EBOOK A Summons to Memphis
I read Pulitzer winning A Summon to Memphis by Peter Taylor as part of my classic bingo card I found the concept of this novel a middle aged son returning home to prevent his widower father from remarrying to be thought provoking Taylor details the differences of life between Nashville and Memphis Tennessee creating a premise in which a family s move from one city to the other causes a family to crumble Phillip Carver is thirteen years old when his father meets financial ruin and moves his family from Nashville to Memphis Phillip and his older siblings Betsy Josephine and George consider themselves proud Nashville citizens and find the move traumatic Betsy was practically engaged to be married but upon moving has the marriage called off at the hands of their father She never falls in love again and along with Josephine is resigned to living life as a spinster a throwback to simpler times Forty years later the often sickly Mrs Carver has finally succumbed to her myriad of real and imagined illnesses Eighty one year old George Carver is considered the most sought after bachelor in Memphis and falls into the clutches of a woman young enough to be his daughter Appalled that this newcomer might inherit their heirlooms Betsy and Josephine beg Phillip to return home Such unravels a plot in which Phillip as the narrator alternates between present times and flashbacks detailing how his father in a never ending uest to constantly assert authority demands to control every picayune detail of his children s life Peter Taylor is a new author for me He was well regarded in southern writing circles having won the PenFaulkner Award for his work prior to the Pulitzer The idea that a rivalry between two cities and their distinct way of life could affect the history of a family is a novel premise Taylor employs detailed imagery to highlight the differences between the two cities and creates well developed characters each affected by the move in uniue ways Thus I found the plot and prose to be intriguing and fast reading for a work of its uality I found A Summons to Memphis to be a throwback to yesteryear when life in the south held a uaint uality absent in the hustle and bustle of northern cities This Pulitzer is as much to represent the southern literature enre as it is to Taylor s work Additionally the idea that Poetry Man grown children can determine how their elderly parents live out the final years of their lives is an issue that remains timely even thirty years after the book s publication A uality southern book where I felt as though I could be reading it on my porch in summer I rate Pulitzer winner A Summons to Memphis 45 shining stars I hoped that A Summons to Memphis would be better than I felt it was after I read it I could neverrow attached to the protagonist Phillip or his father or the two sisters The first half of the book was frankly boring rich people s problems Towards the end it ot a little interesting but not that interesting I have not read either of the runner ups for the 1987 Pulitzer Paradise by Donald Barthleme or Whites by Norman Rush so I wonder if this was just sort of an off year between 1986 Lonesome Dove and 1988 BelovedThe book is about the longterm affects on the Carver family of their move from Nashville to Memphis due to a business failure and the perceived nefariousness of the business partner of the family patriarch George This happens when the protagonist Philip is a teenager and when his two older sisters are in the middle of their debutante debuts The mother starts out as a socialite with a keen sense of humor She said once before a roomful of people that any in drink made her see double and feel single p 35 However following the move to Memphis many unalterable changes happen to the family despite George s uncanny ability to rebuild and double down on his legacy as a lawyer and adapt to Memphis life the two sisters become spinsters frozen forever in their roles as inured adolescents p 146 and have their own real estate business Philip leaves definitively for New York and Mother Minta slips into a crippling depression and dies The core of the story is about Philip coming to rips with the causes and effects of this and with the attempt by the sisters to venge themselves on their father who is driven by his yearning for otherness He aspired to an individuality that could not be accounted for by the components of his own character and his own identity He aspired to otherness than what he was by accident of birth in any sense of the phrase At some point in his maturing into manhood this yearning and this longing and this aspiring became a craving p 162Another motif that Peter Taylor addresses in the book is the difference between the old school aristocratic society that they left in Nashville and the by the bootstraps DIY community they adapt to in Memphis Never having spent time in Tennessee the subtleties were a bit lost on me but it did ive me the impression that the long and thing Dead Taboo geography of Tennessee with its mountains and farming land would indeed create conditions for varied perceptions of life on one end or the other of the long state Philip discusses his issues with his