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Paradise (Oprah's Book Club) Paperback – April 1, 1999
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Paradise actually begins with the arrival of these vigilantes, only to launch into an intricate series of flashbacks and interlaced stories. The cast is large--indeed, it seems as though we must have met all 360 members of Ruby's populace--and Morrison knows how to imprint even the minor players on our brains. Even more amazing, though, are the full-length portraits she draws of the four Convent dwellers and their executioners: rich, rounded, and almost painful in their intimacy. This richness--of language and, ultimately, of human understanding--combats the aura of saintliness that can occasionally mar Morrison's fiction. It also makes for a spectacular piece of storytelling, in which such biblical concepts as redemption and divine love are no postmodern playthings but matters of life and (in the very first sentence, alas) death. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
It does pose a difficult read for those looking for a casual book, because it is a deep and complexly interwoven book meant to stir emotions and one's mind. I am amazed at the spotlight reviews who seem confused by her style of writing and could not become involved with the characters. Morrison uses a recursive approach, one that breathes new life into each chapter (as a new character is introduced Morrison takes the time to back track to explain that person's past before joining the character with the present time of the book; Morrison's Master's Thesis was on Faulkner, who used the recursive style heavily). Although this could create confusion if you aren't aware of it, I think it makes for an altogether complete and compelling story.
The Convent itself and the women that reside within are compelling, and sad, stories ready to be told, and as they unfold with their interactions with Ruby it creates a book that is absolutely amazing.
This book is not for those looking for a quick easy read, or something that goes from point A to point B with no stops in between. This book will test your mind and emotions as the tale unfolds through complex chapters, leaving you with a much more fulfilling book than one that does not make you think about what you are reading. If I could give this a six star rating, I wouldn't hesitate.
The reason why so many people struggle to get through a book as difficult as Paradise (which Morrison originally planned to title "War," by the way) is because they are afraid of being confused. Morrison, however, uses confusion as a means of bringing us deeper into her world. The act of reading is not so much a discovery of answers, but of more questions. Paradise is first and foremost a mystery novel: who are the nine men with guns in the first chapter? Who is the white girl? What has provoked this violence? etc etc. Every answer that Morrison gives us comes at a price: more questions. Personally, I wouldn't want to have it any other way.
So did I understand Paradise? Yes, but only after carefully picking it apart chapter by chapter in one of my English seminars. Even now, I'm not so sure that I truly comprehend all of the book's themes. And do I understand the ending? Yes, but only after wading through hours of various interviews with Morrison in which she discussed her book to great length. Most importantly, was the book worth the read? I believe so, but I devoted a lot of work to Paradise before arriving at this conclusion. Morrison's writing style is not to be taken lightly; words and themes often contain several, and sometimes seemingly infinitesimal, levels of meaning. The bottom line is that what you take away from Paradise, if anything, is up to you. If you want to walk away from this novel with any sort of satisfaction, be prepared to commit a lot though and research to the undertaking.
Now, I'm not going to discuss the novel's meanings here for those who don't have the time or the will to put in the sort of work I'm talking about because doing so would far exceed the 1,000 word limit that amazon.com allows for these reviews. (I wrote 10 pages alone for my seminar on the theme of sexuality as a form of female submission and still had plenty of material left over to work with.) Whether Morrison has overextended her literary license with Paradise is debatable, but I would encourage you, the reader, to devote some effort to the reading. Who knows, you might find something worth keeping. I sure did.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Toni Morrison is a well respected writer and I do commend her for her mountain of work . This one is confusing, I struggled to get pass the first page. However, I finally did. Read morePublished 9 days ago by George Wilder Jr.
Paradise is set in the small town of Ruby. Nine black founding fathers who felt ostracized in the white towns they lived in built Ruby to be a place where black people could freely... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Reader2307
As the final book in the Toni Morrison trilogy, this was an awesome conclusion. The trilogy explores the theme of the over abundance of love, be it parental (Beloved), romantic... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Margaret Carmel
"Paradise" is the only book I have read by Toni Morrison and I found it pretty incredible. Any new book you read will be different but this book was really unique. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Stephen M. King
Hands down the worst book I've ever read. Dark, gloomy, pretentious and confusing. I'm an avid reader and love complex books. Read morePublished 12 months ago by D. Rodney
Morrison is a good writer but a lot is jammed packed in the book. It makes it a little hard to follow at times. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Alicia