in the sweet spot of tw: domestic abuse, animal abuse & death, incest, pedophilia, rape

wow. this is the first book i've read by morrison and i 100% anticipate i'll read more because every other line is so hard hitting and gorgeously phrased with innovative and genius descriptions, as well as insightful and tragic commentary on why the characters feel and act the way they do. this book's discussion of beauty standards and anger and racism were so relevant and well-articulated. it hit right in the sweet spot of not being too subtle but also not being preachy; i adored the unfolding of this book's message. the multiple POVs and the way this book's narrative was almost told as a satellite around pecola made for a very well-rounded story that went into far deeper discussion than i was anticipating about family and the way toxicity and self-loathing are inherited and then expounded by society. i highly, highly, highly recommend this! ...more
4

Sep 08, 2012

365. The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye is a novel written by Toni Morrison in 1970. Morrison, a single mother of two sons, wrote the novel while she taught at Howard University. The novel is set in 1941 and centers around the life of a young African-American girl named Pecola who grows up during the years following the Great Depression in Lorain, Ohio. Due to Pecola's harsh characteristics and dark skin, she is consistently regarded as "ugly". As a result, she develops an inferiority 365. The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye is a novel written by Toni Morrison in 1970. Morrison, a single mother of two sons, wrote the novel while she taught at Howard University. The novel is set in 1941 and centers around the life of a young African-American girl named Pecola who grows up during the years following the Great Depression in Lorain, Ohio. Due to Pecola's harsh characteristics and dark skin, she is consistently regarded as "ugly". As a result, she develops an inferiority complex, which fuels her desire for the blue eyes she equates with "whiteness". The point of view of the novel switches between the perspective of Claudia MacTeer, the daughter of Pecola's foster parents, and a third-person narrator with inset narratives in the first person. Due to controversial topics in the book including racism, incest, and child molestation, there have been numerous attempts to ban it from schools and libraries.
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز هشتم ماه سپتامبر سال 2008 میلادی
عنوان: آبی ترين چشم؛ نویسنده: تونی موریسون؛ مترجم: نیلوفر شیدمهر؛ علی آذرنگ (جباری)؛ تهران، دریچه، 1385؛ در 264 ص؛ شابک: 9648072043؛ موضوع: داستانهای سیاهان - ایالات متحده - سده 20 م
عنوان: آبی ترين چشم؛ نویسنده: تونی موریسون؛ مترجم: کیومرث پارسای؛ تهران، نشر علم، 1385؛ در 310 ص؛ شابک: 96484056205؛ موضوع: داستانهای سیاهان - ایالات متحده - سده 20 م
هشدار برای آنها که کتاب را هنوز نخوانده اند، اگر میخواهید کتاب را بخوانید لطفا سطرهای پایانی این نوشتار را نخوانید ...: راوی داستان، دخترکی با صداقت، و صمیمیت کودکان نابالغ است. زندگی خانواده‌ ی: «بریدلاو». شخصیت محوری اصلی اثر: «پکولا بریدلاو»، از همین خانواده ‌ی محروم و آواره سر درمیآورد. پکولا بریدلاو، دختری ست که به تازگی دوران بلوغ را تجربه کرده، او در خانواده ‌ای با نگرش‌ها، رفتارها، و کردارهای پر از تضاد، چشم به جهان گشوده، که اعضای آن تنها در هم‌نژاد بودن و هم‌خانواده بودن اشتراک دارند. اعضای خانواده، ستمی دوگانه ـ از سوی نژاد برتر و پدر خانواده ـ را بردوش خود همواره احساس می‌کنند؛ و این ستم را بیش از همه پیکر نحیف و بی‌گناه «پکولا»، دختر نوجوان بی‌دفاع، تحمل میکند. پدر، یک‌بار خانه را آتش میزند و افراد خانواده را آواره و بیخانمان میکند؛ یک‌بار نیز، دنیایی از درد و رنج را بر سر دختر بیچاره خویش آوار میکند. دختر با آرزویی بزرگ در دل: اینکه چشمانی آبی، هم‌چون دخترکان سفیدپوست داشته باشد، زنده میماند. او آبیترین چشمان دنیا را میخواهد. ا. شربیانی ...more
5

