Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Dreary Draggy Day

It's so gross outside. This morning was beautiful, mild, sunny. Now it's dark, rainy, and yucky. One would think, living in an area prone to sudden rain and tropical weather, that I would invest in an umbrella that cost more than $3.00. I swear, the thing is made out of lint strung together with toothpicks. Worthless.

I'm incredibly draggy today. The Daisy let me sleep just fine last night (SEVEN HOURS WITH NO CRATE PEEING), so I have positively no excuse for excessive fatigue. The sinus headache has other ideas, though. It's pounding away, thanks to what I can only call a barrage of distasteful allergy activity. I think it's the impending pine pollen epidemic. My nose knows.

In reading news, I finished my fourth book of this great month of February. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison, was a worthy pick for the Year of Reading Dangerously. There are millions of people who've read this before me (thanks, Oprah!), but I'll review it briefly anyway...just in case you're still looking for that final push to make you pick it up. I can't handle stringing paragraphs together in an orderly fashion, so you'll just have to subsist on snippets.

The good parts:

1. It's short. Yes, yes, I'm a sucker for a short novel. Especially when wits are on end and all. Weighing in at 216 pages (included the author's notes at the end), this one was a very quick read. Something I didn't think I'd get from Morrison.

2. The language is stunning. I read Beloved as a teen, which I think I've mentioned here. However, I don't count it as "read" since I didn't "get it" at all and probably skimmed more than half of it. SO, this is my first Morrison, and I was positively bowled over by the language. I would give you tasty quotes, but I turned in my copy to the college library on my way out yesterday to lighten the load in my tote bag.

3. It's chock full of great ideas. Morrison approaches this story of incest and abuse with an eye toward racial self-hatred, beauty ideals, and all that other literary stuff. It really is a jam-packed social statement. I won't go into it all, but if you want a book with an agenda that's nicely constructed, knock yourself out.

4. Which leads me to my very favorite part: the structure. The majority of the tale is passed along through the narration of two of Pecola Breedlove's childhood peers. I would say friends, but that's a little iffy. Two young girls who experience her situation from the outside, that is. And her experience, it's no mystery...she's carrying her father's baby. Now ya know. Other bits are told in flashback, from various perspectives, and the reader must piece the whole flingin'-flangin' mess together. It's worth it.

The bad, or at least iffy:

1. SHE'S CARRYING HER FATHER'S BABY! *sprays self with Lysol* This is one of those novels, like Lolita, that I'm tempted to say I enjoyed. But how weird is that? To "enjoy" a novel about rape, incest, all sorts of vile yuckiness. It's executed so prettily, though! I'll rephrase...I appreciated this novel and enjoyed the experience of reading it. There.

2. It affected me without moving me. That is, it wasn't powerful enough to evoke tears or a re-read, but it was darn good. I like to be moved. My favorite books move me. This one probably won't be a favorite, but I'm glad I read it, and I will pick up other Morrison offerings in the future.

There you have it! The Bluest Eye in a hurry. In the rain.

I'll be back later with new Daisy pics! With sunshine and dandelions and lots of nose-in-hole digging.


  1. Ugh! It's dreary down there too? It's been the pits here all day long!

    I just couldn't get into The Bluest Eye. I'm glad you could. Too much going on this month I guess. You know. I haven't read much at all...in fact I think I've only finished 2 books all month long. Depressing.

  2. I liked your review. I have trouble with Toni Morrison just because of the "ick" factor you pointed out. (Makes me feel cowardly.)It's pretty cool how you could be breezy and witty about such a downer book. Brava.

    Hope the sun shines for you soon.

  3. Glad you enjoyed the book. Yeah, its hard to say, "Oh I just loved this book! It was all about a father who impregnated his 11 year old daughter!"

    Good luck finding a good umbrella. I have the worst luck with them! They are always flipping inside out. Just when I need them too!

  4. We need more pictures of Diasy fast!

    I've been thinking if I should pick up Toni Morrison. My reading of American lit is a little deficient.

    Odd thing is, I have no problem with incest in literature. Oh well.

  5. You know, I am glad that you said that you were moved by the book. For the past few years, I have not heard someone from academia say that a book moved them. Occasionally I hear an academic say they read a book and it was interesting, or the author was doing some very different things with language, or it was a good book, but I don't hear how a book moved someone anymore. In fact, one time I did say that for once I want to read a book just cause and I was told that was what movies are for. So bully for you for saying that a book moved you.

  6. "Sula" is also a quick Morrison read and one I think you'd enjoy.

  7. Toni Morrison is the author whom I cringe at reading! The class I TA just finished Beloved and I learned quite a bit sitting in at their lecture myself!

    I do make plan to read The Bluest Eye. Now that you have revealed some of the key issues, it reminds me of the part in Inivisble Man where a man has got both his wife and daughter pregnant.

  8. Steppenwolf Theater did a beautiful production of The Bluest Eye recently. I think it went to New York afterwards--the script is really well done and manages to leave in a lot of the feel of the writing. it's worth checking out if you see that it is being produced somewhere near you.


  10. i just joined the tbr challenge, and i thought i'd check out your blog.

    my friend and i just started a book lovers message board, so i thought i'd invite you!!


  11. Oh yeah, it was very dreary. Although, I heard folks in Raleigh got some snow flurries yesterday!!!! Unfortunately we got nothin' out here in the sticks. I really want to see some damn snow before winter is over. And I can see how The Bluest Eye wouldn't be a great choice in the midst of stress. I think you'd like it at some other time. Morrison's writing style seems up your alley.

    LK, yeah, the ick factor was pretty high. And not just the incest either. There were lots of bowel movements and sundry bodily fluids. Ick! And I had to be breezy that day. The headache was killa! It takes much more concentration for me to write "serious" reviews.

    Kim, that's the problem with this umbrella. It flips if there's even a pitiful breeze blowing through. A stiff breeze practically kills the thing.

    LOL, Orpheus! Morrison is definitely a good place to start if you're underread in American lit. She's everyone's golden child it seems...although I prefer Philip Roth myself. Not sure why since his characters are often such asses to women. But the books are great!

    Fem, isn't that the truth?! And honestly, that's one reason why I chose not to do the PhD. So often I felt like we were in stark opposition to the author, while I myself have great respect for authors. I want to be on their side, not knocking them around with my theories. I still do, I suppose, as a reviewer, but I felt kinda icky at times.

    Thanks, April! I'll have to see if we have it here in the college library. Methinks we just might!

    Matt, I was just thinking about you the other day. I was deciding what to read next, and I'm really tempted to give The Invisible Man a go in light of the quote you shared recently. I'll brace myself for the "ick" factor. :)

    Lu, thanks so much for the tip! I'll keep my eye out. I'm a theater nut, and this one seems like it would make a really interesting play.

    LOL, OK OK! They're on the way, Funky! I promise! I took some action shots of her playing in the yard earlier in the week, so I'll get those online later today.

    Thanks, Eden! I just joined. :)


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