The Hue and Cry at Our House: A Year Remembered

The Hue and Cry at Our House: A Year Remembered

by Benjamin Taylor

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The award-winning memoir of one tumultuous year of boyhood in Fort Worth, Texas, opening with a handshake with JFK, and recalling the changes and revelations of the months that followed.

Winner of the LA Times Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose, and a New York Times Editor's Choice.

“A marvel of a book—elegant, touching, singular.” —Mary Karr

Brief and moving . . . An elegantly written book, erudite, perceptive and at times painfully candid.”—Moira Hodgson, Wall Street Journal

After John F. Kennedy’s speech in front of the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth on November 22, 1963, he was greeted by, among others, an 11-year-old Benjamin Taylor and his mother waiting to shake his hand. Only a few hours later, Taylor’s teacher called the class in from recess and, through tears, told them of the president’s assassination. From there Taylor traces a path through the next twelve months, recalling the tumult as he saw everything he had once considered stable begin to grow more complex. Looking back on the love and tension within his family, the childhood friendships that lasted and those that didn’t, his memories of summer camp and family trips, he reflects upon the outsized impact our larger American story had on his own.
Benjamin Taylor is one of the most talented writers working today. In lyrical, translucent prose, he thoughtfully extends the story of twelve months into the years before and after, painting a portrait of the artist not simply as a young man, but across his whole life. As he writes, “[A]ny twelve months could stand for the whole. Our years are so implicated in one another that the least important is important enough . . . Any year I chose would show the same mettle, the same frailties stamping me at eleven and twelve.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781524705299
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/23/2017
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 208
File size: 12 MB
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About the Author

Benjamin Taylor's memoir, The Hue and Cry at Our House won the 2017 Los Angeles Times/Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiography and was named a New York Times Editors' Choice; his Proust: The Search was named a Best Book of 2015 by Thomas Mallon in The New York Times Book Review and by Robert McCrum in The Observer (London); and his Naples Declared: A Walk Around the Bay was named a Best Book of 2012 by Judith Thurman in The New Yorker. He is also the author of two novels, Tales Out of School, winner of the 1996 Harold Ribalow Prize, and The Book of Getting Even, winner of a 2009 Barnes & Noble Discover Award, as well as a book-length essay, Into the Open. He edited Saul Bellow: Letters, named a Best Book of 2010 by Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times and Jonathan Yardley in The Washington Post, and Bellow's There Is Simply Too Much to Think About: Collected Nonfiction, also a New York Times Editors' Choice. His edition of the collected stories of Susan Sontag, Debriefing, was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in November 2017. He is currently under contract to Penguin for a sequel to The Hue and Cry at Our House. Taylor is a founding faculty member in the New School’s Graduate School of Writing and teaches also in the Columbia University School of the Arts. He is a past fellow and current trustee of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and serves as president of the Edward F. Albee Foundation.

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from the Preface:

One year suffices: I've tried to wrest from the stream of time what happened to the Taylors and the nation between November 1963 and November 1964. But any twelve months could stand for the whole. Our years are so implicated in one another that the least im-portant is important enough. In Act Three of Thornton Wilder's Our Town, Emily Webb Gibbs has died and been brought to the Grover's Corners burial ground, joining the taci-turn, unempathic, all-knowing dead who sit together in rows. New to eternity and home-sick for life, she asks her mother-in-law, Mrs. Gibbs, whether she can go back to Grover's Corners and relive one day. "Choose an unimportant day," says Mother Gibbs, who thinks the whole idea unwise. "It will be important enough." Emily chooses February 11, 1899, a bitter-cold Tuesday: her twelfth birthday.

Table of Contents

Preface xvii

Chapter 1 No Faint Hearts 1

Chapter 2 A Clean Burrow 19

Chapter 3 The Real Man, the Imagination 41

Chapter 4 Peru 59

Chapter 5 Forebears 89

Chapter 6 Natural Shocks 107

Chapter 7 Lake Effect 125

Chapter 8 No Jews, No Commies, No Fags Neither 141

Chapter 9 A Statute of Limitations 161

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