Gerald O'Connor's Reviews > The Death of Tarpons

The Death of Tarpons by Les Edgerton
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Nov 11, 2016

it was amazing

The Death of Tarpons by Les Edgerton is a coming-of-age book set in Freeport, Texas in 1955. It tells the story of Corey John, who, on facing his own death, returns to his hometown and recounts the harrowing days of a pivotal summer in his life when he was fourteen years of age. I read this story in one four-hour sitting, and, as a fan of Mark Twain, found it absurdly enjoyable for the similar tone and styles Edgerton employs. The voice is almost autobiographical, and the prose is evocative and rich without ever being stilted. The story itself appears simple at first, but the minute I read a few pages I was drawn in by the character of young Corey and the world and times of the setting.

Corey John lives in a house where his mother is slowly losing her mind to religion and his father physically abuses him. Despite this, Corey is desperate for his father’s love, and dreams of doing anything to become the man his father wishes he were. There’s such an obvious mismatch between father and son, and the conflict that arises from this is both brutal and painful to read. Every time the young boy attempts to please his father something happens to drive them further apart, and the violence that erupts is vicious at times. Even though the logic and worlds of Corey and his father are completely incompatible, you always have this hankering for them to unite. This constant push-and-pull created a tug of war in my head. The way Edgerton wrote this, I couldn’t help but side with both the kid and dad at various times, and as such it made for an uncomfortable read. But this is no negative. Certainly not. It is what makes it so sweet. The story pulls no punches, showing parents and kids as real people with a bit of good and bad in them and all the bits in between. Edgerton presents the world as it is without any of that saccharin sweetness that seems to pervade literature and film these days.

The structure of the book is also worth noting. The first and last chapters are set in present day, book-ending the main story-line to create a very satisfying conclusion. By setting the book up in this manner, the tale of fourteen-year-old Corey appears to be no more than a fleeting thought in the older man’s mind. And yet we get to spend time in Freeport with the Texas sun and Jax Beer and Corey and his friend Destin and their maid Inez and it all feels wonderfully real.

In the end, The Death of Tarpons is about a boy on the cusp of manhood, finding redemption and strength in himself amidst a world full of violence and good. It may be set in older times, but it’s relevance is timeless. For all these reasons, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend it to all.
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Reading Progress

November 11, 2016 – Started Reading
November 11, 2016 – Shelved
November 11, 2016 – Finished Reading

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