The Total View of Taftly: A Novel

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9781892514707: The Total View of Taftly: A Novel

When we first meet Taftly Harper he is happily ensconced in the boozy Copiah Harper Tavern, an establishment named after his grandfather, in bucolic Copiah Springs. Though Taftly descends from a storied line of Southerners, his father has long ago vanished and his mother is dead. Left to his own devices, Taftly seeks an adventurous and heroic existence for himself: a life of honor with an occasional splash of splendor. After losing a good bit of weight with a running magazine as his Bible, our newly svelte Taftly foremost wants what any pathetically noble creature deserves: to love and be loved. Instead, he finds and loses love, is deeply disturbed over an assault by the elephantine Clydesdale twins, is pestered by an alien-abducted sidekick, and is tormented by memories of his mother. From the peaks of ingenious hilarity to valleys of soul-searching depth, debut novelist Scott Morris has created a character cynical enough to be genuine and ridiculous enough to the loveable. Taftly's redemptive saga is not soon forgotten. Through him, we are forced to explore our own position in the world where we are left with a rare glimpse of the "Total View," or how to wrench grace and triumph from an otherwise plotless world.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

The sweetly ineffectual last survivor of a decayed southern family pines in vain for a Total View of his place in the cosmos. Taftly Harper has a lot going for him, but somehow it never all comes together. The sole heir of his towns first family, he works as a truck driver for his own holding, the Copiah Springs Bottled Water Company. Spurred on by a jogging magazine, he loses a ton of baby fat, but instead of his buff new bod bringing him together with his dream girl, it makes him the target of the elephantine Clydesdale twins. Neither the Catholic priest nor the Baptist minister he consults about this trauma can make him whole again. Soon thereafter, he not only meets his dream girl in the person of Fay Davis but rescues her from Rodney Train, her brutish suitor, and wins her undying gratitudethough their single sexual encounter doesnt deter her from marriage to a local doctor, and leaves Taftly haunted besides. When Taftly retreats to a cabin in the woods to lick his wounds, handyman Dennis Jolly shifts his cracked attention from the alien abductions hes convinced hes a frequent victim of to recording Taftlys every distracted utterance on tape and peddling the results in hopes of becoming a millennial Boswell. Meanwhile, Rodney Train writes from the state pen vowing to kill him. First-timer Morris retails Taftlys modest adventures with a beguiling inconsequence worthy of his amiable hero, even though the lunacy is a little too neatly and generously distributed, and never adds up to a Total View, or much of anything else. Think of Nathanael Wests splenetic A Cool Million with all the bile replaced by bottled spring waterand have a nice day. -- Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Aiming to juxtapose erudite narration with ignorant characters, Morris's earnest novel of Southern silliness and bawdy, boozy escapades never quite manages to make it off the bar stool. Thirtyish Taftly Harper is the pitiful descendant of local heroes--his great-grandfather built the local college and his granddaddy built the bank. Taftly himself has just shed the weight that branded him a fat loser. Also saddled with psychosexual hang-ups (the legacy of his recently deceased fastidious mother) and painful memories of his ex-girlfriend Ruby, Taftly is on a mission to find love. He thinks he's got a chance when he saves the attractive Fay Davis from her abusive common-law husband, but she marries a doctor. As a parting gesture, Fay removes her dentures and services Taftly--a sexual favor (he subsequently learns) that has earned her notoriety. Rejected and now obsessed with the notion that his teeth are clairvoyant, Taftly buys property outside of town and becomes acquainted with bumbling handyman Dennis Jolly, who claims to have been abducted by space aliens. Torturing himself with thoughts of Fay, Taftly is driven to outcries of anguish beneath the stars. Dennis overhears these soul-searching soliloquies, records them and aspires to become Taftly's Boswell. When Taftly discovers Dennis marketing the tapes as "Lectures from Taftly Harper on God and Many Other Great Thinkers," he goes ballistic. Morris renders his characters as redneck buffoons striving for philosophical loftiness--which, added to the story's rambling plot and bizarre tone, conspire to make Taftly's adventure an incoherent, alienating whirlwind. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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