PURSUIT by Berry Morgan
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So many writers of the South seem to possess what one critic termed ""blood knowledge"" which in a sense affiliates much of the writing emerging from it with Faulkner (Walker Percy's repudiation here to the contrary-- he sponsors the book strongly). Heavier than the overcast of death and decay, there's that sense of slow time; of continuity; of the past which is almost a physical presence; of the land and what Mrs. Morgan in her very talented first novel calls its ""authority."" It's as airless as a winding sheet.... This is the first in a projected series."" It deals with the ""pursuit,"" more possession, of Ned Ingles who returns home from teaching (in New Orleans?) to the part colored, illegitimate son Laurance he has, until now, had little use for or truck with. Laurance is a slow, absent, overly religious boy of rather slack mien: he spends most of time praying or practising the piano. He wants to become a priest and he has little feeling for his father. Ned gets extra help (presumably only tutoring) for him in the hope of interesting Laurance in Annabella, the woman Anna's daughter. Laurance is not interested in Annabella but comfortable Anna cossets him, rubs his back nightly and provides ""other comforts."" To ensure this perpetual care, Ned takes Annabella off her hands by marrying her, and it is Anna who nurses Laurance through his last months as he slips away from all of them-- Hodgkin's disease.... The book is remarkable for the close, shuttered atmosphere which confines these lives and to a great extent defines the character of the book -- difficult to escape both in its immediate and more far-reaching effectiveness.

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 1966
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin