Fred Chappell is a wonderful storyteller whose novels of life in the North Carolina Piedmont can elicit both laughter and tears, often in the same paragraph. I have been rereading some of my favorite Chappell books and in doing so am reminded of why I love them so.
Farewell I’m Bound to Leave You is wonderful place for readers new to Chappell to start. Jess Kirkman and his father sit in the living room of their house, while in the back bedroom, Jess’s grandmother is dying, attended by her daughter, Jess’s mother. The book that follows is a series of short, interconnected pieces that all deal with the stories of women whose lives have touched and illuminated the lives of the Kirkmans.
Jess and his father relive these stories, which often have at their center Jess’s grandmother, whose death will leave an unbearable gap in the family’s lives. Chappell’s writing style is lyrical, and there is a thread of things outside reality that weaves through the stories. He eloquently captures the speech patterns of rural North Carolina, and his grasp of myth and legend make his characters come alive for the reader. Chappell reminds us of the importance of story to our lives in a thoughtful and moving way.
For more Southern authors and the stories they tell, be sure to see our list of Great Southern Fiction
Check the WRL catalog for Farewell I’m Bound to Leave You