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3.4  ·  Rating Details ·  3,883 Ratings  ·  388 Reviews
Orange Prize winner Ann Patchett's second novel to be published in the UK. John Nickel is a black ex-jazz musician who only wants to be a good father. When his son is taken away to Miami by his mother, Nickel is left with nothing but Muddy's, the Memphis blues bar that he manages. Then he hires Fay Taft, a young white waitress from east Tennessee who has a volatile brother ...more
Unknown Binding
Published April 7th 2003 by Not Avail (first published October 1st 1994)
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May 04, 2016 Arah-Lynda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-said
A Girl walked into the bar. What a great opening line. Right away it had me asking questions.

This is the fourth Patchett novel I have read and one of her earliest. While not as good as Bel Canto or State of Wonder it is still a very enjoyable read.

John Nickel lives in Memphis and is an ex jazz drummer and current bar manager. The girl that walks into his bar is Fay Taft and through her we meet her brother Carl. John over identifies with these two troubled teenagers who have recently and very su
Mar 05, 2014 Barbara rated it liked it
I did enjoy reading this book, but I cannot resist comparing it to Patchett's later work, Bel Canto , which was a shining example for her. It is for this reason dificult for me to give this novel a 4 star rating, but a 3.5 would be quite adequate.

As one can easily see from the description given about this book, it involves a man named John Nickel. He is an ex-jazz musician, running a barroom. His girlfriend has left him, taking their beloved son. Much of the time, John seems unfocused and in a d
Carol Brill
Oct 10, 2015 Carol Brill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing is a 4, the story, more 3/3.5 for me.
I really like the writing in this book and connected immediately to John Nichol, the narrator. John is a drummer who is managing a bar to provide income for his child and ex. He hires a young waitress, Fay and her, Carl, starts hanging around. Fay and Carl have a lot of baggage, and are grieving the death of their father "Taft." John is black and Fay and Carl are white, and race is a theme in the story.
Ultimately this is a story about father's lov
Jan 28, 2014 Kara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am continuing to read Ann Patchett on the strength of her radio interviews and the beautiful things that she says about the writing process and the writer’s life. Her first novel The Patron Saint of Liars did not blow me away—she had a good story, some lovely themes, and a nifty idea for perspective—but I wasn’t left feeling moved or changed, which is what I expect when I finish a novel. I felt the same way when I put down Patchett’s second novel Taft, which is to say that I didn’t feel much. ...more
Aug 31, 2009 James rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was compelling and an engaging read but it left me a little disappointed. I think that I expected more out of the ending then I got though I can't tell you what I was expecting. The end seemed obvious and shallow. The conflict never built to anything and it was ignored in the end. I feel sometimes when I am this disappointed in an ending that I just didn't get it and that may be the case here. I enjoyed reading the book but didn't enjoy ending it.
Nov 26, 2015 Susan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not even sure what to say about this book without it coming out wrong. Not one of my favorites!
It just... Ugh.
Karolyn Sherwood
Taft is Ann Patchett's second novel out of an oeuvre of six (plus a few non-fiction works). To date, I had read all her other novels; this was my final one to read. If you've followed my previous reviews, you know by now that I love her work, but I have to say this is my least favorite.

Patchett has a formula—that is not a bad thing. She twists the stories so well that it's difficult to lump them into any single category. Patchett likes to throw total strangers into a bowl and see how they mix. I
I really wanted to love this book, but in the end, I found that it was just okay. It was a little too slow and I didn't love that while the book seemed to be about John Nickel, there were so many interruptions with Taft and his children, none of which were very exciting. John's relationship with Fay was also a little weird (actually all of his relationships with women were weird) and I didn't really get interested in the story until the last fifty pages or so. This was my first Patchett book, an ...more
"Taft" is an odd little book, in which the author attempts the portrait of a man whose desire to right the wrongs of his past are continuously thwarted by the one he wronged the most: the mother of his child. As the novel begins, she - Marion - has left Memphis for Miami, leaving him - John Nickel - alone, only occasionally allowed to talk with Franklin - their son - on the phone. John is a former jazz drummer who now manages a bar, and before he can wallow too much in his own problems, in walks ...more
Jul 24, 2016 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First stop from the Smokeys to New Orleans was Ann's bookstore in Nashville. I picked up this book because the setting along the Mississippi resonated with a trip that really started at the Natchez Trace (or maybe Parnassus). I've been to and through Memphis many times... And sense of place is so important in life and these stories.

