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Somehow form a family : stories that are mostly true /
Tony Earley.
edition
1st ed.
imprint
Chapel Hill, N.C. : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, c2001.
description
xviii, 172 p. ; 23 cm.
ISBN
1565123026
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Chapel Hill, N.C. : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, c2001.
isbn
1565123026
catalogue key
4504044
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
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
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Excerpts
Flap Copy
The American genius for language lies in understatement...Earley has the courage to return to artistic first principals: clarity, balance, ease. (The New York Times Book Review) Tony Earley's view of the world is from the edge, at the cusp. Which is what this collection of personal essays is about - about how he stands with one foot in the rural mountains of his birth and upbringing and the other in the Brady Bunch's split-level. Born thirty-nine years ago, Earley was too late to be a Baby Boomer, too soon to be a Gen Xer. He grew up in the North Carolina mountains but says, "I go around telling anyone who will listen that I am from the country, but deep down I know it's a lie. I grew up on Gilligan's Island, in Mayberry, I'm not sure where." In a prose style that is deceptively simple (E. B. White comes to mind), Earley confronts the big things - death, civilization, family, his own clinical depression - with wit and grace, without looking away or smirking. He writes about how he's neither an adherent to the fundamentalism of his boyhood nor an unbeliever, and about how hard it is to find your place in the world without letting go of your authenticity. Clearly having lost patience with irony, Tony Earley is on a journey from faith, through disbelief, and into a new faith.and a new family. And he is a writer so good at his craft that you don't read his words so much as inhale them. His first book of nonfiction is one of those unexpected classics in which a great writer rips open his heart and takes the reader inside for a no-holds-barred tour.
Flap Copy
The American genius for language lies in understatement...Earley has the courage to return to artistic first principals: clarity, balance, ease. (The New York Times Book Review)Tony Earley's view of the world is from the edge, at the cusp. Which is what this collection of personal essays is about - about how he stands with one foot in the rural mountains of his birth and upbringing and the other in the Brady Bunch's split-level.Born thirty-nine years ago, Earley was too late to be a Baby Boomer, too soon to be a Gen Xer. He grew up in the North Carolina mountains but says, "I go around telling anyone who will listen that I am from the country, but deep down I know it's a lie. I grew up on Gilligan's Island, in Mayberry, I'm not sure where."In a prose style that is deceptively simple (E. B. White comes to mind), Earley confronts the big things - death, civilization, family, his own clinical depression - with wit and grace, without looking away or smirking. He writes about how he's neither an adherent to the fundamentalism of his boyhood nor an unbeliever, and about how hard it is to find your place in the world without letting go of your authenticity.Clearly having lost patience with irony, Tony Earley is on a journey from faith, through disbelief, and into a new faith.and a new family. And he is a writer so good at his craft that you don't read his words so much as inhale them. His first book of nonfiction is one of those unexpected classics in which a great writer rips open his heart and takes the reader inside for a no-holds-barred tour.
First Chapter
[ 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

Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2002-04-01:
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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2001-05-14:
"I loved the smell of incense as much as the smell of beer, and probably for the same reasons. The sad truth is that I do not like Christians very much, particularly when they congregate." Such quasi-non sequiturs characterize Earley's elegant, evocative and often provocative prose, which never slips into sentimentality or self-indulgent reverie. His memoir begins with his childhood in a small Southern town where time is measured by television sitcoms, and his parents marital problems and his sister's death are counterbalanced with Star Trek, MASH and Happy Days. Yet suicidal depressions encroach, as Earley grows up and gets married, though he eventually finds a material and spiritual life that suits him. Earley illuminates the nuances of accumulated experience without diminishing the external milestones. Whether describing his father running away from home at age 13, his grandmother's obsessive religious fervor (she drove people from the house so she could speak to God) or an imagined conversation with his dead sister ("she would say `What happened to you?' and I would say, `My hair fell out' "), Earley allows remarkable access to his inner life. As in his highly praised novel (Jim the Boy) and short story collection (Here We Are Today), he continues to create a unique, compelling voice that combines stylized prose with an emotional openness to complex truths. (May 25) Forecast: Up-and-comer Earley's literary work is poised for commercial success. Selected by the New Yorker and Granta as one of today's best young fiction writers, he will make appearances across the country on a 16-city tour. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, March 2001
Booklist, April 2001
Boston Globe, May 2001
Publishers Weekly, May 2001
Chicago Tribune, June 2001
New York Times Book Review, June 2001
Washington Post, July 2001
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Back Cover Copy
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)
Back Cover Copy
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)
Main Description
The bestselling author of "Jim the Boy" presents 11 startlingly honest personal essays about finding a place in the world without letting go of one's roots. In prose that is deceptively simple, Earley confronts the big things in his own life--God, death, civilization, family, clinical depression--with wit and grace, without looking away or smirking.
