Peter Taylor: The Complete Stories
This is a handsome two-volume set of the works of Peter Taylor from 1938 through 1992. Peter Taylor may be the best writer I had never heard of. He was born Mathew Hillsman Taylor, Jr. with a pedigree of governors and politicos in his family. He chose to go to Vanderbilt and study literature, where he befriended John Crowe Ransom and Robert Lowell. These relationships obviously inspired him but also created difficulties, common to many creative writers. Drinking may have been a factor.
These short stories are wonderful in their complex simplicity. Taylor said, “Compression is everything.” One gets the sense that no more could be expressed or packed into these stories. Many are about relationships between upper-middle class families and their hired help who are black. Unfortunately, pejoratives are used; however, one gets the sense that Taylor is focusing on the depth and poignancy of the unsaid between the races. Many of his characters are homemakers who could say a lot if they were given a voice. These are very well crafted stories, not limited by the Southern voice.
Library of America
Peter Taylor • Ann Beattie, Editor