2008.03.30: March 30, 2008: Headlines: COS - Belize: Writing - Belize: Clarksville Leaf Chronicle: Character of Tanner exactly size of life in Belize RPCV Barry Kitterman's 'Baker's Boy'

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Belize: Peace Corps Belize : Peace Corps Belize: Newest Stories: 2008.03.30: March 30, 2008: Headlines: COS - Belize: Writing - Belize: Clarksville Leaf Chronicle: Belize RPCV Barry Kitterman's life rings a chord of intensity : 2008.03.30: March 30, 2008: Headlines: COS - Belize: Writing - Belize: Clarksville Leaf Chronicle: Character of Tanner exactly size of life in Belize RPCV Barry Kitterman's 'Baker's Boy'

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Character of Tanner exactly size of life in Belize RPCV Barry Kitterman's 'Baker's Boy'

Character of Tanner exactly size of life in Belize RPCV Barry Kitterman's 'Baker's Boy'

A 47-year-old man who years ago graduated from college and spent two years in the Peace Corps, Tanner has left his pregnant wife, rented a room downtown, and taken a middle-of-the-night job making bread for a local bakery. Much as he adores his wife, Katherine, Tanner's choices seem absurd. But as the story weaves back and forth between Tanner's present life, in Middle Tennessee, and his past, 25 years gone, teaching troubled boys for the Peace Corps in Belize, the recipe that created him begins to reveal its ingredients.

Character of Tanner exactly size of life in Belize RPCV Barry Kitterman's 'Baker's Boy'

Character of Tanner exactly size of life in 'Baker's Boy'

By STACY SMITH SEGOVIA The Leaf-Chronicle March 30, 2008

The protagonists of so many novels are grand heroes, larger than life. Tanner Johnson, the man at the center of Barry Kitterman's new novel, "The Baker's Boy" (Southern Methodist University Press, $22.50) is loving, idealistic and smart. He is also fragile, often paralyzed by fears and doubts that, on the surface, make no sense.
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In short, Tanner is exactly the size of life.

Human motivation is one of the world's great complexities, and Tanner's is revealed to readers in compelling, sometimes heartbreaking, bits and pieces.

A 47-year-old man who years ago graduated from college and spent two years in the Peace Corps, Tanner has left his pregnant wife, rented a room downtown, and taken a middle-of-the-night job making bread for a local bakery. Much as he adores his wife, Katherine, Tanner's choices seem absurd. But as the story weaves back and forth between Tanner's present life, in Middle Tennessee, and his past, 25 years gone, teaching troubled boys for the Peace Corps in Belize, the recipe that created him begins to reveal its ingredients.

Throughout the book, there is no question that Tanner's love for his wife, Katherine, is profound. It is obvious he wants to be a husband to her, and a father to their son. What is at question is his courage, to face both the traumas of his past and the fears of this moment. The relationship between Tanner and Katherine, although discordant on the surface, is a reassuring, recurring note that sings throughout the novel.

"Hold me," Katherine says to Tanner when they are face to face in one scene.

"I did exactly as I was told," Tanner tells us in the novel. "I put my arms around her, and I felt as if I was falling through piles of clean laundry, as if I had discovered a hidden valley high in the mountains. As if I'd driven home safe on a cold and snowy night."

Kitterman has been a writing professor at Austin Peay State University since 1995. That he is able to handle such sweetness in a way that resonates with readers is a testament to his abilities, especially considering the quiet, altering power within the violence "The Baker's Boy" also depicts.

Originally scheduled for release May 31, Kitterman's novel, more than a decade in the making, is set to appear April 4. Preorders for the book are now being taken at Amazon.com, and "The Baker's Boy" is already garnering admiration from fellow novelists.

"You find out who you are in times of crisis," Rick DeMarinis, author of "The Year of the Zinc Penny," writes. "Almost always the discovery is not what you expected. 'The Baker's Boy,' like much of Joseph Conrad's work, is about the pain of such revelation and its continuing effect on one's life."

DeMarinis finally calls "The Baker's Boy" "a strong and haunting debut novel by a fine writer."

One could only hope after the bone-deep ache, and the insistent joy of "The Baker's Boy" that this debut is just that, and that more will follow.

Stacy Smith Segovia can be reached at 245-0720 or at stacysegovia@theleafchronicle.com.




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: March, 2008; Peace Corps Belize; Directory of Belize RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Belize RPCVs; Writing - Belize





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Story Source: Clarksville Leaf Chronicle

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Belize; Writing - Belize

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