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Tar Baby Paperback – June 8, 2004
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more
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“Toni Morrison has made herself into the D. H. Lawrence of the black psyche, transforming individuals into forces, idiosyncrasy into inevitability.” —New York
“Arresting images, fierce intelligence, poetic language . . . One becomes entranced by Toni Morrison’s story.” —The Washington Post
“Wrenchingly good. A terrific book.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Hypnotic, stunningly alive.” —The San Diego Union-Tribune
“That rare commodity, a truly public novel. . . . Morrison’s genius lies in her uncanny ability to immerse you totally in the world she creates.” —Newsweek
“Powerful. . . . A stunning performance. . . . Morrison is one of the most exciting living American writers.” —Kansas City Star
“It takes one to the sheer edge of human relationships.” —Vogue
“Wise, beautiful, astonishing, absolutely breathtaking.” —St. Louis Globe-Democrat
“Reminds us again that Toni Morrison is one of the finest writers in America today.” —Louisville Courier-Journal
“Tar Baby is stupendous. Morrison is a writer of amazing skill.” —Roanoke Times & World
“Its scope is grand and the interplay complex. But Morrison has the control of a skilled choreographer, with a careful eye pinned on pacing, suspense, grace, and frenzy. . . . She has an awesome lyric flair.” —The Charlotte Observer
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Top Customer Reviews
And, folks, you really need that appreciation if you're going to get into a novel like Tar Baby. I believe some very basic knowledge needs to be in place. A) Some knowledge of the African American folktale of the tar baby and Brer Rabbit B.) Some knowledge of the biblical story of Adam and Eve and how religious doctrine has traditionally interpreted it. C.) Some understanding of the "trickster" (and this novel is filled with this figure) tradition in both American and African lore--who is tricked, who's doing the tricking and what is the overall "trick": colonialism? male-female relations? race relations?
I believe that once we recover much of the traditions that someone like Morrison has been exposed to (from the Bible to the blues to Faulkner to Zora Neale Hurston), her novels can be read with some appreciation and respect. . . and love.Read more ›
"Tar Baby" is a frequently outrageous satire of racial identity, sexual politics, consumer culture, class consciousness, and family dysfunctionality. Her cast of characters is colorfully warped in an almost Dickensian manner. Particularly interesting is the portrait of Jadine, the black wunderkind beloved by her wealthy white patrons; I think of her as a whorish postmodern parody of early African-American poet Phillis Wheatley.
As always, Morrison's writing is marked by passages of poetic power and grace. Check out, for example, this marvelous description of Son's hair: "Wild, aggressive, vicious hair that needed to be put in jail. Uncivilized, reform-school hair. Mau Mau, Attica, chain gang hair."
Ultimately, I read "Tar Baby" as a comic tragedy of people trapped in a complex web of racial, sexual, and economic mythologies. Profane, thought-provoking, ironic, and rich in scathing humor, this novel is ample proof of Toni Morrison's writerly talent.
I think the "trick" to reading Morrison is reading at your own level. I read many of her books as a young teenager and enjoyed them merely for their plots. I liked them because the people were fascinating and the suspense was real. Morrison hadn't won the Nobel or been championed by Oprah Winfrey, so I didn't have her reputation to contend with. And I didn't feel that my intelligence or sophistication depended on understanding her every word. So if I couldn't understand something, I moved on with the story. Now that I am in college, and an English major, I understand much more of Morrison's art as I re-read the novels of my adolescence. However, if I don't understand the significance of some image or passage, I let it go. Then I talk to someone about it. One cannot read Morrison's academic and artistic novels any other way. Although it doesn't have to be drudgery, Morrison's books are meant to be "studied" (which is just a fancy way of saying "discussed"). If you are intimidated by the Morrison mystique, I recommend leaving one's ego at the door when entering Morrison's world. Then, I recommend talking to someone more familiar with Morrison's work before you cast her books aside.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I didn't enjoy this book. I just really couldn't get into it. Im not sure if it was the storyline or how it was written. Read morePublished 17 days ago
Better than Beloved, this book remains the best novel of the past 30 years in my bookPublished 1 month ago by Markey Mark
Once again, Toni Morrison has done it again! She has managed to craft a story that is beautifully encompassed by a world full of many of the same issues we face today. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Elease Samms
Tar Baby by Toni Morrison was one of the most thought provoking novels I has ever read. It captured my imagination and took me on an amazing journey into the lives of the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Barbara Sherman
I hadn't heard much about this book, but am so glad it was directed my way. Beautiful work here.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Most underrated Toni Morrison book. Chapter seven of this book has to be the most beautiful piece of literature that I've ever read. Love, love, love.Published 4 months ago by Islah Tauheed
Tar Baby is racist in itself. I don't think books like this bring people together. Actually, they highlight our differences and harp on them to no end. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Julian
The term “Tar Baby” comes from the Uncle Remus children’s story of a rabbit that gets caught in a tar figure made by a fox. Read morePublished 11 months ago by John Martin