The Tidewater Tales

The Tidewater Tales

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by John Barth, Mary Johnston
     
 

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"Tell me a story..." Katherine Shorter Sherritt Sagamore, 8 1/2 months pregnant, is a blue-blooded library scientist and founding mother of the American Society for the Preservation of Storytelling. Her husband Peter, 8 1/2 months nervous, is a blue-collar storyteller with a penchant for brevity. Sailing in the Chesapeake Bay, they tell each other tales to break

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Overview

"Tell me a story..." Katherine Shorter Sherritt Sagamore, 8 1/2 months pregnant, is a blue-blooded library scientist and founding mother of the American Society for the Preservation of Storytelling. Her husband Peter, 8 1/2 months nervous, is a blue-collar storyteller with a penchant for brevity. Sailing in the Chesapeake Bay, they tell each other tales to break the writer's block handed Peter by his Muse, to ease the weight of Katherine's pregnancy, to entertain, and to enlighten. Along with their stories, we learn of the Bay itself—past and present. The beloved Chesapeake, where young Peter once indulged his Huck Finn fantasy, is in danger of becoming what he dubs a moral cesspool; where nature is in a losing struggle with man; where the hallowed Deniston School for Girls is being pressured by the CIA to sell land to the Soviet embassy; and where the old Sagamore homestead might or might not be the newest espionage station on the shoreline.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Post Book World

Charting ever more daring fictional waters, John Barth here sets sail on a huge voyage of a book—part myth, part fantasy, part history, part sheer exuberant wordplay.

New York Times Book Review - William Pritchard

What is so moving about The Tidewater Tales is its frequent and frequently incidental richness as a love story—marital, filial, domestic—and also in its love of a place, of a country, even as place and country are scarred by depredation.The newest edition of the most complete introduction to the vital security issues facing the United States returns to the book's classic organizational format.

Times Literary Supplement - Jonathan Raban

The Tidewater Tales takes the form of a narrative encyclopedia, a pre-natal crash course in the politics, social life, literature, history, and mythology of late-twentieth century America... It sits... on the map of modern American fiction as a gigantic memorable construction.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In Barth's work since The Sot-Weed Factor, fiction itselfstorytelling as a way of experiencing and rendering the worldclaims the center of attention. Even the sloop in which the principal characters of the current novel drift in the noxious waters of Chesapeake Bay is called Story. Peter Sagamore, a university professor of the Art of Everdiminishing Fiction, is a writer; Katherine is his immensely pregnant wife and, in the fullness of time, mother of twins. What ``happens'' isn't the point: manner is everything; playfulness is given free rein; and Barth brings commensurate resources of imaginative energy and invention to his huge, volatile, hyperkinetic novel, which draws on classical and other exotic storehouses of story. For all the exuberance driving this narrative flood, some readers will be oppressed by the flash, pop and sparkle, and some will devoutly wish for the return of everyday realism. That sly, elliptical, bumptious fictioneer Peter Sagamore would neither expect nor desire anything else. (June 22)
Library Journal
Peter Sagamore, novelist, has come down with a bad case of minimalism. Ruthless self-editing leaves him with works only a few words in length, and no readers. His wife is a ``maximalist'' oral historian with an MLS. In June 1980 they spend two weeks sailing around Chesapeake Bay in their boat Story, telling stories. The result is familiar Barthean fare: ``lost episodes'' of the Odyssey, the Arabian Nights, and Don Quixote interspersed with lectures on Maryland history, the CIA, and toxic waste. (Librarians will wince at the incoherent review of cataloging procedures on Day 5.) A strong addition to the Barth canon, Tidewater Tales is probably the only piece of experimental fiction that can double as summer beach reading. An essential purchase for all collections of contemporary literature. Edward B. St. John, Loyola Marymount Univ. Lib., Los Angeles
Jonathan Raban
"The Tidewater Tales takes the form of a narrative encyclopedia, a prenatual crash course in the politics, social life, literature, history and mythology of late 20-century America...it sits...on the map of modern American fiction as a gigantic memorable construction." -- Times Literary Supplement

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801855566
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
02/15/1997
Series:
Maryland Paperback Bookshelf Series
Pages:
660
Product dimensions:
6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 1.33(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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