Middle-aged, and in poor health, widower and grandfather Corey takes a solo trip home to Freeport, the Texan town he grew up in. But that trip turns out to represent much more than a poignant journey for old times’ sake.
With memories of his childhood prompted by the familiar Texan landscape, Corey narrates the story of the 1950s summer that changed his life forever. Dismissed and beaten by a frustrated and violent father and effectively abandoned by an emotionally fragile and obsessively religious mother, the teenage Corey turns to his grandfather for comfort.
Then his grandfather is diagnosed with terminal cancer.
As events unfold, it becomes clear that this is just one of several life-changing events to happen to Corey that summer. His parents’ marriage falls apart, his mother’s mental health declines and his father becomes increasingly angry, as a beloved father and grandfather slides towards death.
Meanwhile, Corey’s best friend lives locally in a violent and dysfunctional household, until the ultimate tragedy strikes and Destin is whisked away to live with relatives. Faced with the loss of his closest friend and imminent loss of his grandfather, Cory focuses his attention on a very special project, a present for his father. A present intended to win his father’s love.
But it doesn’t.
And Corey’s good intentions vanish into violence…
And that is when, strengthened by the wise counsel of his dying grandfather, Corey realizes that it is time to be his own person.
The Death of Tarpons is a coming-of-age tale as the adult Corey recalls his past and sees with new clarity the issues surrounding love, parenthood, family and death which he must deal with.
About Les Edgerton
“Edgerton’s first novel shines with wisdom.” —Publishers Weekly
“Throughout this exceptional first novel, Edgerton uses fishing as an extended metaphor for life. Like a hooked tarpon that first lurks on the bottom before leaping high out of the water, life’s lows are followed by highs, and the successful angler must learn to cope with both extremes. Highly recommended for public libraries and for academic libraries supporting writing programs.” —Library Journal (Starred Review)
“It is painful to witness cruelty and intentional rejection, behaviors that dominate this story of a desperate, hopeful search for fatherly love by 14-year-old Corey. Edgerton’s skillful writing and characterizations invite the reader to share Corey’s horrors and hopes, to try to understand unreasonable motives, to care about the outcome.” —Austin American-Statesman
“The Death of Tarpons is much more than a fish story, more even than an investigation about how and why boys grow—or don’t grow—into good men. […] While this book deals with violence and cruelty, it is ultimately a definition of gentleness and love. It is a good story; it is a good book.” —The Indianapolis Star (Starred Review)
“A coming-of-age tale set on the Texas Gulf Coast, Edgerton’s novel bravely handles a boy growing up in his fourteenth summer. Loving grandparents aid Corey’s quest to please a father incapable of love, and his protection of a mother seeking solace in religious fundamentalism. …this first novel reflects equally the author’s respectable effort at expression, and its protagonist’s expressive struggle. Big on heart.” —Booklover’s Magazine
“Edgerton is not just another stunning narrative talent, he is an important narrative authority – a master of his or any other generation.” —Vincent Zandri, author of As Catch Can, Permanence, and Godchild
“Les Edgerton’s The Death of Tarpons is a big-hearted and beautiful story of love and death and the fact that we all grow up and away, for better and worse, from who and what we once were.” —Bret Lott, author of Jewel
“Edgerton takes on one of the hoariest of projects, the family chronicle, but he explores individual characters and domestic relations in so particularized, so eloquent and—in the very best sense—so idiosyncratic a way, that we almost feel we are treading such ground for the first time.” —Sydney Lea, author of A Place of Mind