Rarely do I give a book 5 stars. Ann's characters were effortless, especially in a time when our country continues to reel from the senseless deaths of our black fam
This was very different in many ways. First, although it deals much with romantic love, it is also a huge testimony on parental love and what one does as a parent or one needs from it as a child. We are given the contrast between Taft, a fairly stereotypical, lower middle class father and his roles, etc. to that of Nickel, a parent who has never married the mother of his child, but who, nonetheless, loves his son so much and is willing to sacrifice much to make sure he is happy and taken care of ...more
What a total surprise this book was! I'd never heard of it before stumbling over it at Goodwill. Bel Canto had such beautiful writing (though there were times the slowness drove me a bit batty) that I just had to pick it up.

It was wonderful. A story of a father's love in two families. The characters and relationships rich and satisfying, though I wanted to smack both Fay and CArl at various times for thier thick headed stubborn ways.

A couple of passages grabbed me- because of how Patchett captu
Jan 19, 2010 Sas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Taft by Ann Patchett is a gently written story that I enjoyed immensely.

A girl walked into a bar. This is a provocative opening to the story. It instantly brought up questions. How old? Why did she walk into the bar?
Who is she?

The bar is managed by John Nickles. John is black and had been a jazz musician. He lost his son who had given meaning to his life as the boys mother had before she conceived. When John was finally ok with it the situation was already to late.

John Nickel is frought with d
May 05, 2016 gaudeo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 1/2 stars. I enjoyed this book a great deal more than Patchett's more recent (and more lauded) works. The narrator is an African American man, and Patchett's ability to inhabit his mind and body strikes me as very authentic. The only beef I have with the book is what feels like the intrusion of the title character, Taft, the father of two other characters, who is actually dead at the time of the narrative. Taft's significance doesn't warrant the attention the author gives him, let alone the ti ...more
Oct 15, 2012 Liz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a lovely little read about the parallels of two men who never met and never will. A young black man (John)who runs a bar and is trying to make sense of his life after making sacrifices for love and family and a white man (Taft) who has children young and is working hard to try and make ends meet. When Taft dies suddenly is family is thrown into chaos and his two young children cross paths with John and their lives become entwined, complicated and simple as both men are haunted by the oth ...more
Nov 13, 2015 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-ebook
John Nickel is a bar manager; at the beginning of the story, he hires a 17-year-old girl, Fay Taft, to waitress at the bar despite her young age. Nickel has a son Franklin, but his mother has recently moved him to Miami, far away from Memphis where Nickel lives and works. As a result of this separation, Nickel becomes far too attached to Fay and her brother Carl. This connection brings up flashback "memories" of their father (I believe they are meant to be as if Nickel was there himself, meaning ...more
A bar on Beale Street in Memphis, managed by a black, middle-aged, former musician, who has given up performing to please the mother of his son, has all the markings of a sad story, a “blues song” as the front cover identifies.
What keeps this novel from becoming a classic tragedy is, simply, Ann Patchett's writing. This second novel, written in 1994, depicts Memphis between eras. Property values in the city have increased, tourists are filling the clubs on Beale Street, but race still defines op
May 29, 2014 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to give this one four stars, because I gave "The Patron Saint of Liars" three, and this one was better. In fact, it's quite good, though still not up to the level of "Bel Canto."

The story pulls you right in: Black bar owner hires a white girl to work for him, and each senses the other's vulnerabilities and weaknesses, their longings, where the missing pieces are. They are kind to each other, but the prognosis is not good, and some pretty bad things happen along the way.

Patchett is such a m
Nancy Kackley
The story was interesting and the interplay of the characters was engaging. I think that men, especially fathers, might enjoy it a bit more than me since they might understand and connect with the emotions of the main character and one of the secondary characters who is also a father. The portrayal of two fathers with two radically different life stories, from two very separate parts of American society, is probably the most interesting theme of the story.
Feb 08, 2014 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Patchett does a wonderful job incorporating music into her stories. John Nickel is an ex drummer who now runs a bar. He hires a waitress named Fay Taft and her brother Carl who only seems to bring trouble with him. Nickel seems like a regular guy just trying to do right and hopefully get his son closer to home. He also constructs a history of Fay's father which seems like it could be true and is never confirmed nor denied. Patchett did a good job of this in her writing. She switched back and for ...more
Sep 19, 2016 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this at a bargain bookseller this summer, and I had never even heard of it. The plot and style are more in line with Patchett's Run than with some of her later novels. The characterization, as is usual for this author, is strong. Even minor characters are easy to imagine. I wanted more from the main character, though. At the end, I still wondered about his unwillingness to really fight for that which he loves.