January 30, 2017

A must read
This is a MUST read. This book is dark and powerful, poetic and real. All at once feeling like you want to run into the main character's vulnerable pain but wanting to look away at the same time. Morrison's command of writing is perfection. Absolute perfection. The forward is also very helpful to read to give context to when she wrote it, her approach and what she may have wanted to change. Wonderful to read an artist's self-reflection. If you're a white woman looking to learn more about black women and men's experiences of internalized and institutionalized racism and dismantle your privilege, this book is for you. Be prepared to cry and think hard.
5

June 22, 2017

A Great American Novel
I recently reread this book. I had read it several years before. I was amazed at how much I had forgotten. Practically all of it. I want to make this review about the book and not about me, but I kept asking myself over and over how I could not have remembered this brilliant novel. I'm a middle-aged white man, so maybe it wasn't relevant enough to me or my lifestyle. Or; maybe my brain rejected the disturbing elements, which our sometimes nine-year-old chronicler Claudia MacTeer treats like they are just a normal part of life. I was much younger the first time I read this book, and since that time, having some close friends who are African-American relate to me over a beer some of their stories, I want to know. I want to know how this oppression of the soul still exists to this very day. How can the average white person even begin to understand events like Ferguson? Sadly, not very many try to. Books like this one, Richard Wright's "Native Son", Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man" and so much other great literature of this genre are must reads, in my opinion, for every American. Pecola Breedlove's desire to have blue eyes like the little blonde-haired girl at the house her mother is employed as housekeeper, is heartbreaking on so many levels, especially after her own personal tragedy.
4

May 21, 2019

When I read a history of American literature recently I made a note of the great authors I still hadn’t read yet and here are the ones I listed

Richard Wright
Ralph Ellison
Toni Morrison
Maya Angelou
Alice Walker

Wait a moment, these writers are all African American! What’s going on here? Is this a case of #mybookshelvestoowhite? Even the solitary James Baldwin novel I read was Giovanni’s Room- it happens to be all about European white people.

Well, I think what happened is that I think I thought I When I read a history of American literature recently I made a note of the great authors I still hadn’t read yet and here are the ones I listed

Richard Wright
Ralph Ellison
Toni Morrison
Maya Angelou
Alice Walker

Wait a moment, these writers are all African American! What’s going on here? Is this a case of #mybookshelvestoowhite? Even the solitary James Baldwin novel I read was Giovanni’s Room- it happens to be all about European white people.

Well, I think what happened is that I think I thought I already had been exposed to so many fictional representations of black America, from movies and tv - the great films of the late John Singleton, the Hughes Brothers and Spike Lee, plus brilliant tv series Homicide and The Wire and documentaries like 13th and Ken Burns’ documentary Jazz, which neatly brings me to music – no one needs to be told how the popular music of the last 100 years has been propelled forward by the engine of black creativity. So I guess I thought I didn’t need to read these books too. So I thought that might be a little bit lazy, a little bit complacent, and decided to start fixing that with Toni Morrison.

It was a good start. This is a tough minded short novel. It contains several scenes of nasty sex including rape. It’s all about black self-loathing, internalized racism, so that’s why right at the beginning there is a grisly excerpt from a book for little white kids all about the lovely things they might encounter :

See Jane. She has a red dress. She wants to play. Who will play with Jane? See the cat. It goes meow-meow. See Father. He is big and strong. Father, will you play with Jane?

And so on. So, you know, The Bluest Eye is not a happy story. Some will say -another tale of African American woe. And it is, it is. But there was one line which cracked me up. A spiritualist healer type named Soaphead Church gets a visit from a little black girl who asks him to change her eyes from brown to blue. Because blue is beautiful and brown is ugly. He gets mad and sits down to write a formal letter to God. This is how he starts :

Dear God

The purpose of this letter is to familiarize you with facts which either have escaped your notice, or which you have chosen to ignore.

How often I have mentally composed such a letter myself! But never found an appropriate postbox.

SOME THINGS DON’T CHANGE MUCH

This healer guy Soaphead Church has his own printed cards. They say :

If you are overcome with trouble and conditions that are not natural, I can remove them; overcome Spells, Bad Luck, and Evil Influences. Remember, I am a true Spiritualist and a Psychic Reader, born with power, and I will help you. Satisfaction in one visit. … Has the one you love changed? I can tell you why. I will tell you who your enemies and friends are, and if the one you love is true or false. If you are sick, I can show you the way to health. I locate lost and stolen articles. Satisfaction guaranteed.

