Reviews for Tidewater Tales : A Novel

Library Journal Reviews 1987 June #2
Peter Sagamore, novelist, has come down with a bad case of minimalism. Ruthless self-editing leaves him with works only a few words in length, and no readers. His wife is a ``maximalist'' oral historian with an MLS. In June 1980 they spend two weeks sailing around Chesapeake Bay in their boat Story, telling stories. The result is familiar Barthean fare: ``lost episodes'' of the Odyssey, the Arabian Nights, and Don Quixote interspersed with lectures on Maryland history, the CIA, and toxic waste. (Librarians will wince at the incoherent review of cataloging procedures on Day 5.) A strong addition to the Barth canon, Tidewater Tales is probably the only piece of experimental fiction that can double as summer beach reading. An essential purchase for all collections of contemporary literature. Edward B. St. John, Loyola Marymount Univ. Lib., Los Angeles Copyright 1987 Cahners Business Information.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 1987 May #3
In Barth's work since The Sot-Weed Factor, fiction itselfstorytelling as a way of experiencing and rendering the worldclaims the center of attention. Even the sloop in which the principal characters of the current novel drift in the noxious waters of Chesapeake Bay is called Story. Peter Sagamore, a university professor of the Art of Everdiminishing Fiction, is a writer; Katherine is his immensely pregnant wife and, in the fullness of time, mother of twins. What ``happens'' isn't the point: manner is everything; playfulness is given free rein; and Barth brings commensurate resources of imaginative energy and invention to his huge, volatile, hyperkinetic novel, which draws on classical and other exotic storehouses of story. For all the exuberance driving this narrative flood, some readers will be oppressed by the flash, pop and sparkle, and some will devoutly wish for the return of everyday realism. That sly, elliptical, bumptious fictioneer Peter Sagamore would neither expect nor desire anything else. (June 22) Copyright 1987 Cahners Business Information.