Tarlton, John S. 1950-
TARLTON, John S. 1950-
PERSONAL: Born 1950.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Bridge Works Publishing, P.O. Box 1798 Bridge Lane, Bridgehampton, NY 11932.
CAREER: Author. Has worked as an oil company lease negotiator.
A Window Facing West (novel), Bridge Works Publishing (Bridgehampton, NJ), 1999.
The Cost of Doing Business (novel), Bridge Works Publishing (Bridgehampton, NJ), 2001.
Also author of short stories.
SIDELIGHTS: John S. Tarlton is the author of novels dealing with middle-aged characters facing tough challenges in their lives. In his debut book, A WindowFacing West, the author tells of forty-seven-year-old Gatlin, who tries to ride out his midlife crisis; he reflects on his life and wonders whether he did not sew enough of his wild oats when he had the chance. Comfortably married to Sarah for two dozen years, Gatlin is the same age his father was when his father committed suicide, and he is suddenly overcome by a "masculine meltdown," as one Publishers Weekly writer put it. He consequently begins to believe he should imitate the ways of his cheating and philandering friends. Exploring Gatlin's psychological state through several sometimes humorous episodes, Tarlton reveals his character's personal crisis as he frets about his sex life and his mortality, problems that can only be faced head-on if he comes to terms with his father's death. The Publishers Weekly critic called A Window Facing West a "witty, though sometimes labored debut," while Joanna M. Burkhardt asserted in Library Journal that it is "well crafted and provocative."
In the follow-up novel, The Cost of Doing Business, Tarlton creates a complex Southern tale featuring a thirty-something woman named Diane Morris, who works as an oil company's lease negotiator trying to persuade Louisiana residents to sell their land for the drilling rights. The book relates not only her difficulties in dealing with the property owners, all of whom have various reasons for not cooperating with her, but also her family problems, including an ex-husband who is an ex-convict in trouble. In addition, Morris is living with her widowed father and taking care of her own son, Tim. Events become even trickier for Morris when A. E. Baughman—the wealthy landowner who is trying to grab the land rights of his neighbors so that he can profit from the oil deal—starts receiving threatening messages. This leads to the involvement of the local law enforcement and a new romantic interest for Morris: the sheriff.
A number of reviewers received The Cost of Doing Business warmly, with one Kirkus Reviews contributor describing it as a "fine, funny potboiler, with only an unlikely twist at the end to give the reader pause." Booklist writer Brendan Dowling especially enjoyed the story's quirky characters who still "remain multifaceted and true to life," and a Publishers Weekly critic concluded that "the novel is worth reading for its insight into the truths that motivate people of all regions."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August, 2001, Brendan Dowling, review of The Cost of Doing Business, p. 2092.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2001, review of The Cost of Doing Business, p. 1161.
Library Journal, October 15, 1999, Joanna M. Burkhardt, review of A Window Facing West, p. 108.
New York Times Book Review, January 2, 2000, Erik Burns, review of A Window Facing West, p. 14.
Publishers Weekly, August 23, 1999, review of A Window Facing West, p. 46; September 24, 2001, review of The Cost of Doing Business, p. 66.
January Online,http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (October 27, 2003), Linda Richards, "A Terrible Beauty," review of The Cost of Doing Business.