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23 books of Fred Chappell

Fred Chappell is one of our most brilliant and versatile authors, with many novels, short stories, and volumes of poetry to his credit. This anthology bears witness to the scope of his career: a rich body of narrative and lyrical fictions ranging over history, mythology, science, philosophy, and Chappell's own life. He has been recognized as a storyteller "to put on the shelf with Mark Twain, William Faulkner, and Eudora Welty" (The Washington Post). The Fred Chappell Reader is full of stories, including a complete novel, Dagon; substantial portions of four other novels; several short stories (two of which are previously uncollected); and poems culled from his books, an achievement for which Chappell shared (with John Ashbery) the prestigious Bolligen Prize in 1985. Here is an important and thoroughly rewarding selection of work by a major American writer.

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These thirteen tales are populated by an assortment of fictional as well as real characters, all of them vividly sketched and true-­to-­life: the botanist Linnaeus, the composer Offenbach, the poet Hart Crane, the visionary horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, a southern sheriff, a dealer in rare books, a country singer, an old maid (and her suitor), and a mathematician. Whether these stories are deemed disquieting, comic, prophetic, or tall in the telling, they show us worlds where the truth reveals itself in many shapes. Throughout the writings comprising More Shapes Than One, Fred Chappell's storytelling magic transforms the commonplace.

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One of our most acclaimed and versatile authors, Fred Chappell is comfortably at home in fiction, poetry, and literary criticism. A Way of Happening gathers his essays and reviews of contemporary poetry. Chappell consider new writers as well as more established authors, including Alfred Corn, William Matthews, A. R. Ammons, Linda Pastan, Julia Randall, Cornelius Eady, Alan Shapiro, and many others. And there are essays on the plight of the critic ("Thanks but No Thanks") and the delicate role of the writing teacher ("First Night Come Round Again").

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The last in the Kirkman family cycle by one of our most treasured writersIn Look Back All the Green Valley, Jess Kirkman returns to the North Carolina mountain town of his boyhood to be with his ailing mother and finally settle the family's accounts after the death of his father ten years ago. Cleaning out his father's secret work room reunites him with the irrepressible Joe Kirkman and leads him to make new discoveries--­in the dusty room he finds an unusual machine made of stovepipe and ceramic, and a handwritten map. These clues lead him to uncover a part of his father's history he never knew. Rich in the story telling traditions of Southern Appalachia, Fred Chappell's magical novel celebrates a way of life that has passed. Look Back All the Green Valley follows Chappell's three previous novels--­Farewell, I'm Bound to Leave You, Brighten the Corner Where You Are, and I'm Am One of You Forever--­and concludes one of the most rewarding cycles of novels in recent memory.

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Farewell, I'm Bound to Leave You is rich with the music of the Southern mountains and the stories of their people. In this novel from acclaimed author Fred Chappell, Jess Kirkman's grandmother is dying, and Jess remembers the tales she and his mother have passed down to him--­a chorus of women's voices that sing and share and celebrate the common song of life.

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Brighten the Corner Where You Are is the story of a day in the life of Joe Robert Kirkman, a North Carolina mountain schoolteacher, sly prankster, country philosopher, and family man. This novel from award-­winning author Fred Chappell has won the hearts of readers and reviewers across the country.

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Solitary, graceful, and contemplative, cats have inspired poets from Charles Baudelaire to Margaret Atwood to serve as their chroniclers and celebrants. They have appeared, wrapped in their inscrutability, in verse both sensual and spiritual, weary and whimsical. With Familiars, Fred Chappell proves himself a worthy addition to the fellowship of poets who have sought to immortalize their beloved cats.

Here are cats as personalities, cats as art objects and historical figures, cats as reflections of human temperament. Chappell salutes the literary cats of decades past-­George Herriman's happy-­go-­lucky Krazy Kat, Don Marquis's grande dame mehitabel-­and the imagined cats who claim as their companions the characters from Chappell's own past poems. The cats in Familiars are alert and affectionate, equal parts cherished friends and unknowable mysteries.

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Yellow light filled the attic. The light locked with the dust--­tons of dust up here--­and the atmosphere of the place stuffed his head like a fever. It seemed that he perceived this light with every nerve of his body.­The attic was mostly empty but toward the south wall was a queer arrangment of chains; the ends dangled about seven feet from the floor and had broad iron bands attached. The bands were hinged on one side so they could open and shut. The chains looked red in the yellow light.­He held one of the bands and stroked his finger along the inside and it came away reddish. Rust, he thought; but it didn't flake; it wasn't gritty like rust. It was old, caked blood. . .­Slowly, Peter is mesmerized and begins a journey into madness where a bloodstained god waits to claim the mind and soul of the last of the Lelands.

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Books of Fred Chappell