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 Fiction Review   

 

A House All Stilled
By A. G. Harmon
University of Tennessee Press, 2002
Hardcover, $29.95  (248 pages)
ISBN: 1-57233-202-6
 
 
 

A House All Stilled, A.G. Harmon's first novel, a Winner of the Tennessee - Peter Taylor Book Award Prize for the Novel, takes place in a small Mississippi town and is the tale of three generations of Tollet men.

When his parents divorced, Henry Tollet's father, Cox, got custody of him despite the fact he's closer in temperament to his mother. His parents agreed he needed to stay on the farm and learn to work the land like his forefathers. Subliminally, he understands his father wished for another kind of son, one who didn't get beat up on the playground without a fight.

Henry, now twelve, concerns his father. Cox tries to guide Henry away from his diffidence and passive attitude. Cox believes revenge is the only way for his son to face his fears and become a man. His attitudes stir up resentments and open old wounds with Henry's mother and his own father.

Old Man Tollet holds the title to the farm but is unwilling to take any responsibility for the day to day operations of the small business. Instead, he prefers drinking and talking about his war time experiences.

Cox's dissatisfactions with his family -- father, son, and ex-wife -- questions the father-son relationships, family dynamics, and how one finds the strength to move beyond family expectation.

A.G. Harmon was born in Houston, Mississippi and spent time on his family's farm in Columbia, Tennessee.  He was the 1994 recipient of the Milton Center Fellowship for the Novel and has also received a Thomas Williams Short Story Award in addition to being twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He teaches at the Catholic University of America.

 

Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews

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