From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Summons to Memphis, here is a haunting collection of fiction--including a novella, ten stories, and three one-act plays--that examines lost love, retribution, second chances, human perversity, and ghosts.From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Summons to Memphis, here is a haunting collection of fiction--including a novella, ten stories, and three one-act plays--that examines lost love, retribution, second chances, human perversity, and ghosts.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 1992-12-28 Familiar in their settings (mainly rural Tennessee of past decades), yet surprising because of the prevalence of characters who are ghosts and spirits (or those who see them), the 11 short stories and three one-act plays in this collection are vintage Taylor (A Summons to Memphis) . All are related in Taylor's deliberate, gracefully nuanced, old-fashioned (in the best sense) prose. Few yield their meanings easily; quiet and generally devoid of drama, their effect is that of a slow dawning of understanding rather than a sudden epiphany. Many of them are narrated by men who look back across a time chasm to an era of genteel Southern manners and morals that changed irrevocably after WW I. The titles themselves indicate the mood of these tales; in addition to the ``oracle'' of the title story, ``Demons,'' ``Nerves'' ``The Witch of Owl Mt. Springs'' and ``The Real Ghost'' are stories in which Taylor distinctively blends the supernatural with the everyday. He uses this material so matter-of-factly that one never questions its validity. Curiously, however, the ghostly characters in the plays have a stronger pull on our emotions than do those characters in the stories who deal with spirits. Taylor uses spiritualism to indicate the essential puzzle of human existence. Even in the tales in which no spirits appear, facts remain in doubt. In ``Cousin Aubrey,'' about a man who disappears and changes his life, the narrator says he likes stories ``that end in a tantalyzing mystery.'' As Taylor draws psychological portraits of his seemingly ordinary characters, he illuminates their ``tantalyzing mysteries'' and the dark wellsprings of behavior. (Feb.)
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