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I Am One of You Forever

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  728 ratings  ·  78 reviews
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,...more
Paperback, 184 pages
Published July 1st 1987 by Louisiana State University Press (first published 1985)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,303)
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Julie Morrow
Fred Chappell tells a tale of a young boy living in a mountain town of North Carolina around the time of World War II. Jess is no older than a third grader, and as most young boys do, he admires his farmer dad and the family hand, Johnson Gibbs, a young man who was pseudo-adopted by the family via employment as a helper on the farm. Johnson and dad are mischievous, and Jess yearns to partake in the mischief, though oftentimes, he is a mere bystander or the object of the tricks. In this novel, yo...more
"The bright happy days darted past us like minnows."
Jess Kirkman, is a ten year old boy, growing up on a "scratch-ankle mountain farm", in western North Carolina. It is the early years of World War II. He lives with his parents, grandmother and an, older foster brother, he idolizes. Revolving through this wonderful coming of age novel, are a cast of visiting uncles and aunts, each more colorful and eccentric than the next, keeping Jess wide-eyed and awestruck.
The prose is gorgeous; poetic, touch...more
Mariam Al-Naqr
Read an Arabic translation by Nehad Seleha
نهاد صليحة

The book is not an ordinary adventure book. It is very funny but so touching too. The of integration of magical realism into the book is done very beautifully. There is a 4-page chapter called البرقية The Telegram ... it is one of the best things I've read EVER.
Anson Mount
The perfect rendering of a Southern childhood. I'm buying this book for people constantly
Fred Chappell is one of my favorite Appalachian writers--maybe one of the most enjoyable writers I've read in general. This book (published in 1985) is the first of what some call the "Kirkman Tetralogy"--four books narrated by Jess Kirkman. Jess would seem to be a thinly veiled autobiographical representation of Chappell. In this book, we visit his memories of preteen years growing up in North Carolina in the 1940s. We come to know the Kirkman/Sorrels family, particularly Jess's father Joe Robe...more
Raül De Tena
Pudiera parecer que Libros Del Asteroide se está centrando en la Norteamérica rural de mediados de siglo. Si Adiós, Hasta Mañana de William Maxwell (una de las últimas referencias de esta editorial) miraba hacia allá, Me Voy Con Vosotros Para Siempre hace lo propio... pero con ciertas variables más que gratificantes. Para empezar, el tono general de depresión social se ve ungido por una mirada infantil que no duda en incurrir en un realismo mágico que tiene muchísimo más de poesía que de (¡Dios...more
Funny book, and the blurb on the back is accurate when Fred Chappell is compared to Eudora Welty. They are certainly similar in their styles. However, I believe Welty is the stronger writer, and if one is looking for Southern/country comedic writing, I would recommend both writers, though I would personally lean toward Welty over Chappell.

I thought the first half of the book (prior to The Telegram) was better than the second half. I don't know why that was...perhaps I was just getting tired of...more
Black Elephants
This was a lovely, slice of life book by Fred Chappell. I'm not sure if it is a collection of short stories made into a novel or was originally intended as a novel, but the final product is filled with loveliness. I think what surprised me was the balance between realism and surrealism. The book begins very realistically. The language paints the landscape with such care. Then, the surrealism pops in, like in the story "The Beard." Our characters want to find out how long an uncle's beard is and...more
How do I explain a book like, "I Am One of You Forever"? It was deeply satisfying - the luminous prose, the tying up of loose ends...just tight enough...the mix of strange and commonplace. There are few books that cause me to make audible sounds when I read them (unless I'm reading aloud of course). This book made me laugh outloud as well as gasp at the pure genius of how Chappell strings words together. His writing is filled with unique similes and metaphors, creating clear pictures for my mind...more
The ending!!! Oh my, it made it all worth it! I love when the title of the book makes sense only after you read the whole story - definitely the case with this one. Strange book, it totally got better towards the end, though.
This has been in and out of my "to read" pile for close to 15 years. I am so glad it made it to the top of pile when I needed lots of laughs. Another title might be "Men (and the Boys Who Love Them) Behaving Badly in a Kinder, Gentler Time." Pick this one up when you need to be reminded of one universal truth--families, whether they have all the advantages or not, are only as strong as the love, patience, and acceptance they give each other.
My all-time favorite book. It is a masterpiece of Appalachian story-telling, seamlessly blending the fantastic with harsher realities. I have never wanted so much to read a book aloud, as it needs a mountain twang to be heard properly. Amazing imagery, vivid characters (real people? who can say?). A book with great heart.
Richard Wright
It has been a while since reading but remember just loving every part of this book.
Favorite Quotes