father with hisirlfriend Holly back in New York who herself is struggling with family issues as well and concludes that it seemed admirable that Father had had the courage and stamina to begin life over in early middle age But as a father it came too late as a father that is of three children like Betsy Josephine and myself p 180 In fact Holly and Philip debate whether it is better to forgive and forget or to cling to the memories No conclusion is really drawn because it was as if we were two Jews in the Temple debating some obtuse uestion of morality or perhaps two Christian Puritans two Baptists or Methodists in the backwoods of Tennessee p 181It turns out for Philip that the best way to communicate with his Father is via the phone in hashing through memories once the bugaboo of Lewis Shackleford had been moved out of the way Philip achieves a sort of inner peace And Is Able To Deal Easily With is able to deal easily with s passing I was left feeling a bit empty after finishing this short but unimpressive novel The writing was OK especially how the narrative was structured but the characters and the situations just didn t talk to me I don t know if I have the courage to attempt reading something else by this author or not Memphis BeauDo we ever et over the pain and betrayals or what we remember as BeauDo we ever et over the pain and betrayals or what we remember as pain and betrayals from childhood That s one of the themes in this uiet nuanced and beguiling novel by Peter Taylor who s best known for his short stories about enteel upper class Southerners Middle aged editor and book collector Phillip Carver has fled the languid ossipy world of Tennessee and has lived in bustling Manhattan for decades When he Having Tanner Bravos Baby (Bravo Family, gets consecutive phone calls from his two older sisters none of the three children has ever married about their widowed father who s about to wed a much younger woman he hops on a plane the next dayAnd so begins this look back at the family s history and in fact the history of a certain segment of Tennessee society an old fashioned world of debutante balls speakeasies mint juleps and yes I m afraid kindly black servants African Americans play a prominent role in many of Taylor s stories here they are in the background moving around furniture chauffeuring etc The Carver children s lives were irrevocably changed 30 years earlier when their attorney father betrayed by an untrustworthy business partner uprooted them and moved from Nashville to Memphis One sister had toive up an engagement Philip was forever torn from an adolescent love and the children s mother dead a couple of #years before the book begins had to leave #before the book begins had to leave all that was familiar and start anewThe story unfolds leisurely Taylor s prose the euivalent of a man dressed in a seersucker suit and bowtie ently rocking on his chair on a porch pausing to sip from a cool drink before he moves on This book is all about atmosphere The clothes people wear Littl. One of the most celebrated novels of its time the Pulitzer Prize winner A Summons to Memphis introduces the Carver family natives of Nashville residents with the exception of Phillip of Memphis TennesseeDuring the twilight of a Sunday afternoon in March New York book editor Phillip Carver receives an urgent phone call from each of his older .
Peter Taylor ☆ 7 READS octogenarian father s desire to remarry and his older sisters determination to thwart him Phillip meanwhile is still obsessed with the belief that his father s decision to move the family from Nashville to Memphis forty years earlier blighted all of their livesI think the key to appreciating the subtlety of this novel is to realize that even though the narrator considers himself to be superior to his provincial family he is narrow selfish and capable of only a limited range of emotions Although he achieves some rowth by the end of the book he is still a cold cautious person trapped in the past and destined to remain so Taylor artfully reveals his narrator s limitations as the novel progresses particularly in the way the narrative voice obsessively circles around the few events in the story refining embellishing and distancing us and himself from the emotional truth of his tale Peter Taylor s Pulitzer Prize winning A Summons to Memphis is an extraordinary piece of literary fictionThe narrator is Phillip Carver a 49 year old man living in New York City working as an editor and rare books dealer in the mid 1960s The drama begins when Phillip receives separate telephone calls from his sisters Betsy and Josephine complaining that their 81 year old father has the unthinkable and disgraceful notion to remarry The crux of the story however is the family s historyThe Carver family is native of Nashville except the patriarch George who was born in a rural West Tennessee town but attended the prestigious Vanderbilt University and became a respected Nashville lawyer The family leads an ideal life until George Carver is compelled to uproot the family and move to Memphis in order to protect his reputation due to his association with a former friend the unsavory Mr Lewis Shakleford The 1931 move is pivotal to