So that is what they were doing in 1929 in a small town in Ohio. Fast forward to 2018 and hop across the Atlantic – here is a card that was put through my letterbox here in Nottingham, England a year ago :


SH Abdul Rehman

THE MOST RIGHTEOUS TRUTHFUL AFRICAN

I can help solve all your problems in your life. I can bring happiness in your life. I can remove black magic, Bad Luck from your life. . Sh Abdul Rehman can also advice you in all your problems which prove to be difficult, Business Difficulties, Love, Marriage or Relations Problems, or your Loved One has left you or Separated from you without giving any reason. I can help you to bring back happiness in your life. RESULT IS 100% GUARANTEED

Really, the only difference is that Sh Abdul has a mobile phone number. ...more
4

May 29, 2009

I just read this today, and the rating system really doesn't apply to my feelings, which are still fresh, on this book : "I like it" "I really liked it", etc. I have NO idea how to rate this book.

I didn't like the book. As the author herself states in the afterward, "...this is a terrible story about things one would rather not know anything about." But at the same time, the story is engrossing, I found the back stories interesting, and really fell in love with the three little girls. Though I just read this today, and the rating system really doesn't apply to my feelings, which are still fresh, on this book : "I like it" "I really liked it", etc. I have NO idea how to rate this book.

I didn't like the book. As the author herself states in the afterward, "...this is a terrible story about things one would rather not know anything about." But at the same time, the story is engrossing, I found the back stories interesting, and really fell in love with the three little girls. Though some of the varying voices that tell their stories don't flow as well in telling their story, the character development is really amazing. The point of view through innocence in the girls makes the horrors and injustices all the more...horrific and upsetting.

This book evoked strong emotions in me, which, according to the author, was the point. She did that job well. I feel a strong sense of loss, disgust, revoltion, sadness, and frustration at not knowing how to "fix" things.

So how do you rate that?

...more
5

Aug 08, 2010

Pecola. That's her name.

Her name bothered me the first time I read it. Pecola. How do you even pronounce it. It's...ugly. Slowly, but surely, I understood that was the point. Or at least a point among many wicked-but-important points in The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.

Pecola herself would never be pretty, would never be understood. No one would ever be able to shorten or lengthen her name into a cute nick. Her hair, her eyes, her countenance, her life, would never be considered more than an Pecola. That's her name.

Her name bothered me the first time I read it. Pecola. How do you even pronounce it. It's...ugly. Slowly, but surely, I understood that was the point. Or at least a point among many wicked-but-important points in The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.

Pecola herself would never be pretty, would never be understood. No one would ever be able to shorten or lengthen her name into a cute nick. Her hair, her eyes, her countenance, her life, would never be considered more than an insult, not only to herself, but to her people, too.

Pecola, trapped in poverty, was mercilessly teased by her peers, raped and impregnated by her father and judged by her elders. Eventually, Pecola went crazy and was last seen digging through the garbage by her old childhood "friend", one of the narrators of the novel.

The narrators acknowledge the superior tone of The Observer, a concept I had never considered. The listener/watcher/reader is a powerful person, so I will be more careful of what and how I share from now on. Or, maybe just less caring. That's it.

Pecola herself, never experiences self-superiority, which I believe is the first time I have ever noticed such a phenomena. Most characters, especially underdog protagonists, experience some sort of self-superiority (however deluded) at some point in their "character arc." Even when she is coerced/tricked into harming a cat and a dog in two separate but bizarre incidents of what I consider male-domination, she is neither elevated nor deflated by the moment. Instead, she is motivated by achieving superiority by getting blue eyes. That is interesting to me.

All of The Bluest Eye is interesting to me. The cruelty and evil that lurk inside the realm of survival and desire is explored beautifully and almost unbearably. Pecola's desire for having the bluest eyes in the world reminded me of some of my absurd goals and I am once again reminded to reassess my values.

That's not a bad thing to do once in awhile or, in my case, on a regular basis.


