30+ quotes from Jazz by Toni Morrison

Quotes from Jazz

Toni Morrison ·  229 pages

Rating: (18K votes)


“Don't ever think I fell for you, or fell over you. I didn't fall in love, I rose in it.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“Pain. I seem to have an affection, a kind of sweettooth for it. Bolts of lightning, little rivulets of thunder.
And I the eye of the storm.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“the hopelessness that comes from knowing too little and feeling too much (so brittle, so dry he is in danger of the reverse: feeling nothing and knowing everything)”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want it?”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“But the picking out, the choosing. Don't ever think I fell for you, or fell over you. I didn't fall in love, I rose in it. I saw you and made up my mind. My mind.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“I’m crazy about this City.

Daylight slants like a razor cutting the buildings in half. In the top half I see looking faces and it’s not easy to tell which are people, which the work of stonemasons. Below is shadow where any blasé thing takes place: clarinets and lovemaking, fists and the voices of sorrowful women. A city like this one makes me dream tall and feel in on things. Hep. It’s the bright steel rocking above the shade below that does it. When I look over strips of green grass lining the river, at church steeples and into the cream-and-copper halls of apartment buildings, I’m strong. Alone, yes, but top-notch and indestructible-like the City in 1926 when all the wars are over and there will never be another one. The people down there in the shadow are happy about that. At last, at last, everything’s ahead. The smart ones say so and people listening to them and reading what they write down agree: Here comes the new. Look out.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“Say make me, remake me. You are free to do it and I am free to let you because look, look. Look where your hands are. Now.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“It's nice when grown people whisper to each other under the covers. Their ecstasy is more a leaf-sigh than bray and the body is the vehicle, not the point. They reach, grown people, for something beyond, way beyond and way, way down underneath tissue. They are remembering while they whisper the carnival dolls they won and the Baltimore boats they never sailed on. The pears they let hang on the limb because if they plucked them, they would be gone from there and who else would see that ripeness if they took it away for themselves? How could anybody passing by see them and imagine for themselves what the flavour would be like? Breathing and murmuring under covers both of them have washed and hung out on the line, in a bed they chose together and kept together nevermind one leg was propped on a 1916 dictionary, and the mattress, curved like a preacher's palm asking for witnesses in His name's sake, enclosed them each and every night and muffled their whispering, old-time love. They are under the covers because they don't have to look at themselves anymore; there is no stud's eye, no chippie glance to undo them. They are inward toward the other, bound and joined by carnival dolls and the steamers that sailed from ports they never saw. That is what is beneath their undercover whispers.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“I laughed but before I could agree with the hairdressers that she was crazy, she said, 'What's the world for if you can't make it up the way you want it?'

" 'The way I want it?'

" 'Yeah. The way you want it. Don't you want it to be something more than what it is?'

" 'What'st eh point? I can't change it.'

" 'That's the point. If you don't, it will change you and it'll be your fault cause you let it. I let it. And messed up my life.'

" 'Mess it up how?'

" 'Forgot it.'

" 'Forgot?'

