A Tidewater Morning: Three Tales from Youth

Overview

In this brilliant collection of "long short stories, " the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Sophie's Choice returns to the coastal Virginia setting of his first novels. Through the eyes of a man recollecting three episodes from his youth, William Styron explores with new eloquence death, loss, war, and racism.

In this brilliant collection of "long short stories, " the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Sophie's Choice returns to the coastal Virginia setting of his ...

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Overview

In this brilliant collection of "long short stories, " the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Sophie's Choice returns to the coastal Virginia setting of his first novels. Through the eyes of a man recollecting three episodes from his youth, William Styron explores with new eloquence death, loss, war, and racism.

In this brilliant collection of "long short stories, " the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Sophie's Choice returns to the coastal Virginia setting of his first novels. Through the eyes of a man recollecting three episodes from his youth, William Styron explores with new eloquence death, loss, war, and racism.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The publisher bills this as Styron's first book of fiction in more than a decade. Sophie's Choice was published in 1979--but that is misleading: the most recent of these three Esquire stories collected here was published in 1987, and the other two appeared in 1978 and 1985. As one would expect, there are patches of startling writing here, particularly in the title story, in which Styron's evocation of the Virginia landscape of his youth is achingly beautiful. But on the evidence of these unremarkable pieces, Styron does not seem to be a natural short-story writer; his lush prose needs the breathing room of a long novel, space enough for his narrative to gather momentum before lifting off. The three tales are united by their single narrator, one Paul Whitehurst, and his search for ``light refracted within a flashing moment of remembered childhood.'' They take up the issues Styron has grappled with in previous fiction--the legacy of slavery and racism in the South, the constricting ties of family relationships, the tragedy of war--but with neither a refreshing new perspective nor the tremendous oratorical potency that Styron's readers expect from him. This is well-crafted magazine fiction that is satisfying only for as long as it lasts. Sept.
Library Journal
In each of these three stories, which orignally appeared in Esquire magazine in the Seventies and Eighties, narrator Paul Whitehurst recalls significant episodes from his childhood in Virginia during the Depression and the Second World War. In ``Love Day,'' Paul remembers his father's analysis of the economic benefits the war has brought to the South, as he himself sails to Japan with the invasion fleet. In ``Shadrach,'' a dying former slave returns to the rundown plantation where he was born. In the title story, Paul commemorates his mother's agonizing death from cancer. The narratives, as Styron says in a preface, ``reflect the experiences of the author,'' as well as recapitulate, in luminous prose, most of the major themes of his longer fiction, from Set This House on Fire 1951 to Sophie's Choice 1981. For all its brevity, this collection is arguably the best single-volume introduction to this important author. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/93.-- Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679754497
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/1994
  • Series: Vintage International Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 403,869
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 8.01 (h) x 0.42 (d)

Meet the Author

William Styron
William Styron
Whether fictionalizing a slave uprising in The Confessions of Nat Turner or breaking the silence on clinical depression, William Styron's work inspired not only accolades but national dialogues.

Biography

One of the great writers of the generation succeeding that of Hemingway and Faulkner, William Styron is renowned for the elegance of his prose and his powerful moral engagement. His books include Lie Down in Darkness, The Long March, The Confessions of Nat Turner, Sophie's Choice, This Quiet Dust, and Darkness Visible. He has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the American Book Award, the Howells Medal, and the Edward MacDowell Medal.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

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    1. Also Known As:
      William Clark Styron Jr. (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Roxbury, Connecticut, and Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 11, 1925
    2. Place of Birth:
      Newport News, Virginia
    1. Date of Death:
      November 1, 2006
    2. Place of Death:
      Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2004

    Maybe the last from one of America's greatest authors

    I wrote my Master's thesis on William Styron, but it was a few years before I embarked on that scholarly journey that I discovered quickly how extraordinary and poetic a writer William Styron can be. This novella, a collection of three stories that deftly and near-horrifyingly touch on that central concern of Southern American literature - what is the human condition? - is short, and maddeningly precise: there are grand and terrifying ideas Styron approaches through memorable characters such as Shadrach, the 100-year-old former slave who walks hundreds of miles back to the plantation of his enslavement to die, and while Styron's language dips, dives, and skates with exquisite word choice, his sentences are sometimes so meticulous and short that you'd wish there were a more broad way to describe these ideas but frustratingly know he couldn't possibly do so. Styron has been absent from American letters for over a decade, promising another but as yet unreleased/unfinished novel, and while that continues as a disappointment, 'A Tidewater Morning' is a blessed trinity that serves as the gentlest, most perfect denouement.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2008

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