Jazz

by: Toni Morrison

Important Quotations

I'm crazy about this City. Daylight slants like a razor cutting the buildings in half. In the top half I see looking faces and it's not easy to tell which are people, which the work of stonemasons. Below is shadow were any blasé thing takes place: clarinets and lovemaking, fists and the voices of sorrowful women. A city like this one makes me dream tall and feel in on things. Hep. It's the bright steel rocking above the shade below that does it.

This quote appears near the beginning of the book, establishing the colloquial tone of the narrator who seems to be conversing casually with a confidant or friend. She writes as if she were speaking naturally: with a phrase like "I'm crazy about this City" or the off-handed "hep" she transports us to the city that she so carefully describes. The image she paints with the hard angles of daylight overlapping buildings evokes the feel of a cubist art, a movement that captured the art world in the early part of the century. Like the jazz aesthetic, this painting style shatters planes of vision, fitting them back together in surprising or evocative ways. Like scenes below the line of the sunlight, the entire image is alive with motion that is both violent and beautiful.