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The End of Time

In his last novel, In the Tennessee Country, published the summer before Peter Taylor's death on November 2, 1994, a man, the narrator's cousin, "chucks" his family, his home, and his identity, and disappears. What is important about Cousin Aubrey, however, is not so much his mysterious absence from the narrator's life as his lingering presence in the narrator's imagination.

The narrator, Nathan Tucker Longfort, begins his story with a journey he took as a six-year-old child from Washington, D.C., to Tennessee aboard a funeral train carrying the body of his grandfather, a late United States senator and former governor of Tennessee. It was during this trip that Nathan's interest in Aubrey was aroused, and it was upon completion of it that Aubrey disappeared. Throughout his early years, Nathan Longfort attends a succession of family funerals which occasion the phantom-like appearances and disappearances of Aubrey Bradshaw, the "outside" (illegitimate) cousin who had been Nathan's mother's first love, and each time his interest in this mysterious cousin is intensified. This interest in Cousin Aubrey comes to represent not only a romantic fascination with the past, but an escape from the responsibility of the present. As a young man, Nathan pursues art history rather than painting. In so doing, he compromises both his talent and his integrity. His subsequent political maneuverings...

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