Today is Toni Morrison's 80th birthday. It also happens to be my Mom's birthday too. So Happy Birthday to both Ms. Morrison and Mom!
And speaking of Ms. Morrison, she has had a tremendous effect on me as both a reader and writer. I had read her first novel The Bluest Eye over twenty years ago, and was struck by the exactitude of her prose. She was able to deal with issues like self-hatred and incest without cloying sentimentality or the usual uplifting self-help bromides that sink such heavy topics. I must have read The Bluest Eye a dozen times, unwittingly absorbing her style and language. Since then I've read practically everything she's published. While I don't think everything she's written has always been successful (I wasn't too crazy about her last novel), she nonetheless continues to challenge not only her readers but the literary form as well.