I Am One of You Forever

( 5 )

Overview

Wonderfully funny and also deeply touching, I Am One of You Forever is the story of a young boy's coming of age. Set in the hills and hollows of western North Carolina in the years around World War II, it tells of ten-year-old Jess and his family — father, mother, grandmother, foster brother, and an odd assortment of other relatives — who usher Jess into the adult world, with all its attendant joys and sorrows, knowledge and mystery.

Jess's father is feisty, restless, and ...

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I Am One of You Forever: A Novel

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Overview

Wonderfully funny and also deeply touching, I Am One of You Forever is the story of a young boy's coming of age. Set in the hills and hollows of western North Carolina in the years around World War II, it tells of ten-year-old Jess and his family — father, mother, grandmother, foster brother, and an odd assortment of other relatives — who usher Jess into the adult world, with all its attendant joys and sorrows, knowledge and mystery.

Jess's father is feisty, restless, and fun-loving. His mother is straitlaced and serious but accepts with grace and good humor the antics of the men of the family, a trait she learned from her own mother. Johnson Gibbs is the orphaned teenager who comes to live with them on their mountain farm. Life on the laurel-covered mountain is isolated and at times difficult, but for Jess it is made rich and remarkable through his relationship with his father and, especially, Johnson Gibbs.

Visiting the farm from time to time is a gallery of eccentric relatives who are surely among the most memorable creations in recent fiction. Uncle Luden is a womanizer who left the mountains years ago for a job in California that "paid actual cash money." Uncle Gurton has a spooky way of appearing and disappearing without ever seeming to enter or exit, but it is his flowing beard, which he has apparently never trimmed and which he keeps tucked inside his overalls, that is of most fascination to Jess.

Uncle Zeno is a storyteller. With the words "That puts me in mind of..." everyone around knows that he is about to launch into another of his endless tales. Uncle Runkin, who always brings his handmade coffin to sleep in whenever he visits, spends his time carving intricate designs into the coffin and trying to find just the right epitaph for his tombstone. Aunt Samantha Barefoot stops by for a brief spell, too. A country singer and cousin to Jess's grandmother, she is a woman of uncensored speech (Jess learns a lot from her) and honest emotions. Chappell tells the story of all of these characters in a series of chapters that range from fantasy and near farce to pathos. As notable for its lyrical descriptions of the rural settings as for its finely honed vernacular dialogue, I Am One of You Forever shows us a world full of wit and wisdom and the sadness at the heart of things. As one would expect from a poet like Fred Chappell, every line offers its own pleasures and satisfactions.

A rich and varied collection of stories about seekers of truth, who find it manifests itself in wonderful, humorous, and terrible forms. "One of the South's and indeed the country's finest writers . . . a novelist and poet of great range and talent."--Los Angeles Times.

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Editorial Reviews

Ken Kasriel
" ... [I Am] One of You Forever is of the same caliber as Mark Twain's finest stuff: witty, wise, with clean prose, enduring characters and its share of laugh-out loud funny bits. A few misty-eyed moments too, without any sense that Chappell is trying to manipulate the reader. (He is, of course, all authors are, but he is simply very subtle about it.) I consider myself something of a literary snob, but I have read this book three times over the last ten years; I suspect I will do so many more times in years hence. The book is a highly readable gem."
George Core
A novel to put on the shelf with Mark Twain, William Faulkner, and Eudora Welty.
—(George Core Washington Post Book World
Thomas Carlson
Fred Chappell I Am One of You Forever is a perfect balance of fantasy, tall tale, and fact. Written in extraordinarily lucid prose, this novel describes the experiences of a boy growing up in North Carolina in the 1940s.
Southern Magazine
David Guy
[Chappell]…writes with marvelous economy, gives his characters letter—perfect dialogue and describes them with wonderful vividness.
—(David Guy New York Times Book Review
Bob Summer
Such is the charm of Chappell's way with the story that the pleasures of his telling become deeper with each reading.
Atlanta Journal—Constitution
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807114100
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/1987
  • Series: Voices of the South Series
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 455,869
  • Lexile: 960L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.58 (w) x 10.34 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Meet the Author

A native North Carolinian and former professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Fred Chappell is the author of eight novels, two collections of stories, and numerous volumes of poetry, including the much-praised Spring Garden. Among Chappell's many honors are the Bollingen Prize in Poetry, the Award in Literature from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and membership in the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

OLD BIOFred Chappell is the author of four previous novels and a collection of short stories. He has also written several volumes of poetry, most recently Backsass (LSU Press). Mr. Chappell, co-recipient of the 1985 Bollingen Prize in Poetry, is professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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Table of Contents

The Overspill 1
1 The Good Time 7
2 The Posse 26
3 The Beard 48
4 The Change of Heart 62
5 The Furlough 75
The Telegram 93
6 The Storytellers 97
7 The Maker of One Coffin 119
8 Satan Says 135
9 The Wish 150
10 Bright Star of a Summer Evening 166
Helen 180
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I am one of you forever by Fred Chappell

    I am a North Carolinian and love to read books by authors from this wonderful
    state Tom Chappell has written several books that leaned more toward the
    dark side.
    I AM ONE OF YOU FOREVER is different. It is a book you will read over and
    over and not want to give away. I found myself buying more copies of the
    book rather than to give away the copy I had

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2003

    pure fun to read

    Some books you can appreciate, others you can enjoy. When both things happen at the maximum level, you know something special's going on. 'I Am One of You Forever' is a flat-out gem, both as a terrific story-- comical and profound--and as graceful prose as good as it gets. A Southern literature bullseye. Read it out loud, laugh out loud. What an extraordinary book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2003

    The answer is in the title.

    I read this book 6 years ago as a college freshman, I even had the distinct pleasure of meeting the author at the time. It is a book that I have never forgotten. Each, chapter, each story is a lifeteam in and of itself. I have bought this book as a gift for some of my best friends.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2000

    Coming of Age

    This is a great book about a man looking back at his life in his rural North Carolina community during World War II and how events in his life shaped who he is. The book is a story of coming of age, as well as the tragedy of loss. Very entertaining to read, it will make you laugh in some instances. A must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews

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