A Novel

Book - 2001
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The final work by one of America's most beloved authors, TAPS returns to the stretch of southern delta that Willie Morris made famous with his award-winning classic NORTH TOWARD HOME and the enormously popular tales of his inimitable dog Skip. Morris said he put everything he knew into this novel, and the result is the crowning achievement of his career -- a tender, powerful, very American story about the vanishing beauty of the South and the fleeting boyhood of a young man coming of age in a time of war.

It is 1951 when sixteen-year old Swayze Barksdale watches the young men of Fisk's Landing, Mississippi, march off to a faraway place called Korea. Too young to serve overseas, Swayze is soon called to unexpected duty at home: a local boy is an early casualty of the war, and Swayze is enlisted to play "Taps" at his graveside. Gradually, Swayze begins to pace his life around these all too frequent funerals, where his horn sounds the tragic note of the times.

Still, life in Fisk's Landing goes on, with its comforting rhythms, hilarious mishaps, moments of pure joy. Young love blossoms, age-old hatreds flare. A cast of eccentric characters help shepherd Swayze into adulthood and teach him what it means to be a patriot, a son, a lover, a friend. Ultimately, when "Taps" is played for someone he holds very dear, Swayze learns what it means to be man.

Wonderfully assured, infinitely wise, TAPS showcases Willie Morris at his most accomplished and resonant, as he takes readers on one last fictional journey through his South, a place as familiar to him "as water or grass or sunlight." Sure to be an instant classic, TAPS is a beautiful, unforgettable story about ordinary people whose lives proceed with the same inevitability as the seasons until day is done.
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2001
ISBN: 9780618098590
Branch Call Number: FIC Morri 3558ad 1
Characteristics: 340 p


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Jun 26, 2010

Beautifully written evocation of the Mississippi Delta in the 1950's. A sensitive young man, a decent trumpeter, and his sardonic best friend, possessed by his own virtuosity, are called on to play Taps at the funerals of local boys shipped home from the Korean War.
Sometimes it seems a bit by- the-numbers, but I guess any coming-of-age tales is always going to include some of the same elements. Any sense of the routine is dispelled by Morris's piercing, compassionate knowledge of his characters and their setting. And the writing, while lush, never topples over into gushing. Like the Grinch, you can feel your heart growing two sizes bigger as you read this book.

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