...more
4

Dec 11, 2013


“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Toni Morrison's debut novel is for me a fitting illustration of the truth behind the Hemingway quote above. A painful, uncomfortable, provocative, depressing story that is nevertheless more honest and real than most of the books I've read this year. In a foreword written two decades after first publication, the author expresses some misgivings about the structure of the novel and about how Pecola, the main
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Toni Morrison's debut novel is for me a fitting illustration of the truth behind the Hemingway quote above. A painful, uncomfortable, provocative, depressing story that is nevertheless more honest and real than most of the books I've read this year. In a foreword written two decades after first publication, the author expresses some misgivings about the structure of the novel and about how Pecola, the main character, may be lacking in relevance for larger issues of racial identity, her story too particular to lend itself well to generalities. For me, like in the case of Carson McCullers, these flaws in execution may be the very things that convinced me of the sincerity of the feelings described, and the idiom flavored prose more expressive and authentic than later, more polished books (I'm thinking of Home , the only Morrison book I've read before this one).

The main theme, that of self-esteem, identity and prejudice, is as relevant today as it was in 1941 (when the action is placed) or in 1965 (when the book was first published). Only last week I've read in the news about a shameful Fox News debacle on the colour of Father Christmas (and of Jesus) skin. Why can't we have a black Santa? Why would it be considered ugly? an abomination? The standards of beauty imposed by fashion magazines and MTV shows may be more inclusive today in terms of skin colour, but they remain as radical and as dangerous for children and teenagers who are not tall, skinny, 'blue eyed'. Don't even start me on Miley Cyrus as a role model ...

Back to Pecola Breedlove: a little black girl who wanted to rise up out of the pit of her blackness and see the world with blue eyes. . The whole world is telling her she is ugly, worthless, pityful, and Pecola is not strong enough to contradict it and to fight for herself. It is the artist role to be her advocate, to feel her pain, her despair, and to shout it out for all to hear : ... there are some who collapse, silently, anonimously, with no voice to express or acknowledge it. They are invisible. The death of self-esteem can occur quickly, easily in children, before their ego has 'legs', so to speak. Couple the vulnerability of youth with indifferent parents, dismissive adults, and a world, which, in its language, laws, and images, re-enforces despair, and the journey to destruction is sealed. says Morrison in the foreword. I have seen this credo of the artist as the burning, bleeding conscience of his/her generation before (Samuel R Delany comes to mind) but rarely with such intensity and clarity as in the case of Toni Morrison.

The story of Pecola reads more like a parable than a reportage, with the outcome made clear right from the start, extensive use of metaphoric language and a fatalistic inevitability that harks back to the Greek tragedies. Most of the novel is told through the eyes of Frieda and Claudia, two black girls growing up in Larain, Ohio in 1941, witnessing the drama unfolding in the Breedlove family, fighting spirits both but yet too young to be able to do anything about their friend. They plant some flower seeds in the barren earth of their neighborhood (marigolds as a symbol for love and understanding?), but their good intentions amount to nothing:

Our innocence and faith were no more productive than his lust or despair. What is clear now is that of all that hope, fear, lust, love, and grief, nothing remains but Pecola and the unyielding earth. Cholly Breedlove is dead; our innocence too. The seeds shriveled and died; her baby too.
There is really nothing more to say - except why. But since 'why' is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in 'how'.

The following account is non-linear, broken in pieces, jumping back and forth in the timeline and moving around to other locations, passed through from one character to another in an almost haphazard manner, yet coming round by the finish line to Pecole and the marigolds refusing to bloom. Many factors contribute to the little girl's downfall, yet the lion's share of blame should probably be placed firmly at her parents door: Pauline and Cholly Breedlove have a disfunctional relationship that hurts their children more than their own calloused and already defeated souls. Polly takes refuge in the fantasy world of cinema and believes her children should conform to the burgeois standards of the white class:

Into her son she beat a loud desire to run away, and into her daughter she beat a fear of growing up, fear of other people, fear of life.