" 'Forgot it was mine. My life. I just ran up and down the streets wishing I was somebody else.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“A son ain't what a woman say. A son is what a man do.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“When they fall in love with a city, it is for forever and it is like forever.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“Whatever happens, whether you get rich or stay poor, ruin your health or live to old age, you always end up back where you started: hungry for the one thing everybody loses - young loving.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“They laughed too, even Rose Dear shook her head and smiled, and suddenly the world was right side up. Violet learned then what she had forgotten until this moment: that laughter is serious. More complicated, more serious than tears.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“I was so sure it would happen. That the past was an abused record with no choice but to repeat itself at the crack and no power on earth could lift the arm that held the needle.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“Hospitality is gold in this City; you have to be clever to figure out how to be welcoming and defensive at the same time. When to love something and when to quit. If you don't know how, you can end up out of control or controlled by some outside thing like that hard case last winter.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“And the City, in its own way, gets down for you, cooperates, smoothing its sidewalks, correcting its curbstones, offering you melons and green apples on the corner. Racks of yellow head scarves; strings of Egyptian beads. Kansas fried chicken and something with raisins call attention to an open window where the aroma seems to lurk. And if that's not enough, doors to speakeasies stand ajar and in that cool dark place a clarinet coughs and clears its throat waiting for the woman to decide on the key. She makes up her mind and as you pass by informs your back that she is daddy's little angel child. The City is smart at this: smelling and good and looking raunchy; sending secret messages disguised as public signs: this way, open here, danger to let colored only single men on sale woman wanted private room stop dog on premises absolutely no money down fresh chicken free delivery fast. And good at opening locks, dimming stairways. Covering your moans with its own.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“All she saw, down in the cellar well beneath the stoop, was a light yellow feather with a tip of green. And she had never named him. Had called him "my parrot" all these years. "My parrot." "Love you. "Love you."
Did the dogs get him? Or did he get the message - that she said, "My parrot" and he said, "Love you," and she had never said it back or even taken the trouble to name him - and manage somehow to fly away on wings that had not soared for six years.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“Little of that makes for love, but it does pump desire. The woman who churned a man's blood as she leaned all alone on a fence by a country road might not expect even to catch his eye in the City. But if she is clipping quickly down the big-city street in heels, swinging her purse, or sitting on a stoop with a cool beer in her hand, dangling her shoe from the toes of her foot, the man, reacting to her posture, to soft skin on stone, the weight of the building stressing the delicate, dangling shoe, is captured. And he'd think it was the woman he wanted, and not some combination of curved stone, and a swinging, high-heeled shoe moving in and out of sunlight. He would know right away the deception, the trick of shapes and light and movement, but it wouldn't matter at all because the deception was part of it too. Anyway, he could feel his lungs going in and out. There is no air in the City but there is breath, and every morning it races through him like laughing gas brightening his eyes, his talk, and his expectations. In no time at all he forgets little pebbly creeks and apple trees so old they lay their branches along the ground and you have to reach down or stoop to pick the fruit. He forgets a sun that used to slide up like the yolk of a good country egg, thick and red-orange at the bottom of the sky, and he doesn't miss it, doesn't look up to see what happened to it or to stars made irrelevant by the light of thrilling, wasteful street lamps.

That kind of fascination, permanent and out of control, seizes children, young girls, men of every description, mothers, brides, and barfly women, and if they have their way and get to the City, they feel more like themselves, more like the people they always believed they were.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“...a habit that had become one of those necessary things for the night... surely a body-friendly if not familiar-lying next to you. Someone whose touch is a reassurance, not an affront or a nuissance. Whose heavy breathing neither enrages nor discusts you, but amuses you like that of a cherished pet.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“...the City is what they want it to be: thriftless, warm, scary and full of amiable strangers. No wonder they forget pebbly creeks and when they do not forget the sky completely think of it as a tiny piece of information about the time of day or night.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“When they fall in love with a city it is for forever. As though there never was a time when they didn't love it. The minute they arrive at the train station or get off the ferry and glimpse the wide streets and the wasteful lamps lighting them, they know they are born for it. There, in a city, they are not so much new as themselves, their stronger, riskier selves. And in the beginning when they first arrive, and twenty years later when they and the city have grown up, they love that part of themselvers so much they forget what loving other people was like - if they ever knew, that is.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“I told you again that you were the reason Adam ate the apple and its core. That when he left Eden, he left a rich man. Not only did he have Eve, but he had the taste of the first apple in the world in his mouth for the rest of his life.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“this is the it you've been looking for”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“Pain. I seem to have an affection, a kind of sweettooth for it. Bolts of lightning, little rivulets of thunder. And I the eye of the storm. Mourning the split trees, hens starving on rooftops. Figuring out what can be done to save them since they cannot save themselves without me because- well, its my storm, isn’t it? I break lives to prove I can mend them back again. And although the pain is theirs, I share it, don’t I? Of course. Of course. I wouldn't have it any other way. But it is another way. I am uneasy now. Feeling a bit false. What, I wonder, what would I be without a few brilliant spots of blood to ponder? Without aching words that set, then miss, the mark?”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“Black women were armed, black women were dangerous and the less money they had the deadlier the weapon they chose.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“I didn't fall in love, I rose in it.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“You're in trouble,' she says, yawning. 'Deep, deep trouble. Can't rival the dead for love. Lose every time.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“She talked like that. But I understood what she meant. About having another you inside that isn't anything like you. Dorcas and I used to make up love scenes and describe them to each other. It was fun and a little smutty. Something about it bothered me, though. Not the loving stuff, but the picture I had of myself when I did it. Nothing like me. I say myself as somebody I'd seen in a picture show or a magazine. Then it would work. If I pictured myself the way I am it seemed wrong.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“The things that help you sleep all the way through it. Back-breaking labor might do it; or liquor. Surely a body -- friendly if not familiar -- lying next to you. Someone whose touch is a reassurance, not an affront or a nuisance. Whose heavy breathing neither enrages nor disgusts, but amuses you like that of a cherished pet.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


