In a Father's Place

Christopher Tilghman, Author
Christopher Tilghman, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $18.95 (204p) ISBN 978-0-374-17558-0
Reviewed on: 03/31/1990
Release date: 04/01/1990
A talented new voice debuts here in seven short stories that exhibit a mature understanding of human relationships. Tilghman's writing is cool and confident, his perfectly calibrated prose seductively fluent and packed with meaning. ``On the Rivershore,'' told from the point of view of a 12-year-old boy, delivers a series of surprises that jolt and mesmerize the reader. Deftly depicting a generations-old social and economic hierarchy, a distinctive landscape sensuous with colors and odors, and the nuances of character and personality, the tale reveals the stunning aftermath to a murder. This story and two others are set on Maryland's Eastern Shore, which Tilghman describes with the same gifted eye he brings to the evocation of the Western plains in two other tales. The protagonist in ``Loose Reins'' returns to the family ranch where his mother has married the ``beaten, malnourished'' alcoholic farmhand, who unexpectedly gives him a perspective on the past and a way to face the future. The desperate father in ``Hole in the Day'' packs up his four children and follows his intuition in trying to find his runaway wife. The title story is a masterly evocation of ``the bondages of family and place,'' as an aging scion of Maryland gentry strives to preserve his values in an age that has seen the erosion of tradition and civility. Tilghman's insight and empathy infuse his stories with authority and grace. (Apr.)
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