Somehow Form a Family by Tony Earley
Stories That Are Mostly True

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This is the book that in hardcover won unanimous praise from reviewers, who called it "beautiful and transcendent" (The Boston Globe), a book that "measures the arc of a culture's mortality in small, personal increments" (Star Tribune, Minneapolis), is written "in a poker-faced style that always seems on the verge of exploding into manic laughter or howls of pain" (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

They're right. Tony Earley is a writer so good at his craft that you don't read his words so much as inhale them. His first book of nonfiction is one of those unexpected classics, like Ann Lamott's Traveling Mercies, in which a great writer rips open his/her heart and takes the reader inside for a no-holds-barred tour.

In a prose style that is deceptively simple, Earley confronts the big things-God, death, civilization, family, his own clinical depression-with wit and grace, without looking away or smirking.


About Tony Earley

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Tony Earley was born & raised in Rutherfordton, North Carolina, & graduated from Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina. He attended the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, where he earned his MFA in creative writing, studied under Richard Yates, & won several fiction prizes. He is the author of the short story collection "Here We Are in Paradise" & he wrote the preface to "New Stories from the South 1999", by Algonquin Books. He lives with his wife & dogs in Nashville, Tennessee, where he is an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University.
Published January 1, 2001 by Algonquin Books, Chapel Hill. 192 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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In “Ghost Stories,” Earley takes his wife to New Orleans to investigate the haunted city: “We are looking for ghosts, but, I think, a good story will do.” And the final piece (“Tour de Fax”), another gem from Harper’s, follows him on a record-setting circumnavigational flight, recorded stop by st...

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Publishers Weekly

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Whether describing his father running away from home at age 13, his grandmother's obsessive religious fervor (she drove people from the house so she could speak to God) or an imagined conversation with his dead sister ("she would say 'What happened to you?' and I would say, 'My hair fell out' "...

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Book Reporter

Earley discusses his life from the time that he was roughly 10 years of age to his young adulthood in the course of 18 pages and, in lean, straightforward prose with a brevity of word and an abundance of metaphor, tells us everything we need to know not only about his own life but also the lives ...

May 01 2001 | Read Full Review of Somehow Form a Family: Storie...


According to the book jacket, Tony Earley’s collection of personal essays offers the reader a “view of the world from the edge, at the cusp.” Perhaps the intent of these essays is insight, I think to myself, and I begin the straightforward act of reading.

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