“She thought it would dry his tears and give her some satisfaction as well. It could have worked, I suppose, but the children of suicides are hard to please and quick to believe no one loves them because they are not really here.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from Jazz


About the author

Toni Morrison
Born place: in Lorain, Ohio, The United States
Born date February 18, 1931
See more on GoodReads

Popular quotes

“To write,” Marguerite Duras remarked, “is also not to speak. It is to keep silent. It is to howl noiselessly.”
― Terry Tempest Williams, quote from When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice


“Rosy ferried the drinks back to the table, slid the Guinness his way. “You said you have a show. Is it a comedy?”
“No, but you will laugh, I hope, after hearing my qualifications.” His eyes glittered. “I do magic, with a twist. The twist is, my clothes are the first thing to disappear.”
Rosy gaped.
“Yes. I do magic… naked. I not only have a big ego.” Marek wiggled his middle finger. “I have a big wand.”
― R.G. Manse, quote from Screw Friendship


“Curse Emery Thane for being such a difficult man to rescue!”
― Charlie N. Holmberg, quote from The Paper Magician


“because we have two legs and travelling on foot is the right speed for human beings. Walking sorts out your problems and anxieties, and calms your worries. Living from day to day, from inspiration to inspiration, much of what I have learned as a Jain has come from wandering. Sometimes, even my dreams are of walking.”
― William Dalrymple, quote from Nine Lives


“It’s just how love gets described in the movies. Like in Sleepless in Seattle . . .” This is the movie they showed us last night. “Tom Hanks’s character is musing about why he fell in love with his dead wife, and he says that it was because she could peel an apple in one long strip, or something like that. And I was reading something similar in a book recently, only that was about peeling an orange . . . anyway . . . I’ve just never felt like the way someone peels fruit would be a reason to spend the rest of your life with them.”
― Catherine McKenzie, quote from Spin


Interesting books

The Traitor's Emblem
(1.7K)
The Traitor's Emblem
by Juan Gomez-Jurado
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
(33.9K)
The Prime of Miss Je...
by Muriel Spark
The Blue Sword
(48.8K)
The Blue Sword
by Robin McKinley
Thus Spoke Zarathustra
(83.7K)
Thus Spoke Zarathust...
by Friedrich Nietzsche
An Echo in the Bone
(92.6K)
An Echo in the Bone
by Diana Gabaldon
The Spy Who Came In from the Cold
(52.3K)
The Spy Who Came In...
by John le Carré

About BookQuoters

BookQuoters is a community of passionate readers who enjoy sharing the most meaningful, memorable and interesting quotes from great books. As the world communicates more and more via texts, memes and sound bytes, short but profound quotes from books have become more relevant and important. For some of us a quote becomes a mantra, a goal or a philosophy by which we live. For all of us, quotes are a great way to remember a book and to carry with us the author’s best ideas.

We thoughtfully gather quotes from our favorite books, both classic and current, and choose the ones that are most thought-provoking. Each quote represents a book that is interesting, well written and has potential to enhance the reader’s life. We also accept submissions from our visitors and will select the quotes we feel are most appealing to the BookQuoters community.

Founded in 2018, BookQuoters has quickly become a large and vibrant community of people who share an affinity for books. Books are seen by some as a throwback to a previous world; conversely, gleaning the main ideas of a book via a quote or a quick summary is typical of the Information Age but is a habit disdained by some diehard readers. We feel that we have the best of both worlds at BookQuoters; we read books cover-to-cover but offer you some of the highlights. We hope you’ll join us.