the trajectory of the lives of each member of the familyAfter the family relocates it seems that the father is the only one to benefit even though he always seems nostalgic and reflects on the superiority of Nashville The teenage daughters are not allowed to be presented in Memphis and are denied the opportunity to find acceptable suitors The sisters maturity practically halts at this stage in their lives Phillip is the tender age of 13 and handles the move poorly The other brother Georgie eventually runs off to fight in the war The mother declines physically and mentally Having lived most of my life in Middle Tennessee except for the decade I lived in Memphis the most interesting part of the novel for me is the contrasting of the cities of Nashville and Memphis Even though the two cities are separated by a mere 220 miles for George it may as well have been a million miles George views Nashville as a city of schools and churches fox hunts and horse shows while Memphis is a place of steamboats and card playing a less refined society Taylor cites some interesting accounts in Tennessee history and The Billionaires Runaway Bride geography Another interesting dynamic is the role that our hometowns play in our lives Phillip comes off as pretentious He is condescending in his attitude toward Memphis lifestyles culture and fashion While describing his friend Alex he comments on his provincial Memphis love for a simple truth Ultimately when Phillip returns to Memphis he feels suffocatedTaylor s work is a wonderful look at the complex nature of family The reader is left contemplating the motives of the family members Do they meddle in each other s lives out of love or selfishness or retribution Do we ever really know the people with whom we have the closest relations What is the role of society s expectations Do we ever really mature or are we always trapped in the familial roles we occupyI am not sure that Taylor s style will appeal to everyone but needless to say I thoroughly enjoyed itMemorable uotesBut maybe it was only that Father was thinking that he must arrive in Memphis with the entire family household intact if he was to make a newo of thingsHe did enter so and perhaps that is what sustained him in the years immediately afterward sustained him and in some degree destroyed the rest of usMy own view of Father was not nearly so high flown or complicated For me he was flesh and blood and until the day I left Memphis behind to take up residence in Manhattan he remained simply a barrier between me and any independent life I might aspire to a barrier to any pursuit of ideas interests Fifty Ways To Be Your Lover goals that my temperamentuided me towardForgetting the injustices and seeming injustices which one suffered from one s parents during childhood and youth must be the major part of any maturing process Philip Carter is approaching the age of fifty Within an hour he Caught on Camera with the CEO gets calls from his two older sisters He is told he mustet himself to Memphis the very next day Their eighty one year old widowed father intends on marrying They need his help to stop this So unfolds the storyPhilip is an antiue book collector residing in New York City with his Wyoming Strong (Wyoming Men, girlfriend Holly From the plethora of detailsiven I calculate this happens in 1967 Philip is himself telling us of what happened recounting also past events the family s move from Nashville to Memphis in 1931 when he was thirteen his first and later attractions to different irls and his assignments during the Second World War The story revolves around family relationships When their father is betrayed by a close business associate and friend everything absolutely everything in the family is alteredI repeat the book is about family relationships It is about the strength and importance of these relationships It is also about what is involved in the process of becoming mature the process of freeing one s self from a parent s all encompassing controlling rip #How Should We How #should we how we ultimately attain independence This being a situation we must all sooner or later deal with the central theme of the book is something most of us will relate too Nevertheless the book ave me problems I will explain whyFirst of all we are being t o l d by Philip what happened in his family The reader does not live the events firsthandSecondly the story begins by emphasizing the differences between Memphis and Nashville society I was intrigued my interest was piued I knew nothing about such regional distinctions between these two Southern communities The my interest was piued I knew nothing about such regional distinctions between these two Southern communities The putters out loses steam no real conclusion can be drawnThirdly I simply could not relate to the choices made by the book s characters I could understand their emotions but what they do ives me trouble Lousy things do happen You Wild Nights with Her Wicked Boss gripe you complain you let off some steam but then you pick yourself up ando on The author fails to create a believable scenario of events Philip s older brother makes a choice but it is only briefly skimmed over not covered with depth The behavior