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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 town’s 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 gratitude—though their single sexual encounter doesn’t 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 he’s convinced he’s a frequent victim of to recording Taftly’s 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 Taftly’s 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 West’s splenetic A Cool Million with all the bile replaced by bottled spring water—and have a nice day.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2000
ISBN: 1-892514-70-2
Publisher: Hill Street
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2000