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”High Tide In Tucson” by Barbara Kingsolver

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In High Tide In Tucson, Barbara Kingsolver touches on many aspects of living and the nuances that make life worth living. Her series of essays depict many situations found in life with a new light of clarity. In her essays, she is able to draw from her experiences to teach others the many life lessons that she has learned. Since all the essays involve narratives in her eyes, the reader is able to grasp the personal aspect and to feel as if they too have had the same experiences. Kingsolver also displays awe for the natural world and a passion for protecting it. She respects all the world’s cultures without undue glorification, admiring their virtues and discussing their flaws evenhandedly, showing her judicious views on life. Her essays shed new light to those who are trying to find their way in life.

All the passages have a very personal tone as if the reader knows all that Kingsolver is thinking and doing at a given situation. This closeness makes her story more realistic and believable for the readers. It is this sincerity and openness that warms the hearts of readers. For example, she writes, “For each of us–furred, feathered, or skinned alive–the whole earth balances on…In the best of times, I hold in mind the need to care for things beyond the self.” In this quote, she is baring her emotions and beliefs regarding the environment, a subject that will be touched upon. In the paragraphs following that, she asks herself questions and tries to answer them with her heart of gold. The very personal touch just makes the reader want to know more about the author and persuades them to read on, even other books published.

Kingsolver has always been known as an advocate of nature. She devotes much respect to the other inhabitants of her world. Whether regarding palm groves in Spain, endangered nene birds, tomato plants or pupfish, she speaks with a biologist’s knowledge of the flora and fauna around her. Not only does she love Nature for the sake of life, but she is also is a mother fiercely trying protect the world’s natural beauty for her daughter to relish. She devotes her essay, Making Peace, to discuss human’s role in Nature and their interaction with other forms of life. In the last sentence of this essay, she says, “So what, they (animals) all declare with glittering eyes. This is their party and I wasn’t exactly invited.” This shows her belief that we are the intruders and they we should to what we can to minimize the damage for the future, or we will be permanent “guests” alone with no host.

Since there is such a mixing of cultures in America, it is difficult to avoid the subject of diversity. Kingsolver offered various thoughts on her views of other cultures. Kingsolver sees herself as part of a people that includes all races and creeds. She recounts her many observations of Cherokee dancers, the sufferings of Japanese civilians and voodoo customs of West Africans. In her essay, The Vibrations of Djoogbe, she recounts her travels to Benin and what she learned there. She writes, “I felt faintly consoled, and tried to represent myself–in this land of differences–as a cheerful, upstanding member of the Yovo tribe.” Yovo are the white people and she had learned to identify with them as it being a “tribe.” She is doing her best to represent the “white people.” This shows her flexibility to adapt to other ways and how she can incorporate a bit of humor in any situation.

There is much life throughout Kingsolver’s writing and she does a great job of portraying things as they are, without many of the biases that we find in society today. She also was able to address many serious issues, like diversity, with a light yet informative tone. She even adds spices by inserting many little jokes and comical ideas. Although most essays seem to be boring, I actually believe that this collection of essays are worth the time and effort and I plan on reading it more than once. For once, essays have become fun to read, and I think that other readers would be hooked after they read the first essay. It is a flavorful piece of writing that you will want to savor over and over again.

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