FAREWELL by Horton Foote

FAREWELL

A Memoir of a Texas Childhood
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Oscar-, Tony-, and Pulitzer-winning playwright and screenwriter Foote slowly recollects the minutiae of his Texas childhood in this foot-dragging, genealogy-laden memoir. Sometimes called the Chekhov of the small town, Foote has a shrewd and subtle understanding of the pettiness, gossip- mongering, and unassailable friendliness of small-town America. He also captures, all too well, the unremitting, mind-numbing dullness. Apart from young Horton growing up in this environment in Texas during the Depression and deciding to become an actor, very little happens beyond a few anecdotes, vast trenches of singularly unenlightening recollected dialogue, and numerous character sketches of Foote’s fellow townsfolk and far too numerous relatives. It’s like being trapped in a tiny room with an elderly relative, forced hour after hour to listen to pointless reminiscences, shopworn stories, and didactic meanderings. Chekhov was never so affectless or self-indulgent. There is great potential here; Foote obviously has a fine-pitched ear for dialogue and a sure grasp of character, yet almost everything is out of balance. Foote still lives in the house he was raised in, and he provides interesting hints at how much has changed, but he’s so concerned with describing every last twig of his family tree, from great- great-grandpappy Foote forward, that he misses this opportunity, and so many others, to reflect more broadly and tellingly on his life and times and circumstances. Readers can only wish that Foote had chosen to stick to art instead of life. Foote’s life may have become more exciting in the years following those circumscribed by this memoir. On its own weak terms, however, he’s off to an unpromising start. (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-684-84439-7
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1999




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