Mmars's Reviews > Tar Baby

Tar Baby by Toni Morrison
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's review
Jan 18, 2012

it was amazing

I'm wondering how many 1 and 2 star ratings came from readers thinking this would be a good Caribbean vacation beach read. I also wonder how many of them were clueless to the meaning of the term "tar baby". Sigh... There should be no need to discuss that, it's rather obvious that, well, ALL the characters, black, white and mulatto, were tar babies. Inextricably stuck to who they are, no matter where they are, they cannot escape themselves, their pasts, their childhoods. In fact, WE ARE ALL tar babies. And just like the characters in the book it is how we deal with what is inside us that determines how we cope with the circumstances of life on the outside.

I love Morrison's almost overwhelming poetic intensity. For example, early in the book when introducing Margaret (the wealthy white once a trophy wife) Morrison describes her husband Valerian's house as "bigger than her elementary school" and dinners with his friends in which "there men talked about music and money and the Marshall Plan." As in poetry, there is prominent sensory description, in this case smell and touch. Usually writing about the tropics is full of color - colors of the sea, the sands, the birds, flowers, fruit - but the telling of the book is about race, the colors are those of skin along with color obscured by fog, blindness and dreaming or sleep.

I argue that this book is ultimately not about the color of skin or race or stereotypes. It is about what is under that skin and that we cannot escape that. But that we accept life, and ourselves, for what it is.

There is a quote on from Tar Baby on this Goodreads page that begins "At some point..." I'd like to continue where it left off. "The world will always be there-while you sleep it will be there-when you wake it will be there as well. So you can sleep and there is a reason to wake. A dead hydrangea is as intricate and lovely as one in bloom. Bleak sky is as seductive as sunshine, miniature orange trees without blossom or fruit are not defective; they are that. So the windows of the greenhouse can be opened and the weather let in. The latch on the door can be left unhooked, the muslin removed, for the soldier ants are beautiful too and whatever they do will be part of it."

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Marcy (new)

Marcy What a wonderful review! It's in my Amazon cart!

Mmars Thanks, Marcy. Morrison is such a great writer. A master of description.

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