of Philip s two sisters is beyond my comprehension I do not find it believable that view spoilerthe two sisters ive up their independence and freedom to install themselves as their father s jailers hide spoiler This is really a very strong 45 ratingI read this book many years ago but remember nothing of the story at all I only remember that I loved it but obviously not why It may be that it was a completely different book to the much younger Diane it was a completely different book to the much younger Diane any case here s what I think of it nowThe title is brilliant because of the many different connotations of the word summons Phillip is summoned to Memphis from NY by his sisters when their 81 year old widowed father wants to re marry The family had been summoned to Memphis by that same father when he moved the family there from Nashville thirty years prior to the se Winner of the 1987 Pulitzer PrizeA wonderful read and now I ve ot another one for my 6 star shelf There are few classic novels that I know of that are written about aging parents and in this case the narrator Philip is not enad of his aging father either There is well placed irony and some doses of wry humor within the pages This story takes place in the 1970 s but there are numerous scenes of reflection Always You going all the way back to the 1930. Ng patriarch and flood of memories from his troubled pastPeter Taylor is one of the masters of Southern literature whose work stands in the company of Eudora Welty James Agee and Walker Percy In A Summons to Memphis he has composed a richly evocative story of revenge resolution and redemption andiven us a classic work of American literature. ,
E resentments that o unaddressed for a lifetimeI think this short novel which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1986 is best read in a day or two I put it down for a couple of weeks and when I picked it up again had to reorient myself Names and details had faded from memory like morning mist evaporating when the sun comes outIt s a book that really needs to be read after one s lived a certain number of years Anyone with older parents will relate to its complexities Consider a passage like this Forgetting the injustices and seeming injustices which one suffered from one s parents during childhood and youth must be the major part of any maturing process I kept repeating this to myself as though it were a lesson I would at some future time be accountable for A certain oblivion was what we must undergo in order to become adults and live peacefully with ourselvesHow wise and true Taylor s prose apart from a few repetitions the word Presently is overused can be miraculous There s a scene when the narrator arrives at an airport and his father is waiting for him not indoors but out on the tarmac that is so startling yet beautiful it took me aback I m not sure I ll forget that image and the bittersweet resolution to the scene for a long timeThe book overall I don t think I ll remember the plot s meagre details but the wistful elegiac mood will stay with me I need to o back to Taylor s stories His books are hard to find but they re worth seeking out in libraries or appropriate in this case second hand bookstores Better known for his short stories Peter Taylor pulled out all the stops with A Summons to Memphis winning the National Book Critics Award in 1986 and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1987 Taylor born in 1917 to a wealthy Nashville family obviously wrote what he knewGeorge Carver is a well known Nashville Lawyer However his origins are of a humble nature Carver s roots were in Thorne County outside Memphis a member of the planter class whose wealth was based on slavery cotton and agricultureAs the story unfolds it is the era of the Great Depression Carver is the husband of a Virginia debutante who fits well into Nashville Society His two daughters have both come out in successive debutante balls Beverly the eldest child landed a doctor and they are engaged Jo the younger daughter hasn t landed the appropriate mate but prospects are ood George and Phillip the two sons originally appear as part of the backgroundThe concept of Southern Honor lies at the core of George Carver s system of belief When a younger colleague swindles Carver and the company s stockholders out of a fortune rather than confront his business partner Carver chooses to close his Nashville practice and move his family to MemphisIn this day a move from Nashville to Memphis doesn t seem to have much significance However during the 1930s in Tennessee Nashville was the social and cultural center of the state Memphis was a river and cotton town It s society was considered a definite step down in class and culture Knoxville and Chattanooga were not mentioned in the same breath as NashvilleFast forward thirty years which is the true beginning of Taylor s story Phillip served his time during World War II He established his home in New York a bibliophile dealing in rare and antiue books Georgie the Patriarch s namesake managed to et himself killed at the beginning of the D Day campaign effectively removing himself from a family in which he cared for no partIn the interim the Carter Sisters