Genre: southern literary fiction
Length: 209 pages
Setting: NYC and Memphis, 1980s
Interest: It won the Pulitzer Prize
Summary: Phillip, our narrator, has been living in NYC for years while his two sisters and parents remained in Memphis. When his mother dies, his father begins going out with a variety of women. His sisters relate their father’s adventures with much amusement in their frequent letters. However, they become concerned when their father finds a sensible woman to settle down with. Phillip is summoned to Memphis to help persuade their father not to marry. Phillip begins to reminisce over his childhood. His sisters take great steps to prevent the marriage.
Final thought: The worst kind of literary fiction for me – boring. It was so terrible or so long that I wanted to quit, but the book definitely felt like a chore to read. It was all about Phillip’s life. He didn’t have a very happy childhood and his father was very controlling. Obviously, the Pulitzer Prize committee found the writing high quality, but it didn’t speak to me. It’s one of those books where I have to look up why people found the book prize-worthy. Apparently, it has to do with the conflict of Phillip’s emotions – toward his father, toward the south, toward his sisters, etc. Not what I’m looking for in a book. I like some action in my books (which is probably one of the reasons I like genre fiction so much).
Title comes from: Phillip was summoned to Memphis by his sisters to deal with his father
Awards won: National Book Critics Circle Award in 1986, Pulitzer Prize in 1987
Reading challenges fulfilled: 69/100 in my Finally to 100 Challenge, and 13/12 in my Award Winning Challenge (although it’s only been six Pulitzer Prize winners)
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