Sep 1, 2001

Joe and Violet.

There's an English language bookshop at Trastevere. THE CORNER BOOKSHOP. It's right across from that bakery. That bakery that bombards you with those calorie filled smells. And if you look towards the bakery, there's no way you won't go in and buy a big chunk of pizza bianca dripping with oil. So, to avoid temptation, I look the other way and thus look right into the bookshop's display window. Another kind of temptation--more expensive but less fattening. The other morning, to keep from buying pizza bianca, I bought Toni Morrison's JAZZ.

Jazz embraces the vibrant music and lifestyle of 1920s Harlem, an urban renaissance of opportunity and glamour. A novel of murder, hard lives, and broken dreams, Jazz sways with a lyric medley of voices and human...

The answer in Jazz has to do with "real passion," Morrison said, "the sort of thing where you say, 'I can't live without you,' and you really mean it. "The inspiration came from a photo of a young girl in a coffin by the Harlem Renaissance photographer James VanDerZee. Her boyfriend had shot her, and she kept his identity secret so that he could escape. Morrison explained, "And I thought, now if that isn't the most romantic teenage passion!

The first three pages were great. A kind of Charlie Parker rhythm. And sentences with juxtaposed thoughts. But then something happened and I got lost along the way. Maybe because I don't listen to jazz.

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