The tear on my mother’s cheek got larger and larger. It detached from her face and became a shiny globe, widening outward like an inflating balloon. At first the tear floated in the air between them, but as it expanded it took my mother and father into itself. I saw them suspended, separate but beginning to slowly drift towards one another. Then my mother looked past my father’s shoulder, looked through the bright skin of the tear, at me. The tear enlarged until at last, it took m...more
This story is told from the perspective of a young boy, or sometimes from the perspective of a grown man reflecting upon his childhood. The story line is rather time fluid, and episodic, which might seems difficult at times, but press through and it's worth it. I have enjoyed this book for its (almost) magical realism, and fantastic imagery, and the quirkiness of the characters. At points, I literally laughed out loud.
The only qualm I have with this book is that Chappell doesn't expand the cha...more
Chappell's prose is like poetry - not surprising, given that he's a poet. This is the first in a series of 4 books about Jesse Kirkman, focusing on his marvelous, quirky, fun-loving dad and their special relationship. This is the BEST of the 4 books - uproariously funny, touching, sweet, beautifully written.
Heh. This is on my top ten of alllll time. Fred's one of my favorite writers. He's from NC, so he's most certainly a southern writer. More specifically, he's from the mountians of Applachia, and entirely distinct and interesting culture if you've never ventured to that part of the country. This book is told through the POV of Jess Kirkman, a young boy growin gup on a farm in the NC mountains and a thinly veiled depiction of the author's early life. The writing is rich, evocative and poetic. A se...more
Aaron Coder
A river flows from an old man's beard. What's not to love?
Beth Ingersoll
Not a bad read...
I just like steeping in these stories and feeling boundaries blur. Enjoying without needing anything to "happen." I like this as a whole, but also often find myself sitting down to read chapters here and there. I'm still debating on whether or not to run the whole thing on any level. Chapters could probably be taught individually. I like "The Beard," "The Telegram," and "The Storytellers" in particular. Joe would probably say this is my "southern-fried side" coming out. And also my nostalgic sid...more
I wrote my master's thesis on the Kirkman Tetralogy of which this is the first (and best) novel. Magic realism, agrarian themes, encroaching industrialism, all wrapped up in the remembrances of a grown man thinking back on his childhood on a farm in the north carolinia mountains during WWII. I haven't expained it's magic or warmth at all, but believe me it is a feel-good story with bittersweet undertones that is wonderfully written and beautifully described.
It took me awhile to remember this book as I was entering this, and I only read it last year. (In fact, at first I thought I hadn't read it, but then I saw my telltale lines under words I don't know and sentences I really like, so I knew I had read it.) My amnesia is probably more a function of the horrible year I was having than of the quality of this book... But since I can only vaguely remember it now, I'll just give it a middling review.
A boy's up-bringing on a North Carolina farm in the 40s told with dialect--a lot of aint's--and Baptist infusions but this is no fried green tomatoes story. This is writing of a master. Just when you least expect it his stories turn into magic realism, then back to reality, back and forth with ease and skill. I did not want this book to end. I understand this is the first of the series and I have not yet read them all.
Namedoris Powell
At first I wasn't impressed with this book. I had read one other book by Fred Chappell and liked it. But this book was rather slow in getting started. I guess after thrillers by James Patterson and others, this would naturally be a slow read. But the story picked up with the introduction of unusual characters in the book. I loved Uncle Zeno, Uncle Runkin, and Aunt Sam Barefoot. It turned out to be a surprising novel.
How I love this book. I re-read it this summer for the zillionth time. This is the first of a trilogy which should be read back-to-back, as one book.

Actually, it is part of a quartet - the fourth book was written many years after the first three. Don't read it, it's not terribly good, and it ruins the whole feeling and flavor of the first three.

I adore the characters in these books.
If 4.5 stars were an option, that would be my choice for this novel. The voice is just so dead-on, managing both to be poetic and hilarious in turn. Calling it a coming-of-age book sounds rather sappy, but I suppose underneath that's what it is. It's not my usual choice of narrators (a teenage boy) but I think a narrator like this supersedes demographic. Wonderful characters and language.
I really liked this book - the writing style, the magical realism, the descriptions. I found some of it confusing/disjointed though, almost as though it was separate stories compiled, but out of order (how old is the narrator?! It seem that he gets older, then younger, then older again). The last chapter, about Helen, was also very confusing. But despite that, I really liked the book.
Having grown up in the same town as Chappell (the town upon which the setting of this book is loosely based), I first read I Am One Of You Forever in freshman honors English in high school. At a recent event, I ran into Mr. Chappell and the English teacher who assigned the book back in high school, and I was inspired to read the book again. What a true Appalachian treasure!
Jun 25, 2011 Dana rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 1991
I forgot about the fact that I never reviewed this book until I read Sarah Addison Allen's novel The Peach Keeper and the magical realism reminded me of Chappell's novel. This book bore a hole right through the center of my heart when I read it. It's a gorgeous book, and when I read it, I had never read anything like it before.
Joe Nelis
A delightful and touching example of magical realism, regardless of whether or not Mr. Chappel wants to recognize it. Somewhat disjointed, but in a good way. The Mother is inexplicably silent throughout this story, even though she's a live, well, and seemingly strong willed to endure the chicanery of her husband.
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Fred Davis Chappell retired after 40 years as an English professor at University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He was the Poet Laureate of North Carolina from 1997-2002. He attended Duke University.

His 1968 novel Dagon, which was named the Best Foreign Book of the Year by the Academie Française, is a recasting of a Cthulhu Mythos horror story as a psychologically realistic Southern Gothic.

His l...more
More about Fred Chappell...
Brighten the Corner Where You Are: A Novel Farewell, I'm Bound to Leave You: Stories Look Back All the Green Valley: A Novel Dagon More Shapes Than One: A Book of Stories

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“Our thoughts were so awesome to us, that no one could speak a word, not even ‘Goodbye.’ We hugged and clasped and wept silently.” 11 likes
“In the midst of life, we are in death.” 5 likes
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