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Brighten the Corner Where You Are: A Novel…
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Brighten the Corner Where You Are: A Novel (1989)

by Fred Chappell

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156676,544 (3.92)6
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Good story of a southern mountain teacher, full of beautiful prose and great characters. ( )
  Fernhill | Aug 20, 2013 |
I picked this up at a local library book sale, and I really got a bargain. This is a wonderful little book. It's written by someone who grew up in my area (always a bonus for me) and the setting is my area, so I can really relate to the characters. It's about a day in the life of a local school teacher, and does he have one heck of a day! Parts of the book had me laughing out loud! Don't let the title fool you--it sounds like something bright, cheery, and cheesy. I would say that the title refers more to the idea that we should each be ourselves, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. It may also refer to sort of shining a light on ignorance. Either way, I don't want to say too much, just read it if you like well-written, entertaining books that also have a message to them. ( )
  JG_IntrovertedReader | Apr 3, 2013 |
In Brighten the Corner Where You Are, Chappell returns to the pastoral setting of a small Appalachian farm town in Western North Carolina, and to his recurring character, Joe Robert Kirkman, a larger-than-life farmer, schoolteacher and prankster. (This novel is also narrated by Joe Robert's son, Jess.) But whereas Chappell's other novels were actually collections of loosely connected short stories, Brighten the Corner Where You Are has a more cohesive structure. It describes one pivotal day in Joe Robert's life.

The novel opens with a tall tale and ends with a dream. In between, Joe Robert has a series of misadventures. He faces down a treed wildcat on an early-morning hunting trip. He saves a little girl from drowning. He discusses philosophy with a ghostly janitor in the school basement and with an escaped goat on the roof. All of it culminates in a much-anticipated showdown with the school board over whether Joe Robert can teach evolution to the children of devout parents.

Brighten the Corner Where You Are is quite often funny on the surface, but underneath are musings on science, philosophy, lost youth, deferred dreams, doing what's right and being true to yourself. As with his other novels, Chappell sprinkles his story with just enough magic, folklore and absurdity to create an appealing, idealized world. This is my favorite of Chappell's novels, showcasing his gifts for language and imagery that reveal him to really be a poet disguised as a novelist.

First read in 1980s; reread in 2011 ( )
1 vote sturlington | Apr 29, 2011 |
folksy collection of tales from WNC ( )
  mnlohman | Sep 27, 2010 |
So good and sweet, it hurts. Nevertheless, enjoyed lots of it: "My grandmother believed that knowledge and wisdom were two separate things entirely and not even closely connected; she thought it possible that knowledge could sometimes be the bitter enemy of wisdom." and
"Man did not come to this planet merely to mark time. You never had simply to endure, to put up with. Except - when sometimes you did."
See what I mean?
  allsun | Jan 24, 2007 |
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For my mother
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We walked along the crackling road.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312050577, Paperback)

This story of a day in the life of Joe Robert Kirkman, a North Carolina mountain schoolteacher, sly prankster, country philosopher, and family man, won the hearts of readers and reviewers across the country.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:48:51 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In May of 1946 science teacher Joe Robert Kirkman's day begins with hunting a mythical devil-possum in the North Carolina mountains and ends in defending his job before the school board.

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