At the Table of Want is a coming-of-age story that is so much more than one young manís journey into adulthood. Trumanís experiences, thoughts, feelings, and struggles become the readerís own.
We are more than merely ourselves; we belong to the world and those who live on it, making us who we are. I feel not only that I better know this ďkid from New JerseyĒ at the end of this novel, but I better know myself.
Allentown High School
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At The Table Of Want
At the Table of Want, a coming-of-age love story, chronicles orphan Truman Kramer's settling into a Peace Corps assignment in a small Malaysian community, where he eventually finds himself involved with a local shopkeeper's wife, an unloved woman craving anything of her own.
As a youngster, Truman's placed with an ill-prepared, yet well-meaning aunt widowed by the Korean War. Remaining a quiet, honest boy, Truman's scarred by the loss of his mother, and moreover, by two encounters with a notorious neighborhood bully. Working as a farm hand for a local dairy farmer, he also learns much incidental wisdom from the migrant help, and from the sonless dairyman himself.
Opening with his boarding a flight bound for Southeast Asia, as a United States Peace Corps volunteer in the spring of 1980, with time Truman settles into his Peace Corps reassignment of sorts, in a small Malaysian community. As ill-prepared as his aunt, he labors as a handyman/helper/teacher for a small, all-but-forgotten home for an array of handicapped children.
At work, and having discovered a reluctant friendship in another American, Truman's willfully seduced by the shopkeeper's wife, settling into a purposeful deceit as an uncommon love grows between them. But while reckoning with his certain return home, Ling's shopkeeper husband discovers his wife's affair.
This story of loneliness and need climaxes with Truman's search for Ling, vanquished from her home in disgrace. He searches because he loves her, and because he doesn't wish to sin against humanity twice in one lifetime, his first being maiming his childhood nemesis.
This tale, At the Table of Want, is about loneliness, love and why we need each other. Larry Kimport, the author of two other novels, lived in Malaysia for two years as a young man, maintaining a journal which he relied upon for pacing this story, for world happenings, and for cultural insights regarding the Malays, the Chinese and the Indians who unequally share the tropical Malay peninsula.
Make a little room, Huck Finn and Holden Caulfield; another American son, Truman Kramer, won't be ignored.
That August of 1977, Elvis Presley turned up dead on a Graceland bathroom floor. Truman thought of Mrs. Winslow and her 45s. A week later Mabel casually brought up the Peace Corps, as a television commercial aired a sunset panorama of tired adults leaving a partially erected structure on some African-looking savannah.
Mabel leaned forward. "That sounds so exciting, Truddy. Fritz would have enjoyed something like that if they had it back then."
"Is it the army or something?" Truman asked.
"Oh no. Not at all. It's a job where young people go to poor countries to help out." She sipped at her coffee, her attention fixed to the voice-over testimonial.