Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am

Loved this very solid but subtle doc about the great American novelist. It makes you want to read all her books, again, or for the first time. The language and the passion, the vision and the humour and the pain, all of it drips from the screen the way it drips from the pages of her books, the prose of which gets read out and incanted and examined here in various ways by various luminaries, from Oprah to Walter Moseley.

I learned a lot about her I didn’t know: how she studied acting, how she made the best ever carrot cake, and how, as an editor at Random House, she helped publish so many black American voices, including teasing out the autobiographies of Muhammud Ali and Angela Davis. 

The use of archive footage is inventive and helpful, piecing together the black experience with a gentleness and delicate emotion rather than anger, giving voice to women previously unheard.

There’s a strong jazz soundtrack pulsing in the background, the sort of style Spike Lee pioneered in his doc-making, and it’s a very watchable, informatics and classy production, with insights and wit, mainly from Toni herself who recounts her own stories, personal and professional, in a lengthy new interview recorded not long before her death last year. It’s inspirational stuff and made me want to revisit all her written words.

Featured image: (c) Timothy Greenfield-Sanders