Mr. Tall: A Novella and Stories
“Just Married” is from Tony Earley’s new collection, MR TALL: A NOVELLA AND STORIES (Little Brown, 2014). Earley is the author of one earlier collection, HOW WE ARE IN PARADISE, and two novels, JIM THE BOY and THE BLUE STAR. Jess Walters, in his Sunday Times review of the book said: Tony Earley’s elegiac new collection begins in playful rhyme, with a couple named Darryl and Cheryl from Argyle, N.C. It ends some 240 pages later with a plea: “For God’s sake, don’t close this book.”
The review continues: “Earley’s novels…were built around Jim Glass, coming of age in North Carolina during the 1930s and ’40s. At their best, these books could make simple literary pleasure seem subversive. It’s that early Earley who fires out of the gate in “Mr. Tall,” with three assured, evocative tales rich in humor and complex emotion.
In the terrific title story, we’re back in 1930s North Carolina, and 16-year-old Plutina Scroggs has up and decided to marry Charlie Shires. But Plutina’s mother has been rendered “senseless as a pillow” by a stroke, and she worries her father will resent her running off to get married.
“Just Married” is a series of vignettes featuring characters swirling around one another’s lives. As in the earlier stories, the writing can be sharply profound–after one man’s return from World War II, his wife “loved him back into the shape of himself” ….
The closing story, “Jack and the Mad Dog,” is the longest–at 78 pages, it’s a full-fledged novella–and also the starkest departure from Earley’s other work. This is different temporal and emotional terrain…and it’s a treat to watch a writer as talented as Earley explore it, rising tides, skunk apes and all.”