A Tidewater Morning: Three Tales from Youth

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In these stories - never before published in book form - William Styron focuses his unmatched talents on matters that have preoccupied him during much of his adult writing career. Although their immediate subjects are different - a young Marine about to invade Japan in World War II remembers the role his father played in building one of the ships; a child recalls what happened when a former slave came home to die in the place where he was born; a boy describes the hot summer day on which his mother died, changing...
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1993 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 142 p. Audience: General/trade.

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New York, NY 1993 Hard cover First edition. Stated First Edition New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 142 p. Audience: General/trade. 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. Read more Show Less

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Overview

In these stories - never before published in book form - William Styron focuses his unmatched talents on matters that have preoccupied him during much of his adult writing career. Although their immediate subjects are different - a young Marine about to invade Japan in World War II remembers the role his father played in building one of the ships; a child recalls what happened when a former slave came home to die in the place where he was born; a boy describes the hot summer day on which his mother died, changing his life forever - the stories are told in the voice of the same narrator, who remembers vividly his youth in a tidewater town in Virginia. A Tidewater Morning is written with the power and distinction of a writer who occupies a preeminent place in modern American literature.

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
Brad Hooper
From the author of, among other novels, the classic "Lie Down in Darkness" (1952), the controversial "Confessions of Nat Turner" (1968), and the monumental "Sophie's Choice" (1979), comes a book less a peak in Styron's career than perhaps a lovely, serene valley. Three long short stories (each previously published in "Esquire") form a triptych capturing as if in amber a trio of moments in Paul Whitehurst's youth and early manhood. In "Love Day," he's a Marine preparing to participate in the assault on Okinawa in the last days of World War II. "I felt as helpless and as vulnerable as I had at any time since I had gone to war," says Paul; it's a time of poignant introspection, cast here in Styron's trademark mellifluous style. "Shadrach" features a younger Paul's reactions (he's 10 that summer) to an ancient black man who returns to the local plantation where he was born in slavery, to die and be buried. The issue brings out residual racist attitudes still grounded in the soil of the Virginia Tidewater in those Depression days. The triptych's final panel, "A Tidewater Morning," is actually situated chronologically between its predecessors, and it's the most affecting of the three. With a pungency that keenly pierces the reader's heart by use of a blade devoid of sentimentality, Paul recalls his father's disgust with a God that would take in such an excruciating manner the life of his wife, Paul's mother. Back in the second story, Paul mentions that something "caused me to shiver with their splendor," and the reader will indeed have the same reactions to the words, sentences, and perceptions offered here.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679427421
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/1/1993
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 142

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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