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Description - The Tidewater Tales by John Barth

"Tell me a story..." Katherine Shorter Sherritt Sagamore, 8 1/2 months pregnant, is a blue-blooded library scientist and founding mother of the American Society for the Preservation of Storytelling. Her husband Peter, 8 1/2 months nervous, is a blue-collar storyteller with a penchant for brevity. Sailing in the Chesapeake Bay, they tell each other tales to break the writer's block handed Peter by his Muse, to ease the weight of Katherine's pregnancy, to entertain, and to enlighten. Along with their stories, we learn of the Bay itself-past and present. The beloved Chesapeake, where young Peter once indulged his Huck Finn fantasy, is in danger of becoming what he dubs a moral cesspool; where nature is in a losing struggle with man; where the hallowed Deniston School for Girls is being pressured by the CIA to sell land to the Soviet embassy; and where the old Sagamore homestead might or might not be the newest espionage station on the shoreline.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780801855566
ISBN-10: 080185556X
Format: Paperback
(234mm x 156mm x 33mm)
Pages: 660
Imprint: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publish Date: 19-Feb-1997
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - The Tidewater Tales by John Barth

Book Reviews - The Tidewater Tales by John Barth

US Kirkus Review » For all its metafictional winks and high-jinks, Barth's latest tome fails to transcend its (ironically intended) self-description as "a novel in which next to nothing happens beyond an interminably pregnant couple's swapping stories." No ordinary couple, Peter and Katherine Sagamore are "the favored of the fucking earth" and their storytelling is of course meant to be extraordinary as well. With Katherine ready to pop, this golden duo cruise the Chesapeake Bay under sail, and without benefit of motor. Almost 40, librarian Katherine, who's also founder of the American Society for the Preservation of Storytelling (ASPS), hopes to bring her writer-husband out of his long slump. Celebrated for his early books, he's written himself into a minimalist dead-end; his latest stories consist of nothing but their one-word titles. "Sailing whither listeth wind and tide," these children of the Eastern Shore - his background's prole, hers horsy - recount their personal histories, with emphasis on the sordid stuff, such as Katherine's anal rape by her first husband, himself a repressed homosexual congressman. Before Katherine's water breaks, she and Peter meet up with some unlikely fellow travellers: a Greek couple who fancy themselves - and seem to be - Odysseus and Nausicaa; a salty seaman named Don Quicksoat; and a former CIA agent and his literature-prof wife who drift in from Barth's last novel, Sabbatical, and recycle some of its complex spy plot. This "narrative scavenger hunt" also includes long digressions on the "stars" by which both Barth and Peter steer: Twain, Cervantes, and Homer. Katherine's lesbian friend, and former lover, May Jump, hops aboard to update us on Scheherazade, another inspiration for these interminable "tidewater tales." "Et cetera" (to quote Barth's favored tag here). Rudderless fiction that runs aground too often. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - John Barth

John Barth, Professor Emeritus in the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, is the author of eleven other works of fiction- The Floating Opera, The End of the Road, The Sot-Weed Factor, Giles Goat-Boy, Lost in the Funhouse, Chimera (winner of the 1973 National Book Award), LETTERS, Sabbatical, The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor, Once upon a Time: A Floating Opera, and On with the Story-and two collections of essays, The Friday Book (also available in paperback from Johns Hopkins) and Further Fridays. He lives on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

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