Main Description
This is the book that in hardcover won unanimous praise from reviewers, who called it "beautiful and transcendent" ( The Boston Globe ), a book that "measures the arc of a culture's mortality in small, personal increments" ( Star Tribune , Minneapolis), is written "in a poker-faced style that always seems on the verge of exploding into manic laughter or howls of pain" ( The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ). They're right. Tony Earley is a writer so good at his craft that you don't read his words so much as inhale them. His first book of nonfiction is one of those unexpected classics, like Ann Lamott's Traveling Mercies , in which a great writer rips open his/her heart and takes the reader inside for a no-holds-barred tour. In a prose style that is deceptively simple, Earley confronts the big things-God, death, civilization, family, his own clinical depression-with wit and grace, without looking away or smirking.
Main Description
Tony Earley is a writer so good at his craft that you don't read his words so much as inhale them. His first book of nonfiction is one of those unexpected classics, like Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies , in which a great writer rips open his or her heart and takes the reader inside for a no-holds-barred tour. Born thirty-nine years ago, Earley was too late to be a Baby Boomer, too soon to be a Gen Xer. Although he grew up in the North Carolina mountains, he says "I go around telling anyone who will listen that I am from the country, but deep down I know it's a lie. I grew up on Gilligan's Island, in Mayberry, I'm not sure where." Tony Earley's view of the world is from the edge, at the cusp. Which is what this collection of personal essays is about-about how he stands with one foot in the rural mountains and the other in the Brady Bunch's split-level, about how he's neither an adherent to the fundamentalist Christianity of his boyhood nor an unbeliever, and about how hard it is to find your place in the world without letting go of all you came from, without letting go of your authenticity. In a prose style that is deceptively simple (E. B. White comes to mind), Earley confronts the big things-God, death, civilization, family, his own clinical depression-with wit and grace, without looking away or smirking. Earley has clearly lost patience with irony, for his is a journey from faith, through disbelief, and into a new faith . . . and a new family.
Main Description
Tony Earley is a writer so good at his craft that you don't read his words so much as inhale them. His first book of nonfiction is one of those unexpected classics, like Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies, in which a great writer rips open his or her heart and takes the reader inside for a no-holds-barred tour. Born thirty-nine years ago, Earley was too late to be a Baby Boomer, too soon to be a Gen Xer. Although he grew up in the North Carolina mountains, he says "I go around telling anyone who will listen that I am from the country, but deep down I know it's a lie. I grew up on Gilligan's Island, in Mayberry, I'm not sure where." Tony Earley's view of the world is from the edge, at the cusp. Which is what this collection of personal essays is about-about how he stands with one foot in the rural mountains and the other in the Brady Bunch's split-level, about how he's neither an adherent to the fundamentalist Christianity of his boyhood nor an unbeliever, and about how hard it is to find your place in the world without letting go of all you came from, without letting go of your authenticity. In a prose style that is deceptively simple (E. B. White comes to mind), Earley confronts the big things-God, death, civilization, family, his own clinical depression-with wit and grace, without looking away or smirking. Earley has clearly lost patience with irony, for his is a journey from faith, through disbelief, and into a new faith . . . and a new family.
Table of Contents
Introductionp. xv
Somehow Form a Familyp. 1
Hallwayp. 19
Deer Season, 1974p. 51
Shooting the Catp. 57
The Quare Genep. 67
The Courting Gardenp. 81
Ghost Storiesp. 87
A Worn Pathp. 113
Granny's Bridgep. 127
Tour de Faxp. 137
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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