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Brighten the Corner Where You Are

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  419 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
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.
Paperback, 212 pages
Published August 15th 1990 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1989)
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Steve Lindahl
Feb 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Brighten The Corner Where You Are is a novel about Joe Robert Kirkman, a farmer who lives in the mountains of North Carolina. Joe Robert teaches. Teaching is something he is forced to do because he needs the money, but it is also something he's good at. Fred Chappell's book is about a single day during which this storytelling prankster's event filled life pushes him into situations where his humor, imagination, and capacity to think makes the lives of the people around him better. At the same ti ...more
Jan 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book was bizarre -- in a good way. It felt like Where the Red Fern grows meets the Scopes Monkey trial told by Richard Bach in a stream of consciousness journal entry. The story was a fun read - it all takes place in one very long and odd day for a nutty high school teacher. There were a couple of sections that I still don't really understand, and I could have done away with the last two pages, which were a bit of a hammer over the head in case I didn't get the point, but all in all, I'm gl ...more
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I like this author's writing. It's down to earth as well as ethereal and all a wonderful expression of the human condition, especially that of the good folk who live in western North Carolina. Just charming.
Karlyne Landrum
Jun 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book is full of quotes that just beg to be quoted: "The truth was, in fact, so sacred to my father that he generally refused to profane its sanctity with his worldly presence."
It could easily be titled "One Day in the Life of the Man 'everybody knows and who doesn't understand'". It is full of wisecracking one-liners, profound truths, unusual words that have been pleading to be spoken and scenes that, I think, will remain in my memory for a long time. Without a doubt the best debate on evol
Nicole Brown
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This delightful yarn of a book makes you think while it entertains.
Fred Chappell's writing just flows along into a lyrical journey of a book. To me the plot of this book wasn't as interesting as just reading and absorbing the language. It reminds me of George Clooney and John Goodman having a conversation in Oh Brother Where Art Though. You don't exactly know what's going on in places but the flow and the cadence of the language keeps you interested.

From the back of the book: "This story of a day in the life of Joe Robert Kirkman, a NC mountain schoolteacher,
Feb 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
Jess tells the story of his father's last day as a high-school teacher in Tipton, NC, in 1946.

Joe Robert Kirkman - sly prankster, country philosopher, farmer, dreamer and family man - has run afoul of the school board due to his even-handed approach to the theory of evolution. He's not at his best when he has to face the board as he's had such a bizarrely eventful day: a close encounter with a bobcat in a tree; rescuing a child from drowning; accepting a tribute from the parents of a suicide; co
Nov 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love the title of this novel and I bought a copy years ago for the title alone. I have been cleaning off my bookshelves, deciding what to keep and sell (a friend of mine is totally appalled that I could sell any of my books, but given that I live in 700 square feet that will soon be crammed with all things baby, I just have to!), and found this again. It’s a sweet, Southern story about the narrator’s father, a high school teacher and prankster in 1946. It’s one day in the life of this sly, inv ...more
JG (The Introverted Reader)
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 refer ...more
Sherry (sethurner)
Oct 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
"Who can tell us what my father was doing at three o'clock in he morning of a balmy May Friday in 1946? Why he was climbing a medium-sized intricate poplar tree."

Brighten the Corner Where You Are is the sequel to a book I read a decade ago, I Am One of You Forever. I'm a fan of much Southern writing, and Fred Chappell exudes a real North Carolina charm. Maybe a tad much of it. The story, narrated by Jess, is about his father Joe Robert Kirkman, and covers one exceedingly eventful day in Kirkman'
Robbie Forkish
Aug 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I rarely read books more than once. This is my third reading of Brighten the Corner Where You Are. This book is more or less my literary equivalent of comfort food: warm, lightly spiced, and very satisfying.

