I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Monday, July 31, 2017

Brighten the Corner Where You Are by Fred Chappell

This book takes place mainly over the course of one day in the life of Joe Robert Kirkman.  He is a farmer who is a teacher at the local high school.  At the beginning, he wrestles with the wicked devil possum while out in the woods at night with his buddies of the Crazy Creek Wildlife Appreciation Committee, where the membership dues are five hundred dollars a year but are refundable when you see your first fox. Membership is also contingent upon having a hunting dog, which Joe Robert doesn't have since his dog died at some point, but they let him remain on as an honorary member.

He has a big meeting that day with the school board after school so he dresses in his best suit, which gets immediately wet when he rescues a girl in the creek. He is forced to put on a ridiculous outfit because it is all that the town store owner has for him to wear.  He is also forced to wear new brogans which are tight on his feet.  His day doesn't get much better as he faces more trials and tribulations before the big showdown at the end of the day.

Joe Robert is a liar, as he freely admits unless it comes to talking about certain inalienable facts of life or science. He is also a jokester and prank-puller and philosopher.  He's in trouble with the school board for introducing evolution to his students. One of the parents complained and the school board had to respond.  He doesn't know how the school board will respond, but as the day wears on he imagines the worse.

This book is a pure delight to read. It's a real yarm of a tale.  This book is also the second book in the Kirkman quartet. However, I did not know this until after I had read this book and I feel as though the book stands on its own.  I am curious about the other books after reading this one since I enjoyed it so much.  I"m interested in finding out what happens to Joe Robert.  I highly recommend this crazy book.

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. But for my father, knowledge was the necessary precondition for wisdom; he thought that he needed to acquire a great deal of knowledge to ponder on until he formed it into wisdom, the way a sculptor shapes a statue from his stone.
-Fred Chappell ( Brighten the Corner Where You Are p 7)

“Aw now, Mackail,”my father said, “you’re not an old man yet.” “Well then, I’m disappointed,” he said, “because I’ve sure worked at it long enough.”
-Fred Chappell (Brighten the Corner Where You Are p 21)

He had discovered a universal law, one that he felt ought to be enshrined in the physics textbooks along with those of Galileo, Pascal, and Newton: A man falling in space toward the nearest center of gravity will be attacked by a whole bunch of foolish notions.
-Fred Chappell (Brighten the Corner Where You Are p 26)

Take away the stuff of tears, there is nothing left to make laughter of.
-Fred Chappell (Brighten the Corner Where You Are p 35)

“Is that what I told the class, Janie, that mankind was descended straight from monkeykind?” “No sir. You said that man seemed to be trying to evolve into an animal as nice as a monkey, with an embarrassing lack of success.”
-Fred Chappell (Brighten the Corner Where You Are p 70)

“Age,” he said, “before beauty.” “Myth,” my father replied, “before history. Thought before action.”
-Fred Chappell (Brighten the Corner Where You Are p 85)

Disappointed with his later colorless years, he would, my father surmised, wind up a dope fiend or a literary critic.
-Fred Chappell (Brighten the Corner Where You Are p 139)

The fact is that Dr. Darwin was mistaken. We did not begin as blobs of simple slime and work up to higher states. We began as innocent germs and added to our original nature cunning, deceit, self-loathing, treachery, betrayal, murder, and blasphemy. We began lowly and have fallen from even that humble estate. Dr. Darwin has searched for the truth. It is the nature of the human animal to subject its earnest seekers and most passionate thinkers to humiliation, degradation, imprisonment, and execution.
-Fred Chappell (Brighten the Corner Where You Are p 211-12)


No comments:

Post a Comment