This is the strange and beautiful story of Morgan, a chameleon of a
man still in search of his own identity.
The novel opens at a church fair puppet show with the Cinderella
puppet stopping abruptly because of the puppeteer's onset of labor.
A man from the audience ends up delivering the baby of Emily and
Leon, but the man they know as Dr. Morgan has "sailor outfits,
soldier outfits, riverboat-gambler outfits" and has masqueraded as
many other people.
"You could say he was a man who had gone to pieces, or maybe he'd
always been in pieces; maybe he'd arrived unassembled. Various
parts of him seemed poorly joined together. His lean, hairy limbs
were connected by exaggerated knobs of bone; his black-bearded jaw
was as clumsily hinged as a nutcracker. Parts of his life, too, lay
separate from other parts. His wife knew almost none of his
friends. His children had never seen where he worked; it wasn't in
a safe part of town, their mother said. Last month's hobby --- the
restringing of a damaged pawnshop banjo, with an eye to becoming
suddenly musical at the age of forty-two --- bore no resemblance to
this month's hobby, which was the writing of a science-fiction
novel that would make him rich and famous."
An uncommon man, Morgan tries to go back to his common life, but
thoughts of Emily and Leon interfere. Over the next few years, as
he grapples with the confines of domesticity, Morgan secretly
observes Emily and Leon from afar until he is forced out in the
open. Morgan's life has been made up of many different roles, but
now, as he is drawn closer and closer to Emily, he must assume his
most challenging role ever --- himself.
MORGAN'S PASSING is a novel of intelligence and humor, all told
with Tyler's unique infusion of empathy, irony, and dramatic
Reviewed by Jami Edwards on January 22, 2011