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FILM REVIEW: Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am

She’s a literary icon whose accolades include a 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature. For the African American reader who has been glued to her books since 1970, starting with her poignant debut novel The Bluest Eye, this documentary is an opportunity to see how the pieces of Toni Morrison’s life have made her whole. For those who came to the party late, this recounting of her evolution explains why, when you see a photo of this amazingly young looking 88-year-old, you can discern a certain brilliance hiding in her eyes, an extreme intelligence behind her disarming smile and a stately aura that is somewhere between that of queen and goddess. One of the most interesting facts in this bio is that Morrison grew up in Lorain, Ohio, a multicultural immigrant town. Even if people didn’t fraternize much with each other in their homes (and that’s only a guess), shopping, town activities and education threw everyone into the same mix. It’s no surprise that when Morrison entered Howard University and confronted segregation in The South that her perspective on life and race changed dramatically. Her evolution on the subject matter is as interesting to watch as her development as a writer. When she helped school her white editors on the power of her works and viewpoints on African American culture and experiences, she faced the same challenge that many African Americans encounter when dealing with their white counterparts in business, education, politics, etc. Resistance. As she recounts her experiences, Morrison is poised, resolved and reflective. Somewhat akin to an intelligent philosopher or an academic who patiently teaches a class of inquisitive but slow-learning freshmen.