Brighten the Corner Where You Are

Fred Chappell, Author St. Martin's Press $15.95 (212p) ISBN 978-0-312-03297-5
This gentle, wryly comic look at one day in the life of a rural North Carolina schoolteacher, Joe Robert Kirkman, is narrated by his son Jess (seen in Chappell's earlier novel, I Am One of You Forever ). The year is 1946, and Joe Robert is no ordinary schoolteacher. He is a farmer, a hunter, a dreamer and a philosopher whose innovative teaching methods and evenhanded approach to the theory of evolution have irked the local school board--they have summoned him to a late afternoon meeting. His ideals and livelihood imperiled, Robert feels--understandably--apprehensive, and to make matters worse, that day's bizarre series of events (an unfortunate encounter with a treed bobcat, a courageous rescue of a drowning child, and several unsettling metaphysical discussions) have left him battered in mind and body. The meeting is hilarious, if inconclusive. A finely drawn series of minor characters, including stoic farmers and wives, tale-spinning coon hunters and a shrewd local reporter, enriches this modest yet deeply satisfying chronicle. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-312-05057-3
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4668-6046-9
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