Family Gathering Poems
- List Price: $16.95
- Binding: Paperback
- Publisher: Louisiana State Univ Pr
- Publish date: 11/01/2000
- ISBN: 9780807126264
- ISBN10: 0807126268
Framed by the observations of Elizabeth, "age eight, /Priss-proudin her finery and bored / Bored bored", the collection introduces ebullient Cousin Marjorie, self-satisfied Uncle Einar, evasive Cousin Lilias, cunning Aunt Wilma, aged Uncle Nahum, convivial Uncle Hobart, confusing Aunt Alicia -- set down in poems terse, witty, sympathetic, thoughtful, and satiric. Cousin Elmer "tends the family tree, / Shapingit to topiary rare / And strange as he trims a little here and there / And lops some ugly branches drastically". Cousin Lola "charts her paramours / On a performance scale from One to Ten / And then announces publicly the scores". Uncle Brit "cuts you off before you say / Two sentences and lets you know / He knows already what you think / And what you think is pretty dumb". And Aunt Agnes, ever forgiving, "recognizes what we are, / Yet holds us in affection / As steadfast as the morning star, / As if our faults had no connection / With the persons we are within".
Although there is no continuous story line, the poems in Family Gathering almost amount to apiece of fiction. We leave these lines with full knowledge of the characters -- their personalities, prejudices, idiosyncrasies, and intricate relationships with one another. Chappell gives us gossip, but also gossip parodied. If your family is like most, sparks of recognition will leap from every page. With results like those of the Polaroids taken by the family photographer, Chappell "makes us look as scary / As old woodcuts in a bestiary -- / But maybe, after all, that's us".
Varied, humorous, and, above all, true, Family Gathering is pure mean fun.