My favorite chapter, "General Science", is set in a classroom. The class is described as 'a murky broth of General seasoned with a light but noticeable sauce of Science.' The topic: the theory of evolution. The setting: western North Carolina in 1946. The narrator's grandmother's view that k
Jan 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A liar has a day where he can't tell a lie... though not in the way you'd expect. Plus, his every idea about his backwater surroundings and his role as an socially ambiguous status is called into question.

If I remember correctly, this is the second novel chronicling the adventure's of Jed's family, and it's a brilliant one. A day in the life of a rural farmer and science teacher, all told as a strange and funny trickster myth. It'd make a great Coen Brothers film.
Kitty Fogliano
Feb 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Chappell does an excellent job of creating characters, giving them voice and setting a humorous yet tender tone in this book. I didn't feel that the story was as "tight" as it could have been, and the ending left me a bit unsatisfied. However, I am interested in reading more by this author, as I was very impressed by his craft.
Apr 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: romantics
don't let the extraneous "moon" section and the (mostly) inane chapter one dissuade you--this is archetypal american lit--one day in the life of an extraordinary and endearing high school teacher--you must read (if you can even see through "happy tears")the goat on the roof and the school board meeting sections--chappell has a very kind heart--
Cristina Shaul
Jun 29, 2007 rated it it was ok
This is a good story to tell someone verbally -- the main character is quite a character. There's a chapter toward the end where I was actually laughing aloud, but overall, I found it hard to "get into" and it reminded me too much of some of the things I had to read in college that I didn't love.
Jan 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Chappell focuses the second of his Jess Kirkman novels on the narrator's father, Joe Robert Kirkman, essentially casting him sometimes as an Appalachian folk hero and sometimes as a hapless everyman. The book maintains the charm, wit and wonder of "I Am One of You Forever," though with a slightly different style, and does convey a moral and philosophical message.
David Sligh
Jan 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A tremendous book. It's funny, endearing, and a bit mystical. I had read Fred Chappel's poems before but never his fiction but found that they things I loved about his poems were just as strong or stronger in this novel. I'll definitely be looking for more of his books.
Feb 28, 2009 rated it liked it
3 and a half
I chose this for my book group at the nursing home and I think my ladies are going to like it. It was so different than I expected that I am not really even sure yet how much I like it. The fact that the entire book is only one day is a nice change of pace from most stories.
Mar 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
After absolutely loving "I Am One of You Forever", I was all set to adore this one too. Sad to say, it was not so. My favorite part was pages 3-7, prose as beautiful as the first book in this tetrology. The other 205 pages were just strange. I can't think of any other way to describe them.
Wes Young
Jan 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was great, though I've heard otherwise from other people who borrowed the book. It was really kind of a happy, up-lifting book, which is differnt from most books I read. It has a lot of cutesy parts in it and is really enjoyable!
Ruth Vanderhart
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Kami Tilby
Jul 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A pleasant escape into the country, complete with quirky characters and a sense of the wind blowing through the tall dry grass on a warm summer afternoon. A great summer read!
Aug 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful book about a teacher who gets in trouble for teaching evolution. It's funny and poignant.
Jim Booth
Oct 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
See my review at http://newsoutherngentleman.wordpress...

You can also find the link at my Goodreads page.

Thanks for stopping by. :-)
Tina Bembry
Mar 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
wonderful, cheeky, humurous writing with a lot of heart. The best mix of country stories told by a child of the country who is inexplicably also a wordsmith.
Oct 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Splendid! The story is nothing exceptional, but the writing style was lots of fun. Can only give it a three, but it's a strong three.
May 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Real Southern story telling. A wild ride, but with a message.... I'm not too sure about the message....
May 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Friends who are or are thinking about becoming teachers (and people from Appalachia)
I came for the story-telling and wordplay but stayed for the folksy tenderness.
Jan 24, 2009 marked it as to-read
I've only read the first chapter so far, and I'm stunned.
Nov 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Maurean by: bookring
A feel-good little book that brought a smile to my lips and a lightness to my heart
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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 about Fred Chappell...

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