After the publication of his Collected Stories, which Joyce Carol Oates hailed as “one of the major works of our literature,” and before his novel A Summons to Memphis, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1987, Peter Taylor published a book of four stories in verse and four in prose. The predominant concerns of this collection are internal family conflict and the ability of family members to retain a relationship with one another at a time in history when the search for personal identity becomes the ultimate quest. In the title story of the collection, a teenage boy commits a series of heedless acts as a way of carving out his independence. His grandfather, who himself has been reluctant to conform to the lifestyle his children have tried to impose on him, discovers the boy in the middle of a rowdy party. Sensing the futility of resistance, the grandfather gives up his atypical existence and fully commits to the role that has always been waiting for him. The bond between the grandfather and grandson is established not because but in spite of what the middle generation—the boy’s parents—expect of them.
(Fiction; Knopf, 1977)