However, one of the most powerful passages in the book, is "It wasn't possible
Mar 14, 2015 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved each and every character, they were so well drawn that they seemed both familiar and original at the same time. I felt as if I have met them all at one time or another. John Nickel, the narrator was a riveting character, with his deep empathy and love for his son, compassion/lust for the young waitress who shows up with her brother, Carl, the most doomed in a novel of lost souls. The story made perfect sense but I had a tough time with the past/present splice. I often felt that the minute ...more
Carolyn Simmons
Nov 27, 2015 Carolyn Simmons rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book, but not as much as I liked two other books by Ann Patchett that I have already read. The characters are very likable and the author develops their stories and personalities well.

What I didn't like is that we really do not know the truth about the father of the two young people who died.

I think the theme of the book is "what does it really mean to be a father?". The main character wants to be a good father and he wanted the dead father to also be a good father......but like I
Feb 09, 2015 Donna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had never heard of this Patchett novel. But it jumped into my hand while looking for an interesting read at the library. In a interview in the back of the book, she calls this the second novel syndrome...not just as popular at the first.

John Nichols is a interesting character. He becomes a bit too involved in the life of a young waitress at the Memphis bar he manages. Fay falls for him; her brother is Trouble, with a capital T.

It was a good read. Take it or leave it.
I didn't particularly like
Linda Fagioli-Katsiotas
Some of the other reviews mentioned how it wasn't as good as her other books but this one was written 20 years ago. Naturally, she has evolved as an author. It's classic Patchett characterization. The reader gets to know the characters intimately and then is invested in what happens to each. It's written in first person--the narrator is a young black man--a bold move on Patchett's part, but I thought, well done . . . I'm an old white woman so maybe I do not know what I am talking about. The unde ...more
Oct 25, 2015 Joe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an exceptionally well written book but the story seemed to me to a bit disjointed. Fathers love their children ... Sometimes is difficult situations. I thought Patchett tried to develop a parallel between Nichols and Taft (the father). It did not work for me at all.

I liked several of the characters. They were real and developed well. I can see where Patchett will develop into an excellent novelist. But with this her second book I don't think that she is there yet. I look forward to read
May 25, 2015 Kelli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southern, 2015
I agree with the many reviewers stating that Taft pales in comparison to Bel Canto , however it's a pretty good story whether you like or agree with the characters or not. I did not find it completely predictable which is a plus but it did seem at times that it was going to follow a formula. I appreciated that the black characters were not sprinkled with patronizing stereotypical characteristics. If the words clarifying the race of the various characters and their thoughts about race were missin ...more
Apr 27, 2015 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
Patchett's tone is melancholic as she tells the intertwined stories of two working class parents from opposite ends of Tennessee, a black ex-drummer and bar manager in Memphis, and a white factory worker and night watchman near Oak Ridge. They never meet. In fact, Taft, the East Tennessee white guy, is dead when the story opens. We learn through flashbacks and what can only be called semi-magical realism, of his struggles to raise his two kids and the heart attack that fells him. Those kids, tee ...more
Diana H.
Aug 10, 2014 Diana H. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Ann Patchett takes her readers on a journey with every story she tells. This book is no exception.

A black, ex-musician, bar manager (Nickel) in Memphis hires a young white girl to wait table in his bar. He doesn't know anything about her background and doesn't really believe her claim to be old enough to work in a bar, but he hires her anyway.
What Nickel doesn't realize is that when he hires this young woman (Fay) he is also taking on her troubled brother, Carl. Carl comes to the bar each night
Jul 28, 2014 Nicole rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If I could have given this novel 2.5 stars I would have but instead I opted to rate it down which is unfortunate because I usually enjoy Patchett's offerings. This tells the story of John Nickel, a former drummer who is now the manager of a bar in Memphis who pines the loss of his son who is currently relocated in Memphis with his mother. The majority of the novel centers on Nickel's interactions with the various staff that work at the bar. Early on a new hire, Fay, enters the picture along with ...more
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Something Old, So...: September 2015 - Taft by Ann Patchett 2 4 Sep 20, 2015 06:18PM  
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Patchett was born in Los Angeles, California. Her mother is the novelist Jeanne Ray.

She moved to Nashville, Tennessee when she was six, where she continues to live. Patchett said she loves her home in Nashville with her doctor husband and dog. If asked if she could go any place, that place would always be home. "Home is ...the stable window that opens out into the imagination."

Patchett attended hi
More about Ann Patchett...

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