Owen's Reviews > A Summons to Memphis

A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor
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's review
Mar 30, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: barthelme-syllabus, 2008
Read in March, 2008

Recommended from the Barthelme syllabus, A Summons to Memphis is an excellent book mostly about life in the early- to mid-20th century South. Reviewers who automatically equate Taylor with Faulkner have likely read neither. The main character's father, a recent widower, is considering remarriage. This man's daughters, fearing the loss of their inheritance, ask the main character to come back from Manhattan to convince his father against remarriage. Much time is spent remembering the family's disgraced move from Nashville to Memphis, which perhaps seems trivial for outsiders, but makes perfect sense for Tennesseans. Personal context heightened this book for me, both as a Tennessean and someone whose family is going through a similar discussion over the pater familias. Taylor is a terrific writer with distinguished but unflowery prose; I didn't realize until later that this won the 1987 Pulitzer, deservedly so. I'll definitely keep an eye out for his collection of short stories.

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message 1: by Jen (new)

Jen I picked up In the Tennessee Country, also by Taylor, at Housing Works a while back, and I chose it mainly because of home associations. I'd never heard of him. Excited to compare notes on how we like him.

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