Taps by Willie Morris
A Novel

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Synopsis

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.
 

About Willie Morris

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Willie Morris is the author of North Toward Home, New York Days, My Dog Skip, My Cat Spit McGee, and numerous other works of fiction and nonfiction. As the imaginative and creative editor of Harper’s Magazine in the 1960s, he published such writers as William Styron, Gay Talese, David Halberstam, and Norman Mailer, and he was a major influence in changing our postwar literary and journalistic history. He died in August 1999 at the age of sixty-four.
 
Published April 16, 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 352 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Taps

Kirkus Reviews

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Arch, Swayze's companion trumpeter for the funeral services, is a surly, James Dean sort of charmer with an independent streak and a way with his horn that outshines Swayze's modest bellowing.

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Publishers Weekly

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A six-city tour by the author's widow, JoAnne Prichard Morris, who will be joined by many of Morris's literary friends, and a tie-in with Father's Day merchandising should give the book a boost.

| Read Full Review of Taps: A Novel

Business Week

The USPS is looking to exploit a loophole it says will enable the service to stop delivering letters on Saturdays Will it work?

Feb 11 2008 | Read Full Review of Taps: A Novel

Reader Rating for Taps
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