|And over to Goodreads...|
Paradise is wonderfully written, and non-linear. I find my own prose drifts around, either with a certain amount of structure or with none at all. Toni Morrison has structure in abundance, and it's a joy to read. Each section of this novel is about a different woman, surging towards a common point in time. At first the reader has no idea how these women are connected, but all is revealed as the story progresses.
For me, it's these first few pages of each new chapter, when the women haven't been properly introduced that are the magical parts. The reader is taken into uncertain situations which are slowly revealed. Yes, some of these situations are terrible, such as a woman who's child has died - and the gradual dripping of information keeps you turning the page, needing to know more.
I was inspired by this mostly because the chapters were self-contained stories, and at the time I was struggling to write anything longer than 3000 words. By making chapters self-contained, I might make a novel. The novel I wrote - which will probably never be published - told the story of a woman over the course of twenty years. Each chapter moved the story on by a couple of years, watching the decline of this tragic woman. It'll never be published in its current form, because it's too darn depressing, but it was a great way to learn, and Toni Morrison is a great teacher.