Short stories by Peter Taylor

Peter Taylor, in full Peter Hillsman Taylor, (born Jan. 8, 1917, Trenton, Tenn., U.S.—died Nov. 2, 1994, Charlottesville, Va.), American short-story writer, novelist, and playwright known for his portraits of Tennessee gentry caught in a changing society.

From 1936 to 1937 Taylor attended Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, then the center of a Southern literary renaissance led by poets Allen Tate, Robert Penn Warren, and John Crowe Ransom. He transferred to Southwestern College in Memphis to study with Tate in 1937, then completed his B.A. in 1940 under Ransom at Kenyon College, Ohio. After serving in the army during World War II, Taylor taught at a number of schools until 1967, when he joined the faculty of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Taylor is best known for his short stories, which are usually set in his contemporary Tennessee and which reveal conflicts between old rural society and the rough, industrialized “New South.” Much of Taylor’s fiction was first published in magazines, notably The New Yorker. His first collection, A Long Fourth, and Other Stories (1948), contains subtle depictions of family disintegration, a concern that continues to surface in his subsequent work. In his 1950 novella A Woman of Means, regarded by many as his finest work, a young narrator recalls his wealthy stepmother’s nervous collapse and reveals the tension between her city ways and his father’s rural values.

Listing 15 stories.

A New Yorker returns to his childhood home with his family and comes to understand family dynamics more acutely when he visits a drug store run by a pharmacist whom he used to terrorize as a child.

After hiring multiple caretakers, one after another, a family finds a near perfect woman whom they adore. However, they are met with a surprise when the caretaker's term comes to an end.

A man reflects on his childhood growing up in Memphis during the Great Depression, specifically his relationship with his best friend. As he remembers his friend's odd relationship with his family, unusual approach to romance, and alluring charm, he begins to realize how different they were and still are.

While a mid-western US man waits for his family to gather in the car to finally leave his in-law's house, he wanders around the area and thinks about the importance of family, even though he and his father-in-law often disagree on values.

For a teenage boy living in Nashville, Tennessee, it is impossible to be close with his grandfather the way his parents expect them to be. Although they call the same area home, the grandfather and grandson come from opposite worlds.

When the decision to build a new integrated school falls into the hands of an elderly woman, a small Tennessee town grows desperate to escape the control of her family, which has historically worked to prohibit progress and change.

A sergeant looks forward to leaving the harshness of the barracks and going home to his wife, but is unable to feel truly at home until the rain provides the illusion of distance from the outside world.

An elderly man realizes his troublesome son is the only thing keeping him going.

A distant cousin comes to stay with a married couple in Nashville. As boys from her hometown come out to haunt her, she starts to lose control and a Shakespearean twist unfolds.

Three women from a small town, each with their respective ideas about grief and loss, meet for breakfast on a train.