Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.



3.4 11
by Ann Patchett

See All Formats & Editions

John Nickel is a black ex-jazz musician who only wants to be a good father. But when his son is taken away from him, he's left with nothing but the Memphis bar he manages. Then he hires Fay, a young white waitress, who has a volatile brother named Carl in tow. Nickel finds himself consumed with the idea of Taft, Fay and Carl's dead father, and begins to


John Nickel is a black ex-jazz musician who only wants to be a good father. But when his son is taken away from him, he's left with nothing but the Memphis bar he manages. Then he hires Fay, a young white waitress, who has a volatile brother named Carl in tow. Nickel finds himself consumed with the idea of Taft, Fay and Carl's dead father, and begins to reconstruct the life of a man he never met. But his sympathies for these lost souls soon take him down a twisting path into the lives of strangers. . . .

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Following her well-received debut, The Patron Saint of Liars , Patchett convincingly portrays a bar manager's conflicted feelings for a teenage waitress in this tale of fatherhood and unfulfilled dreams. Narrator John Nickel runs a bar called Muddy's on Memphis's Beale Street. He took the job to help provide for his lover, Marion, and their 10-year-old son, Franklin, who have since moved away, leaving him concerned that the boy lacks paternal guidance. When 17-year-old Fay Taft shows up at Muddy's, lies about her age and asks for a job, Nickel is touched by her neediness and hires her. But he doesn't bargain on her growing desire for him, or on her drug-dealer brother, who brings sleazy clients to the bar. Another complication is the issue of race--Fay is white, Nickel black--but the author concentrates on the color-blind moral problems that any family faces. As Nickel contemplates his own predicaments, he imagines scenes of the Tafts in a stable home before their father died. His sincere sense of responsibility--to his son, to Fay, even to Fay's no-good brother--is conveyed with visceral power, although the hard-boiled dialogue often resembles parody. Patchett's characters may include tough cookies with hearts of gold, but the novel is at its best when she mutes the melodrama and focuses on basic moral issues. (Oct.)
Library Journal
This second novel from the author of the well-received The Patron Saint of Liars (LJ 4/1/92) is narrated by John Nickel, an ex-drummer who manages a Memphis bar that is a sort of anti-Cheers. He is also African American, a fact you can soon forget. For one thing, in Patchett's Tennessee, everyone, regardless of age, race, sex, class, or locale, speaks nearly the same flat language. John is obsessed with his young son, who has moved to Miami with John's ex-girlfriend, and his longing for the child is the pivotal and most convincing aspect of the novel. In the meantime, 18-year-old Faye Taft enters the bar and John's life, with her drug-addicted brother in tow. They're running from a family destroyed by their father's sudden death. Strangely, John starts imagining the Taft family before the death in passages that are vividly realized yet so disassociated from the narrator that you begin to wonder if he is receiving ESP transmissions. Patchett is a fine writer, but here we are most aware of her ideas for the novel-the fiction itself rarely takes off. For large public library collections.-Brian Kenney, Brooklyn P.L.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.26(w) x 8.16(h) x 0.62(d)

Read an Excerpt

I had such a wave of sickness come over me that I thought I was going to throw up, but by the time I walked into the bathroom it had calmed some and I poured myself a glass of water from the tap and went back to the bed. Four in the morning. I held my eyes open to keep from seeing the part where he was falling.

Then for no reason at all I thought of that girl Fay. I didn't know where she lived. I didn't have her phone number so I could call her and tell her that she couldn't have the job, if I was to decide not to give it to her. I couldn't call to find out if she was okay if I was to go in tomorrow and not find her. It wasn't that I wanted to think about her, but by seeing her face I could make myself not see Franklin's, so I thought about her. I could barely fix her in my mind, the thin skin on her temples, the red that the cold put on her cheeks. I couldn't remember the color of her eyes or if her straight hair that wasn't blond or brown was cut into bangs the way so many girls her age like to wear their hair these days. I wondered where in the east she came from. I wondered who was looking out for her. Who made her that ugly hat. I remembered how careful she was when it came time for her to cross the street and it made me feel comforted. Someone taught her what to watch for. But then, they didn't teach her well enough if she was wandering down to Beale looking for work in bars. There was no watching them every minute, Marion. We can't be everywhere. What are you going to do but teach them to look?

Meet the Author

ANN PATCHETT is the author of six novels, including Bel Canto, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize. She has written for the Atlantic, Gourmet, the New York Times Magazine, Vogue, the Washington Post, and others.

Brief Biography

Nashville, Tennessee
Date of Birth:
December 2, 1963
Place of Birth:
Los Angeles, California
B.A., Sarah Lawrence College, 1985; M.F.A., University of Iowa, 1987

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Taft 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Cheryl Dykstra More than 1 year ago
A great, albeit incomplete, read. The e-book version abruptly stops approximately half way through, which is incredibly frustrating when you find yourself caught up in the story and are aching to know what happens next. After calling and emailing Barnes & Noble multiple times, and making a personal visit to my local Barnes & Noble months ago (who confirmed half of the e-book version was indeed missing and could not be downloaded), I am still waiting for the rest of the story or a refund so I can at least purchase the paperback and see how it ends. Barnes & Noble proved most unconcerned and unhelpful. You may do better with a Kindle.
Lollypop99 More than 1 year ago
Now that I have completely read all of Ann Patchett's novels, I would have to say that "Taft" was my favorite. I wish I had read it first. Excellent book, I do not want to give the story away, but as in all her novels you will become lost in the characters and wonder what took you so long to get to her books. She takes me away every time, and at least for a time, I get lost in her world. . .it's better than meditation.
Spring-reader More than 1 year ago
I loved Bel Canto, Run,and The Magician's Assistant so when I saw this recently I decided to give it a try. I was surprised to find that this book was written before the other more successful books and according to the author did not do as well, in part because of the title making it confusing. I found the characters to be original, likeable and easy to believe. I especially loved how the relationship between John and Faye is developed alongside the historical relationship between John and Marion. It helps to give both relationships so much more perspective and depth. I think character and relationship developments and the ease with which this author takes you through them and helps you to connect with them is why I love to read her work. I will be reading anything she writes in the future.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that this was an excellent book. It was captivating and meaningful. It questioned interesting concepts about life and love. It was deeply moving and interesting. The characters were so well developed that reading the book made you feel like you knew them. They were realistic and allowed you to relate to them.The plot was original and the descriptions and writing style was vividly beautiful. I recomend this book to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story is nice, but I since I cannot finish reading the book after page 186, I guess I will never know the outcome. And, customer service was dreadful about fixing the problem. You are on your own, and no offer of refund or apologies for inconvenience or frustration. Love Ann Patchett. Right now, hate B & N
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sunnyo More than 1 year ago
The characters John Nichel and Marian's parents made the book entertaining with a realistic quality. In general my readers' group were not thrilled with the book.