Cholly is a drunkard who keeps everything inside, unable to express himself other than though violence, regularly beating his wife and terorizing the children. He pities his daughter, but the way he chooses to manifest his emotion is more than horrible. Another abuser is a certain Whitcomb, an Anglophile mullato con man and a pervert who poses as a priest and a dream interpreter. Pecola finds more understanding and kindness in the rooms of destitute whores living in the apartment above than in her own family. What is interesting about all the adults in the story is that behind all their despicable actions, they are not actually corrupted in their own eyes. Pauline was at one time happy in her house chores and even in her passion for Cholly. Cholly was once a free spirit, a fighter and a tender husband. Whitcomb believes he is doing a service to the community, even to the underage girls he fondles. They all find some way to rationalize their failures. The autor goes to great lengths to show their human frailty instead of condemning them outright, leaving the task of moral judgement on the shoulders of the reader: Have I looked down instinctively on someone on account of their race (Romanian Gypsies are quite horribly treated today both in Romania and in Europe)? Have I judged people hastily, without trying to walk some miles in their shoes? Maybe. Will I do it again, after reading this book? Probably: the feelings of euphoria and goodwill tend to evaporate in time under the pressure of mundane preoccupations. But I hope some kernel of truth will remain, and who knows, maybe some marigolds will bloom in my own garden.

My final quote is I believe an illustration of the fact that we do not need to be perfect, we need only to make an effort and to keep learning about the world and the people around us, no matter how old we are in years:

Love is never better than the lover. Wicked people love wickedly, violent people love violently, weak people love weakly, stupid people love stupidly, but the love of a free man is never safe. There is no gift for the beloved. The lover alone possesses his gift of love. The loved one is shorn, neutralized, frozen in the glare of the lover's inward eye.

Let us love wisely, for once!
Thank you, Mrs. Morrison for the remainder.
...more
4

Aug 30, 2013

4.5/5

I had my share of body hatred while growing up, but it would be foolish to believe that a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, skinny white girl has the same problems as those who diverge in any of the four descriptives. After all, we are talking a physicality that differs in very few respects from the type idealized by the Nationalist Socialist German Workers' Party, and in the land of the whites and the home of the bleach, that phenotype means power. Just last week, one of my professors commented on 4.5/5

I had my share of body hatred while growing up, but it would be foolish to believe that a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, skinny white girl has the same problems as those who diverge in any of the four descriptives. After all, we are talking a physicality that differs in very few respects from the type idealized by the Nationalist Socialist German Workers' Party, and in the land of the whites and the home of the bleach, that phenotype means power. Just last week, one of my professors commented on her constant well-dressed appearance with "I can't wash this off," scrubbing at her hand as synecdoche for how her African heritage had chosen to display itself. Sixty years ago that choice in clothing was just as politically charged, for to dress well and not be white was an open invitation to getting the living shit beaten out of you. As you can see, the white supremacy is a canny thing, always knowing how to change its skin.

Four to five hundred years or so ago, the science of race was invented to excuse the existence of slavery in the face of religious humanity and social equality. Since then, the country of the United States was invented, taught to children as a "cultural melting pot" that flenses them from schoolyard to mass media and back again. It is an easy process: bully any who diverge into a morass of self-hatred, let others who are of the flock accessorize with the dehumanized divergence, then commercialize until all that is left of a human heritage is white people consumption. Jazz, Hinduism, bindis, yoga, rap, sushi, greeted with raging disgust and vitriolic hatred unless, of course, you're white. Then by all means, consume away. There's no danger in your representation. Only oppression.

It would be allegory if the entire machinery of the US Government didn't single out the chosen sacrifices based on the color of skin and the inheritance of creed, but it does. It would have aged badly if cultural appropriation wasn't an imperialistic practice that takes the existence of others as the latest "fad" for a blonde-haired and blue-eyed persona, but it is. I'm talking dark-skinned girls bleaching their skin, I'm talking the violation of civilizations for the pursuit of a hobby, I'm talking a disconnect between an entire host of souls from their bodies that makes the incest in this book ugly and a white man raping his three-year-old daughter legally acceptable in the US as of 2014. Toni Morrison wrote this book while people were killing themselves to keep themselves aligned with "respectability politics" of white fashion; today, every white person wants dreadlocks. Shit on something long enough and it's yours for the commercial taking, so long, of course, you look a certain way.

If you dehumanize someone because they don't look like blonde-haired blue-eyed white-skinned skinny-assed me, you are utter, fucking, goddamn trash. It's as simple as that. ...more
5

Aug 08, 2013

“There can’t be anyone, I’m sure, who doesn’t know what it feels like to be disliked, even rejected. Momentarily or for sustained periods of time,” Toni Morrison stated in her author note, as she explained the context of this novel. Imagine a Nobel Laureate reading her work, and then explaining her art. I listened to this via Audible and I was spellbound. Inflections with each character switch and mood, exquisite dialogue performance—I might as well have been in the same room with her.

