Selected by the author, this anthology presents Chappell's work in a variet of forms--one complete novel, eight short stories, poems, a portion of four novels, and an Afterword. The Los Angeles Times wrote, "Not since James Agee and Robert Penn Warren has a Southern writer displayed such masterful versatility."
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This reader assembles portions of four novels, all of a short fifth one, some stories and a generous representation of Chappell's poetry (he shared the Bollingen Prize with John Ashberry in 1985). The scene of both fiction and verse is the author's native rural, western North Carolina; Chappell is a regionalist who speaks with the unmistakable authority of the native son. But his scene can also be the London visited by Franz Joseph Haydn, projected in a fanciful metaphoric tale (title story in the collection Moments of Light, or a university town (Chappell teaches at Duke). Seen in perspective, his work displays thematic range and venturesomeness; the collection offers a welcome opportunity to watch him shed the excessively literary and experimental manner of his early work. Present throughout are his taste for the strange and grotesque (as in the novel Dagon and a sense of hovering violence, as in the oblique "Children of Strikers," set in the mill town that is also a familiar presence in his work. In an afterword Chappell says that he is not an "important figure"; it is enough that he is a good, humane, versatile one.
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