Monday, June 28, 2010

Tar Baby

by Toni Morrison

An interrogation of masculinity in connection with race, delivered as always with Morrison with beautiful wriitng and high concept storytelling. Specifically it’s a focus on the position of black men in the story, and the way they relate to black women and white society, poising a number of nuanced and complex facets of the main relationship. Specifically strong is the way fear and repression operate in relation to the politics of the body, and the varying first impressions produced.

This book had a wonderfully immersive pattern of characterization, developing highly complex and believable people and then making their perspectives highly legible. It’s the type of writing that stands out even among top tie literary authors, and proves that above and beyond the useful social message Morrison’s Nobel Prize in Literature was fully deserved, page by page. On the whole I found something a bit less satisfying about this book, however. While I fully believed in the characters andn their tangled relatioships I didn’t similarly believe in the story, some aspects of it seemed under-developed and even hard to follow, similarly the transitions in perspective were at times a bit jarring and rendered this a somewhat less engaging and productive text than I had anticipated. It’s still a success, but not a completely unreserved one, and I certainly feel Morrison has done better.

Worse than: Sula by Toni Morrison
Better than: To Late the Philantrope by Alan Paton

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