Saturday, 14 April 2012

M is for Paradise by Toni Morrison

At school, I tried to read Beloved. It wasn't part of the syllabus - I don't think - but it was in the library, and there was a waiting list. So I signed up for it too, because if this book was being read by so many, it must be really good. But I really couldn't get into it - I faltered by the second or third page. Which makes it all the more strange that I picked up Paradise at all!

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.

40 comments:

  1. I'm really enjoying these recommendations!

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  2. Nice to know Toni Morrison has been inspiration for you. I think we all have the authors we learn from.

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    1. I've got at least 20 ;-) Had to make up the other 6 with music and film.

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  3. I liked her "Beloved" the best.

    Look forward to the rest of your challenge run…can’t believe we’ve had 14 days already.Hope you’re enjoying the challenge so far!
    --Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2012

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    #atozchallenge

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    1. Maybe now I've read Paradise a few times I'll give Beloved another go.

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  4. That is a good way to learn. And they say each chapter SHOULD be a mini story. I've never read Beloved but the film was just horrible. I felt bad for Oprah on that one... but what was she thinking??

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    1. It works so well in Paradise. With all the fingers in all the pies Oprah has, you have to allow her a couple of false moves.

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  5. Oh, I like that chapter by chapter advice. I haven't read this book, but it sounds like a good read. :)

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  6. Great advice. Love the site. Your title is me: Wake up, write, sleep. The story of my life!

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    1. Thanks Holly, and thanks for the follow :-)

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  7. All said and done, I am impressed by the book cover :-)

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    1. It is great, isn't it? Thanks for dropping by.

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  8. I'm curious to read this now. I had the same experience with Beloved and never gave this one a try. Sounds excellent.

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    1. It's much easier than to get into than Beloved. Let me know if you read it.

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  9. I love it when a writer can take multiple story threads and weave a tight fabric from them. It's not easy to do that right...so many potential pitfalls await, like forcing characters into places and situations just to bring them together. To make it natural to the story is a rare gift!

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    1. At first, you just don't know how it'll all fit, and then it does, wonderfully.

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  10. I was first taken with Toni Morrison's writing in college when we read The Bluest Eye. I've had Paradise on my bookshelf (it may still be there), but I've not read it. I'm off to check if it's still around.

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    1. I was put off trying The Bluest Eye after my Beloved experience. So, is Paradise on your shelf?

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  11. I've actually never read anything by Toni Morrison...but now that you've mentioned the author, I might have to check it out; thanks!

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  12. It sounds like a great novel that has influenced you a bit (or at least added passion for writing to your life). And I would say "never say never" ;) re: your story. Perhaps you'll find the right time in life to go back to it.

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    1. I'm always toying with ways to alter my novel, but it definitely belongs on my shelf and no one else's :-)

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    1. Apparently lots of people haven't. When I started this subject I truly thought I'd be bringing nothing new to the table, because all the books are several years old, at least. How wrong was I!

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  14. Oh, that sounds like a good read. I really liked well done one-shots that are slowly revealed to be connected. *must add to growing to-read list*

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  15. I haven't read that either, but you make it sound so good. Don't be so hard on yourself - you may yet publish your book. Never give up.

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    1. My novel is on the ever-pending shelf. Paradise is a great novel :-)

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  16. It is wonderful to have authors to whom we can look for instruction.

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    1. There are so many good ones out there, too! It's far too easy to read instead of write :-)

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  17. trekking your blog!!! sounds interesting. maybe i check this out. :-)

    cheers!
    ..TREK..

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  18. This sounds like something I could read. Thanks Annalisa. I think if I keep reading your blog over the course of this challenge I am going to have a ridiculously long list!

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  19. It's nice that found a book that inspired your writing, especially one that fits in line with your writing structure. While I'm familiar with Toni Morrison, I don't think I've read any of her work including Paradise. Non-linear movies are sometimes less than fun for me to enjoy when watching them, so I think non-linear books might be a pain, lol.

    Cheers! :)

    ~Nicole
    Blog: The Madlab Post
    *Rockin' the A to Z Challenge! - My recent posts are K for Karma; L for Love; M for Matrimony*
    @MadlabPost on Twitter

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    1. She handles the plot so well, I wouldn't let my opinion sway you - it's been a while since I read it. I purposefully haven't re-read the books I've been writing about because I didn't want the posts to be reviews, I wanted them to be my feelings about the books - if that makes sense.

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  20. I think I read Beloved and one other book by Morrison, but I can't remember what that other book was, which is odd, because I seem to recall liking that one much better. Paradise sounds like something I might enjoy.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z

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    1. I'm forever borrowing books I really like from the library and then forgetting what they are!

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Please comment - I love a good chat!