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‘Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am’ review: Irresistible voice of beloved writer shines through

By Moira Macdonald at Seattle Times

The Nobel Prize-winning writer Toni Morrison has a voice like a warm blanket, and it spreads across the documentary “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am” irresistibly; when it’s over, you feel like a beloved friend has left the room. In Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ film, Morrison is seated squarely facing the camera and speaking to it, while the other voices in the film – friends, fellow writers, critics, academics – are shot at a more traditional angle. The result is an intimate directness, a sense of a genuine conversation.

Those who know Morrison’s remarkable novels about black America – “The Bluest Eye,” “Sulu,” “Song of Solomon” and the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Beloved,” among others – will be intrigued by the details of her life: She was born Chloe Wofford (Toni came from her baptismal name, Anthony; Morrison from a brief early marriage) in 1931, in the steel town of Lorain, Ohio, and worked as a teenager in the local library. (Morrison admits, with a laugh, that she wasn’t a very good library worker – she preferred reading books over shelving them.) A graduate of Howard University and Cornell University, she had a distinguished career as an editor for Random House – while raising two sons as a single mother, getting up early to write before they woke up – before leaving publishing to devote herself full-time to writing and teaching.

Much of the film’s pleasure is in hearing Morrison speak – about racism (“If you can only be tall if someone is on their knees, then you have a problem”), about controlling the characters she creates in her books (one particularly troublesome one was told to “shut up. This is my book, not yours”), about the everyday effort of writing (“Sometimes you’re nudged, and sometimes you’re just searching”). But I was especially dazzled by brief glances of her manuscripts: worn-soft yellow tablets, covered in Morrison’s tidy, urgent handwriting. Words are crossed out or inserted, character relationships are graphed, worlds are created – an everyday miracle, from an American treasure.   CLICK HERE SEE LOCAL SHOWING

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We are a one-of-a-kind magazine that provides local, regional, national and international information about women’s lives and education, performing and visual arts and writing, the environment, green living and sustainability and regional Western North Carolina business, people and events. “Villages preserve culture: dress, food and dance are a few examples. As villages grow in population and turn into towns, local cafes make way for large American chains. Handmade leather sandals are discarded for a pair of Western sneakers. Due to its small size, a village fosters a tight-knit sense of community. Justpeace.org explains the meaning of the African proverb, “It takes a village,” by stating that a sense of community is critical to maintaining a healthy society. Village members hold a wealth of information regarding their heritage: they know about the ancient traditions, methods of production and the resources of the land. When villages become dispersed or exterminated in times of war, this anthropological knowledge disappears. Large cities are not as conducive to growing and producing foods such as fruits and vegetables. Villages, on the other hand, usually have ample amounts of land and other resources necessary for growing conditions.” The Importance of Villages by Catherine Capozzi Our Mission SheVille.org provides readers with information important to women’s lives and well-being. We focus primarily on the areas of education & health, business & finance, the arts & the environment. We are particularly interested in local & regional resources, organizations & events.
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