A Summons to Memphis
By Peter Taylor
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375701177, 224pp.)
Publication Date: June 29, 1999
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One of the most celebrated novels of its time, the Pulitzer Prize winner A Summons to Memphis introduces the Carver family, natives of Nashville, residents, with the exception of Phillip, of Memphis, Tennessee.
During the twilight of a Sunday afternoon in March, New York book editor Phillip Carver receives an urgent phone call from each of his older, unmarried sisters. They plead with Phillip to help avert their widower father's impending remarriage to a younger woman. Hesitant to get embroiled in a family drama, he reluctantly agrees to go back south, only to discover the true motivation behing his sisters' concern. While there, Phillip is forced to confront his domineering siblings, a controlling patriarch, and flood of memories from this troubled past.
Peter Taylor is one of the masters of Southern literature, whose work stands in the company of Eudora Walty, James Agee, and Walker Percy. In A Summons to Memphis, he composed a richly evocative story of revenge, resolution, and redemption, and gave us a classic work of American literature.
Peter Taylor was born in Tennessee in 1917. He was the author of seven books of stories, including The Collected Stories of Peter Taylor, A Long Fourth, In the Miro District and Other Stories and The Old Forest and Other Stories (which won the Pen/Faulkner Award for fiction in 1985); three novels including A Summons to Memphis (which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1987); and three books of plays. Mr. Taylor taught at Harvard University, the University of North Carolina, and Kenyon College, from which he graduated in 1940. Before his death in 1994, he was Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia.
"We finish the novel feeling we've not only come to know his characters, but also come to share their inner truths." --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"A beautiful ironic novel. Peter Taylor's fiction is full of rewards." --The New York Times Book Review
"A Summons to Memphis is like a leisurely port wine sipped slowly and with pleasure beneath a blackjack oak." --The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Something of a miracle.... [A Summons to Memphis] is a work that manages to summarize and embody its author's entire career." --The Washington Post Book World