Somehow Form a Family: Stories That Are Mostly True

Somehow Form a Family: Stories That Are Mostly True

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by Tony Earley

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Praise for Tony Earley

"Tony Earley has a wonderful gift for deep observation, exact and wise and often funny." (Ellen Currie, The New York Times Book Review)

"He writes his stories with care, word by word and sentence by sentence, and they are distinguished by their feeling for the specifics of lives lived in one place, and for their intelligence,


Praise for Tony Earley

"Tony Earley has a wonderful gift for deep observation, exact and wise and often funny." (Ellen Currie, The New York Times Book Review)

"He writes his stories with care, word by word and sentence by sentence, and they are distinguished by their feeling for the specifics of lives lived in one place, and for their intelligence, and for their humor." (Charles Baxter)

"He sees beneath the surface, the calm water of everyday lives, into the hidden depths of the soul." (Lee Smith)

"What this guy writes is so true it makes sweat pop out on your forehead. Stay tuned. There's more to come." (Robert Inman)

Praise for his best-selling novel, Jim the Boy

"A radiant, knowing, pitch-perfect parable of childhood." (The New York Times)

"A dazzling first novelTThe apparent casualness of the plot masks extraordinary craft." (Newsweek)

"This exquisitely wrought storyTexhibits a clear-eyed maturity, and an understated daring, rarely seen in the most cutting-edge adult fiction." (Los Angeles Times Book Review)

"An oddly wonderful period pieceTThis little masterpiece may make you feel like flying." (The Seattle Times)

Editorial Reviews
Last year, Tony Earley delighted readers young and old with his novel Jim the Boy, a nostalgic portrayal of one year in the life of a ten-year-old growing up in Depression-era North Carolina. In Somehow Form a Family: Stories That Are Mostly True, Earley presents a collection of essays that fall into the gray space between fact and fiction, artfully and unironically piecing together the story of how he became the man he is today.
Library Journal
Somehow Form a Family proved to be a pleasant surprise to a reviewer who found Earley's Jim the Boy rather flat. This offering consists of stories, some fictional, others from his boyhood and more recent life, that should prove fascinating to adult listeners his age or older. Earley strikes some chords with tales related to growing up with black-and-white TV, parents separating, death of a close relative, coming of age and contemplating suicide in college, or simply being a rascally kid. There are both intimately confessional details of the author's search for spirituality and wry observations on the hype, madness, and marketing of an around-the-world record flight aboard an Air France Concorde. These stories will stick with the listener for quite some time. The work is written and read with care, expression, and the appropriate humor or irony by Earley. A fine addition to general adult collections; highly recommended. Cliff Glaviano, Bowling Green State Univ. Libs., OH Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Ten homespun personal essays—most published elsewhere—from the author of last year's acclaimed novel Jim the Boy. Earley grew up in a small-town, kudzu-covered corner of North Carolina more recognizable as the terrain of Thomas Wolfe than that of Dorothy Allison. Seven of these pieces explore his early years there, as a 1960s television acolyte, a squirrel-hunting dilettante, and, through it all, an astute, heartbreaking observer of the idiosyncratic people around him. The title story, which appeared in Harper's, serves as an introduction to this American boyhood, wholly transformed by a color, Zenith television set, replete with rooftop antenna. As the cornerstone entry here, a masterful exercise in metaphor, it's hard to imagine what more the author could have to articulate about his young life. But Earley thankfully only has more trenchant memories to spin. With "Hallway," in an equally unadorned language, but with more deeply felt remembrances, Earley recalls, with a child's perception, his extended family's peculiarities and his own fearful awe of his grandfather. A look at the odd Scots-derived Appalachian dialect of his youth ("The Quare Gene") leads to a reflection on the "shared history" that the author is losing with his highland ancestors. A similar wistfulness pervades "Granny's Bridge," a tribute to a time when crossing a bridge—and certainly not one to the 21st century—could enhance a person's outlook. In "Ghost Stories," Earley takes his wife to New Orleans to investigate the haunted city: "We are looking for ghosts, but, I think, a good story will do." And the final piece ("Tour de Fax"), another gem from Harper's, follows him on a record-settingcircumnavigational flight, recorded stop by stop in under 32 hours. Earley's skewering of the trip's corporate sponsors is good fun, and his capstone epiphany—that where he ended up, at home, is the only place he'd fly around the world to get to—rings true. Poetic, inspiring proof that you can go home again. Author tour

Product Details

Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.98(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.53(d)

Read an Excerpt

[ Somehow Form a Family ]

In July 1969, I looked a lot like Opie in the second or third season of The Andy Griffith Show. I was a small boy with a big head. I wore blue jeans with the cuffs turned up and horizontally striped pullover shirts. I was the brother in a father-mother-brother-sister family. We lived in a four-room house at the edge of the country, at the foot of the mountains, outside a small town in North Carolina, but it could have been anywhere.

On one side of us lived Mr. and Mrs. White. They were old and rich. Their driveway was paved. Mrs. White was the president of the town garden club. When she came to visit Mama she brought her own ashtray. Mr. White was almost deaf. When he watched the news on television, it sounded like thunder in the distance. The Whites had an aluminum travel trailer in which you could see your reflection. One summer they hitched it to their Chrysler and pulled it all the way to Alaska.

On the other side of us lived Mack and Joan. They had just graduated from college. I thought Joan was beautiful, and still do. Mack had a bass boat and a three-tray tackle box in which lurked a bristling school of lures. On the other side of Mack and Joan lived Mrs. Taylor, who was old, and on the other side of Mrs. Taylor lived Mr. and Mrs. Frady, who had a fierce dog. My sister, Shelly, and I called it the Frady dog. The Frady dog lived a long and bitter life. It did not die until well after I had a driver's license.

On the far side of the Whites lived Mr. and Mrs. John Harris; Mr. and Mrs. Burlon Harris lived beyond them. John and Burlon were first cousins. John was a teacher who in the summers fixed lawn mowers, including ours, in a building behind his house. Burlon reminded me of Mr. Greenjeans on Captain Kangaroo. He kept horses and let us play in his barn. Shelly once commandeered one of his cats and brought it home to live with us. Burlon did not mind; he asked her if she wanted another one. We rode our bicycles

Meet the Author

Tony Earley was selected by Granta as one of today's best young writers, The New Yorker featured him in its best young fiction writers issue, and his first novel, Jim the Boy, became a national best-seller. He is also the author of a highly praised collection of short stories, Here We Are in Paradise. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife and teaches writing at Vanderbilt University.

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Somehow Form a Family: Stories That Are Mostly True 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book might mean the most to a certain person, but I loved it! Mr. Earley's book is a collection of essays about his life and childhood. I think it's wonderfully written and a true joy!