have made a name for themselves in Memphis Society Neither has married their father having sabotaged their chances at marriage on his perception of those ties being related to the man who betrayed him Beverly and Jo are those wild irls from Nashville who invent scandalous reputations for themselves clearly as revenge upon their father who valued his reputation so highlyThe summons to Memphis is made by the Carver sisters to remaining brother Phillip to prevent the impending marriage of their 81 year old father to a younger woman named Clara Starkville After all a sizable family fortune has been accumulated during those Knoxville years no matter what was lost as a result of the scandal in Nashville Does Phillip want to see their father make a fool of himselfPhillip would rather avoid his summons to Memphis However his relationship with his live in is on the skids They re in the midst of a trial separation So Phillip dutifully oesGeorge Carver has not been an easy father to love He has made decisions which he felt were in the best interests of his wife and children even at the cost their happiness There is serious uestion as to whether his decisions were based on his children s best interests or the preservation of his own reputationA Summons to Memphis is a story the preservation of his own reputationA Summons to Memphis is a story family forgiveness recognition and reconciliation It is also a powerful tale of how children reverse the role of control from parent to self The uestion for each family ultimately is whether natural human emotions will hold sway over forgiveness and the possibility of redemptionOften referred to as Jamesian in his writing I would have to disagree Taylor s prose flows easily and with a rare simple beauty This novel is Eudora Welty s The Optimist s Daughter with an edge Taylor s writing is much reminiscent of the novels and stories of Eudora Welty and Walker Percy 1986 must have been a singularly awful year for literature because the book that won the Pulitzer that year would have struggled during the years when Taylor most of whose work was released during the forties was in his salad daysThis is not to say A Summons to Memphis Taylor s first novel in forty years is a bad book It s a decent book a nice book And that s exactly why it doesn t deserve one of the highest honors that can be conferred on a novel It s nice What s so One-Click Buy great about niceWhen one thinks of Southern writers and Southern writing names come to mind Faulkner McCullers Dickey from Taylor seneration Lee Smith Barry Hannah from the Redeeming Claire generation after And whther it s valid and warranted or not Southern writing has become aenre in itself where the Return to Willow Lake (Lakeshore Chronicles gentility of Southern life is a veneer for the corruption beneath A few novels have broken out of this mold successfully but not many and they ve usually done it by having the corruption somehwere else A Summons to Memphis on the other hand just kind of sits there being nicePhillip Carver one breathes a sigh of relief that no one in the family is named Raymond is the sixtyish son of a man who plans to remarry Remarrying in old Southern families is frowned upon especially when one is in one s eighties We careen from present where the rest of the family attempts to stop dad from remarrying and Phillip is attempting to hold his own relationship together to past where Phillipradually reveals things about the family s past life and back again learning the story of the family s disgrace in Nashville and their subseuent move to Memphis During those times the book takes on a kind of comedy of manners uality and would probably have worked had it remained so it might also have worked in the various places where one member of the family spoils the romantic efforts of another member of the family this happens a number of the family spoils the romantic efforts of another member of the family this happens a number times throughout the book as a kind of Shakespearean tragedy attempting to combine the two makes them cancel one another out and the reader is left with a kind of detached amusementIt s well written and Taylor s writing style is as Fractured Memory good as it was when he was the South s most celebrated short story writer Problem is it s aood style for short stories and it doesn t hold #up over two hundred twenty five pages smack #over two hundred twenty five pages Smack Pulitzer committee in the head and Case for Seduction (The Hamiltons: Laws of Love go on to the next book A brief leisurely novel written by a master of the short story A Summons to Memphis is an excellent example of what Henry James referred to as the beautiful and blessed nouvelle The narrator Phillip a New York City book editor is the son of imposing Memphis lawyer George Carver Phillip returns home when the family is disrupted by hi. Nmarried sisters They plead with Phillip to help avert their widower father's impending remarriage to a younger woman Hesitant toet embroiled in a family drama he reluctantly agrees to o back south only to discover the true motivation behind his sisters' concern While there Phillip is forced to confront his domineering siblings a controlli. ,