The bluest “There can’t be anyone, I’m sure, who doesn’t know what it feels like to be disliked, even rejected. Momentarily or for sustained periods of time,” Toni Morrison stated in her author note, as she explained the context of this novel. Imagine a Nobel Laureate reading her work, and then explaining her art. I listened to this via Audible and I was spellbound. Inflections with each character switch and mood, exquisite dialogue performance—I might as well have been in the same room with her.

The bluest eye. Oh what great use of personification. This story, laden with historical and literary context, is narrated by young Claudia and follows three black girls: Claudia, Frieda, and Pecola. Raised in small town Ohio following the Great Depression and during a time laced with blatant racism and segregation, let’s just say, the girls were the bearers of grown folks’ wrath.

Pecola’s parents are indifferent towards her. She must call her mom, Mrs. Breedlove, while the blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl her mother takes care of, calls her Polly. When Pecola sees the same mother who beats and yells at her oohing and aahing at the little girl, the blue eyes become her way of wanting to be acknowledged. Maybe if she had blue eyes… Later, the bluest eye will play a role after Pecola goes through a horrific ordeal and we get to hear from her directly.

Pauline Breedlove (Pecola’s mother) on the other hand, loves her job as a housekeeper because she gets to escape her life with the abusive husband, poverty, and invisibility. In her world, no one notices or acknowledges her: the black woman. Shopping for her family is a pain. But in her white employers’ world where she must purchase items and make decisions on their behalf, vendors respect her duty and title. At these moments within the story, Claudia’s first person narration veers to a third-person narrator once you start to get into the adults’ heads (like crazy Cholly’s, for example) and more mature issues are raised.

Toni Morrison started this story in 1962—working on it while getting her MA. In 1965, it started to take the shape of a book. In elementary school, she had a friend who told her that she wished she had blue eyes. Very blue eyes in a very dark skin? She was repelled by her friend’s desire. With the book she tried to “hit the raw nerve of racial self contempt, expose it, then soothe it.”

I’ve never run across an author who writes like Toni Morrison. While reading two of her works simultaneously this week, (I also read Paradise) I noticed her signature style. It’s the good kind of expectation, like buying a Coach purse knowing that there are certain things about it that will not let you down. The lyrical syntax is prolific, the narrator voice oblique, and the story structure will take leaps and bounds.

The second half of this book was my favorite. In the beginning, there is a certain voice that pierces the narrative throughout and I wondered what it was (the white house and Jane playing). Towards the end, I understood the art as I heard from Pecola (in a weird, artistic kind of way) and it was a deeply emotional moment. ...more
2

Apr 25, 2015

I feel so bad for not liking this book, because I know I'm in the minority, and because I know it deals with some very very important topics! I think it's important that books like these exist, because we need to remember that problems like these exist.
That being said, I strongly disliked the execution of this story. Nothing in this book inspires hope; it's 100% full of brutality, loss, heartbreak and lots of other heavy and heart-breaking topics, and to be honest, I felt like it was way too I feel so bad for not liking this book, because I know I'm in the minority, and because I know it deals with some very very important topics! I think it's important that books like these exist, because we need to remember that problems like these exist.
That being said, I strongly disliked the execution of this story. Nothing in this book inspires hope; it's 100% full of brutality, loss, heartbreak and lots of other heavy and heart-breaking topics, and to be honest, I felt like it was way too overdone. I almost couldn't breathe when reading this because it kept telling about disaster after disaster. I needed a little glimpse of hope somewhere, but I didn't get it.
This book is said to be very poetic, and I agree with that. However, once again I felt like it was done in an exaggerated manner. Almost every second sentence had a deeper meaning, and while it was beautiful to read in the beginning, it became too much in the end. Furthermore, Toni Morrison chose to mix together genres and perspectives, and I didn't feel a connection with any of the characters despite what they were going through.
I love beautiful prose and stories with serious topics, but I didn't like this one one bit. I had a very hard time getting through the mere 200 pages of "The Bluest Eye". The two stars are given because of the glimpses of beautiful prose and the ever-important topics that this book deals with, but all in all I can't say that this was a great reading experience. ...more

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