Thursday, July 2, 2020

Tar Baby by Toni Morrison

Sometimes when I contemplate reading an author who won, the Nobel Prize, I balk. It almost feels like homework. In this case, though, I really shouldn’t have worried. It’s been a while, but I read Sula, Beloved and The Bluest Eye and really enjoyed all of them, especially Beloved. Those are definitely due for rereads, but I had unread copies of several of her novels that I’m going to try to get through first. I enjoyed this thoroughly, and am mad at myself for putting it off so long.

Unlike the other books I’ve read by her, Tar Baby was set in the then current day of the early eighties. In the first chapter, a man called Son jumps off of the boat he’s serving on and winds up on a privately owned Carribean island, property of a retired candy magnate and his wife, a former Miss Maine, the Streets. Jadine, the protagonist is the niece of the magnate’s butler and housekeeper. She is a model with an advanced degree, financed by the Streets. Jadine and Son’s relationship begins as the veneer of civility in the Streets’ relationship becomes increasingly strained. Jadine’s privilege contrasts with Son’s upbringing and in that tension Morrison is able to talk about race and class with subtlety and insight.

The novel is an excellent melodrama with just a hint of magical realism. Morrison’s prose is as excellent as expected. The story moves from the Carribean to NYC and back very smoothly. I’m looking forward to the others I have on the shelf and a reread of Beloved. I think Song of Solomon will be next. I suspect I will eventually read all of her books.

Highly Recommended

Owned But Previously Unread 2020 45/75

No comments:

Post a Comment