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3.42  ·  Rating details ·  4,367 Ratings  ·  422 Reviews
Best-selling novelist Ann Patchett's second, "strikingly original" novel about a middle-aged black man who runs a blues club in Memphis.
ebook, 320 pages
Published March 30th 2011 by Mariner Books (first published October 1st 1994)
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Jun 03, 2012 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
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 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 04, 2014 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
Riva Sciuto
There's a reason this novel hasn't received the acclaim of Patchett's other masterpieces (Bel Canto, State of Wonder, Patron Saint of Liars, and most recent, Commonwealth). This book lacks the gravitas for which Ann Patchett is so well known -- particularly when it comes to her ability to evoke emotional reactions to characters and their (often complicated) lives. The story just isn't compelling. The plot drags. And the lackluster prose doesn't even compare to her other work. Read something else ...more
Aug 31, 2009 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.
Oct 11, 2015 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.
Jul 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Ann Patchett's writing is beautiful. I liked the focus on fathers and their children. The race issue is handled sensitively. The tension between eastern, rural Tennessee and urban Memphis is also well brought out. There were a few characters I'd like more fully drawn, nonetheless I enjoyed the book very much.
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
Jan 19, 2010 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
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
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you Ann Patchett for introducing me to John Nichol, an ex-jazz drummer now manager of a blues bar in Memphis. John is a wonderful, intricately drawn character. A loving father to his now 9 year old son, John is struggling to come to terms with the boy's mother having taken him away to Miami.. The whole novel is told from John's point of view. We come to know him well, how purely good his soul is. No, John is not perfect and he's the first to recognize that but he is pure of heart, trusting ...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
"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 22, 2016 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
Aug 26, 2011 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 08, 2012 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
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.
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book more, as I really like most Ann Patchett novels. However, it never took off for me. I kept picturing her thinking as an author, "I need to explore black fatherhood! I need to explore racism from a black perspective! I guess I'd better add in a small bit about poor white fatherhood!" But, perhaps because those are not exactly her own perspectives, the novel felt distanced and dreamy. The main character's ambitions and love interests never really seemed real, but more ju ...more
Jeri Duerr
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ann Patchett has never disappointed me. Although Taft is one of her earlier works, and lacks some of her polished writing, it has the elements of her later books that I like - complex characters, a slow to develop story, and an unexpected ending, well, somewhat unexpected. As the story developed, each of the characters was searching for something more in their life - better relationships, a more productive life or peace of mind. At the conclusion of the book, I could infer that some issues were ...more
Kathie Kelly
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I enjoyed this book, it is undoubtedly a strange book and I'm still not sure exactly what this book said. I had to actually stop reading from time to time because I was becoming a bit distraught at what I thought were situations John Nickel put himself into that could only end badly. I found myself actually saying "No, don't do that" in my head! I had to keep reminding myself this was "just a book" and not reality. I am looking forward to reading a few reviews of this book to see what othe ...more
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't get enough of Ann Patchett's writing! This is one of her earlier works but still shows her beautiful writing. Nothing fancy, just a beautiful story told beautifully. This is the story of two Tennessee fathers. One white and one black. One from the city and one from the country. How they love their children and the mistakes they make as father is the centre of this novel. The fact that Ann Pachett is a woman writing strong loving male characters is just a bonus. Great read.
Jul 31, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Patchett is a clean stylist. No wasted words here. She steps out of the way of her characters and makes the point of view as told from Nickels feel true and right. But, this book irritates me. Themes of lost dreams (no more drums) never finish. Loves never get off the ground except for the love Nickels has for his son. However, maybe reading a book about more mercy than justice made up for a truly incomplete ending.
Megan Craig
Maybe I didn't get this one. Depressing, minimalistic in terms of words, and I didn't relate to the characters. Maybe I like pretty, happy, magical, verbose books too much. It seemed like it was supposed to feel profound, but what profound thing was I supposed to get out of it? The sad, fleeting nature of life? The influence of good/bad fathers? I get it, but I don't GET it, you know? Didn't break my faith in Patchett though.
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So as I was reading this I kept thinking 'I like this but I'm not sure why'. By the end I had figured it out. It was the characters. I liked all of them. Even the flawed ones. I am desperate for this to be made into a movie, as I want to see the characters brought to life. The only reason I didn't give it a 5 is that 5s are reserved for books that have a major impact on me. This did not, but it was a great read and I would recommend
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ann Patchett is a talented author. The strong characters were well-developed and interesting. John Nickel, the main character, was a caring devoted father, and a very likeable character. The ending was abrupt and left me wondering what happened to everyone. This was a "couldn't put it down" book for me.
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As an unabashed Patchett fan this review might be biased, but I loved it so much I don't even care. If you pick up this book DO NOT read the synopsis on the back as my edition had too many spoilers. This is a story best read with surprises intact. Also, if the flashbacks don't gel for you, trust me. By the ending, they will
May 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fay Taft seems so fragile and innocent when at 17 she walks into John Nickel's bar in Memphis looking for work. As John takes her on at the bar trying to do the right thing he becomes to regret his actions as the baggage of her brother and the weight of their father's death pulls him in for more than he bargained for.
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ann Patchett's writing is as strong as always in this novel, but I felt that the story was a bit lacking. Would have given it a 3.5 if that was an option, but since her prose style is so good I decided to go with 4.
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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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