The Old Whitaker Place
2010. ISBN-13: 978-1-4507-0092-4/ISBN-10: 1-4507-0092-6
Co-winner of the 2009 Miami University Press Novella Contest
In The Old Whitaker Place, we walk with Tom Whitaker through the last years of his long life. He lives alone in a Vermont farmhouse built by his great-grandfather shortly after the Civil War and struggles with blizzards and squatters, with aphids and storm windows, and with Ben, his only child. But most importantly, he struggles with himself and with the indignities of advancing age. Too infirm to live on his own but fiercely attached to the family land, he devises various schemes to permit him to remain at home. His situation looks increasingly hopeless until he meets Teresa, a strong, like-minded woman thirty years his junior. Told in Tom’s dry, cranky, sardonic voice, this short novel reveals much about life’s richness—and absurdity—in the face of adversity.
Reviews & Such
“Tom Whitaker, the aging hero of David Chambers’ fine first novel, is one of the most captivating characters I’ve encountered in some time. In a voice that is by turns tender, biting, nostalgic, and fearful, he tells a tale that, while succinct, speaks volumes about what it means to grow old in America today. But do not read this as a book with a political agenda, because it isn’t. It is, above all, a wonderful story.”
—Julia Glass, author of Three Junes and The Widower’s Tale
“David Chambers writes with sophistication, sensitivity and humor about the love of old houses, and what gets left behind at the end of a life. Tom Whitaker—cranky, stubborn—at least as curmudgeonly as he is sympathetic, narrates his own slow exit from the world (sometimes with grace, more often kicking and screaming) in a novella that will make you want to be kinder to somebody: your grandfather, your father, yourself.”
—Pam Houston, author of Sight Hound and Cowboys Are My Weakness
About the Author
David Chambers grew up in Indiana and taught for over thirty years at the University of Michigan Law School. Since the turn of the century, he has lived in Vermont, writing fiction. The Old Whitaker Place is his first novel.