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Tar Baby by Toni Morrison (thoughts)

June 9, 2011

My new favourite Morrison (at least until my next reread of Beloved). It’s a bit like a play with its tight cast of characters: an old, wealthy white American man, now retired on a Caribbean island, his younger wife, the older black couple that have been his ‘help’ for decades, their niece, a supermodel visiting from France, and a mysterious young black man from Florida who appears out of nowhere. Their interactions bring up issues of race, sex, privilege, beauty, power, and love head on, and Morrison doesn’t allow the reader (or any of her characters) a free pass. At the same time, this is a page-turning story in the good old Southern Gothic dysfunctional tradition; I kept deciding to read ‘just one more chapter’ until I had finished it even sooner than I intended. And when I got to the end, a large part of me wanted to just turn back to the beginning and reread it straight away! She’s definitely at the top of her game here, and when you’re talking about Toni Morrison, that’s saying something indeed.  Highly recommend, to both old Morrison fans and those curious to see what all the fuss is about.

Suggested Companion Reads (linked to my thoughts)

16 Comments leave one →
  1. June 9, 2011 9:36 am

    Thanks for the review, I have read Beloved and The Bluest Eye and I wondered where to go from there so this one has been added to the list.

  2. June 9, 2011 10:01 am

    I agree that Beloved is worth a re-read but I still sometimes have trouble with Morrison. I never did get all the way through The Bluest Eyes but I might have to give this one a look.

  3. June 9, 2011 11:07 am

    I have only read three Morrisons (A Mercy, Song of Solomon, and Love) but have enjoyed them all in different ways. Mostly I am just always in awe of how masterful Morrison’s writing is… it is so evocative and powerful and she is definitely one of those authors who I need to read in her entirety. I still need to get copies of Tar Baby, The Bluest Eye and possibly Sula and then I will have all of her books. I like to dole them out slowly so that I can fully appreciate them…

  4. June 9, 2011 11:07 am

    Oh, I haven’t read this one. I adore Toni…I need this to be in my hands and soon.

  5. Ruthiella permalink
    June 9, 2011 11:42 am

    “Tar Baby” was the first Toni Morrison I ever read and I liked to so much that I immediatly sought out her other books. I think she can be hard to read, but I also think that Tar Baby is probably one of the more accessible books.

  6. June 9, 2011 12:12 pm

    Wonderful review, Eva! I haven’t read a Morrison book yet. Maybe I will start with this one. I remember reading your review of Jamaica Kincaid’s ‘A Small Place’ and liking it so much that I wanted to get the book, but my bookstore didn’t seem to have it at that time. I will have to start my search again.

  7. June 9, 2011 12:23 pm

    It’s been many years, but I remember this one so fondly! I think it’s the only Toni Morrison, for me, to rival Beloved.

  8. June 9, 2011 8:52 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever read a review of this one. I heard someone give a paper on it at a conference a few years back, but I haven’t really thought of it since, so thanks for bringing it back to my attention.

  9. June 9, 2011 9:06 pm

    I’m not familiar with this one, or many of Morrison’s books (I’ve only read one-Bluest Eye). But I did love her writing style and I need to get around to more of her books in the near future-thanks for the reminder.

    I also figured I would reply here about your question on the Sankovitch. I don’t think it read like a “blog” at all. It did have episodes, but that was simply her organizing her reading by theme. It was definitely worth it (in my opinion).

    And I cannot wait to see your thoughts on The Mill on the Floss!

    • June 10, 2011 11:20 pm

      Thnx for replying Allie! I’ve put Tolstoy & Purple Chair on hold. :) (And I think I forgot to type it there, but your post on it was wonderful.)

  10. June 10, 2011 2:56 am

    I do love Toni Morrison, but I haven’t yet gotten around to this one as yet.

  11. June 10, 2011 7:26 am

    *gasp* a favorite over BELOVED?! I have a hard time with that but oh my that makes me want to read this and see just WHY!

  12. June 10, 2011 1:32 pm

    I’ve only read two Morrisons (A Mercy and Song of Solomon). Loved the latter, didn’t get on well with the former at all. This sounds amazing, and I do want to read it, but have Love and Sula on the shelf, which will, in all likelihood, take precedence.

  13. June 10, 2011 2:00 pm

    I’ve yet to read anything by Morrison but really can’t wait to. Thanks for the review, sounds fantastic.

  14. June 10, 2011 6:32 pm

    Ooh, Eva, your taste in books and mine seem so similar. Every book you review I instantly want to get my hands on.

  15. June 10, 2011 8:37 pm

    I’ve read The Bluest Eye by this author and have always meant to read more. Beloved has been on my TBR list for some time now but I’m adding this one as well. Great review!

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