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Tar Baby

1 rating: 3.0
A book by Toni Morrison

“Deeply perceptive. . . . Return[s] risk and mischief to the contemporary American novel.” —John Irving,The New York Times Book Review    “Toni Morrison has made herself into the D. H. Lawrence of the black … see full wiki

Tags: Book
Author: Toni Morrison
Publisher: Vintage
1 review about Tar Baby

Toni Morrison's examination of this topic is, in my opinion, wonderful.

  • Jun 3, 2006
Each time I read this novel I appreciate it even more. The characters are carefully drawn, unveiling their idiosyncrasies layer by layer. Valerian's retreat into the greenhouse where he must learn how to get plants to bloom and ants to walk the other way is both amusing and pathetic. What I have found particularly enjoyable is Morrison's use of symbolism. The woman in the yellow dress, the tar pit, etc. all weave together to form a powerful novel. Perhaps not quite as arresting as "Beloved," "Tar Baby" certainly deserves high marks.

"Tar Baby" is among Morrison's best, and near the top of my list of American literature. Morrison's prose is angry here; perhaps that is why so many had a difficult time with this novel. I admit I do not agree with the racial philosophy of this book. The idea of a Black woman "selling out" is preposterous to me. But this does not lessen the impact of the statement, nor does it illegitimate the novel, allowing a reader to dismiss it as bigoted, or separatist. Rather, it exposes one to another point of view which, while disturbing, is nonetheless thought-provoking. Funny, but I always likened her writing style to Hemingway. Distinctly her own. While it is seldom easy to read a book of hers, she is an adept master of language, and crafts sentences filled with emotion and beauty.

It is too easy to say this book creates boundaries and contrasts- Black/White, Strong/Weak, Good/Bad. However, the point of the novel is identity. Toni Morrison's examination of this topic is, in my opinion, wonderful, and captivated me throughout.

The book may not be an easy read but it's also not a newspaper. Just like anything in life, what is worthwhile takes focus and time. I can whip through the works of Crichton and Grisham in a month and still would not get the knowledge and perspective that Tar Baby or almost any Morrison novel can offer.

If you want a light, airy read never take on the challenges of Morrison. If you want literature that has weight and an array of beautiful images and philosophies then "Tar Baby!" is worth the effort of resisting the quick read and delving into this text.

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