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Not Even Immortality Lasts Forever

Mostly True Stories

List Price: $25.00

ON SALE: February 18, 2020 | Hardcover | 5.5 x 8.25, 272 pages | ISBN 9781640092600
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McClanahan crafts his coming-of-age tales with comic wit and refreshing honesty, inviting readers to relive the memories that shaped his character and career–from hilarious childhood antics in small-town Kentucky to eye-opening adventures on the West Coast

A good story has a mind of its own and knows exactly where it wants to go; it seeks its truth the way water seeks its own level. But where is the line between memory and imagination, between nonfiction and the telling of a good story? In the mostly true stories that make up Not Even Immortality Lasts Forever, Ed McClanahan intrepidly tests the limits of that distinction.

This gathering of fiction-infused autobiographical stories opens in the postwar 1940s with the sudden, brief appearance of an itinerant street performer in McClanahan’s sleepy rural Kentucky hometown, an elderly bicyclist whose artistry seems, to the fourteen-year-old narrator, almost divinely inspired. Subsequent stories trace McClanahan’s uneasy but ultimately tender relationship with his no-nonsense “bidnessman” father and, simultaneously, his growing awareness of his own calling as a writer. McClanahan writes his way into the fabled Stanford University Creative Writing Program and forms lasting friendships with Ken Kesey and his then-notorious cohort, the Merry Pranksters.

After returning to Kentucky in the 1970s, McClanahan published his long-awaited novel, The Natural Man, in 1983, the first of seven well-received books. In 2019, he was inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.

About The Authors

ED MCCLANAHAN is the author of several books, and his writing has appeared in Esquire, Rolling Stone, and Playboy. McClanahan has taught English and creative writing at Oregon State University, Stanford University, the University of Montana, and the University of Kentucky. He and his wife live in Lexington, Kentucky.

ED MCCLANAHAN, a native of northeastern Kentucky, is the author of several books, including The Natural Man and Famous People I Have Known. He is the recipient of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship, two Yaddo fellowships, and an Al Smith Fellowship. He has taught at Oregon State University, Stanford, the University of Kentucky, the University of Montana, and Northern Kentucky University. He lives in Kentucky with his wife.

Praise

"This book is all over the map--in the best possible ways. Long admirers of McClanahan don't want McClanahan Bound. We want him, as here, available in all his florid, wide-ranging, unpredictable, savvy, and sassy (and, I'm sorry, yes, extremely humane) abundance. Somewhere in him resides the restless, extravagant spirit of Mark Twain."—Richard Ford

"I'm sorry, all you lovers of The Natural Man et al., but Not Even Immortality Lasts Forever may be Ed McClanahan's best book yet. Never again can I say that I don't laugh out loud--or walk around reciting to the closest human--while reading a book. McClanahan has cornered the market in self-deprecation. This memoir belongs on the same shelf as Nordan's Boy with Loaded Gun and the works of David Sedaris. What a great, comical joyride by a large-hearted man."—George Singleton, author of Staff Picks

"To tell about his early years in Kentucky, Ed McClanahan has channeled the voice of Mark Twain and propelled us off to military camp and Southern Gentlemen's college (you will want to read this book just to find out what he did with the dress code there) and even to an extravagant launching party of his parents' houseboat. From tall tale to artful hyperbole, the verbal wizardry in this fabulous book is tops. McClanahan always has a blast with words, running the language around in circles. He can't just say 'a humble abode' when 'a humble ensquatment' will do. So much here is fresh and invigorating--and often tender and sweet. His portrayal of his father is especially touching. And there are dogs. I will treasure this memoir forever. It's immortal!"—Bobbie Ann Mason, author of In Country and The Girl in the Blue Beret

"A master of comic fiction and humorous essays."—David Pitt, Booklist

"Classic McClanahan: the tale of the perennial underdog who, despite all odds, redeems himself in the end, snatching a moment of dignity from the clutches of humiliation."—San Francisco Chronicle

"A vivid expression of this aesthetic, an 'implied autobiography' . . . a perfect encapsulation of what McClanahan's been up to all along."—Los Angeles Times

"Playful, self-deprecating and wickedly sharp, McClanahan's nine autobiographical short stories delve into youthful shenanigans and poignant first love in the 1940s . . . McClanahan muses on the writing life and classic Americana with giddy nostalgia and gently barbed humor."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Most people who have had as much fun as Ed McClanahan are dead."—Bob Edwards, Lexington Herald Leader

"This collection is a devil-may-care miscellany of early short fiction, collaborations, reviews, magazine articles, even an irreverent obituary. The short stories are as gaudily excessive as the author cheerfully acknowledges them to be. Of more general interest are the nonfiction pieces, in all their variegated glory."—Boston Globe

"This is the writing of a true American original."—Robert Stone, author of Death of the Black-Haired Girl

"A Kentucky native drawn to California by a writing fellowship, McClanahan has parlayed his Southern provincial sensibilities and front-row-at-Fillmore-West experiences into a mastery of language, and a valuable sensibility . . . With help from editor Tom Marksbury (who also contributes an afterword), McClanahan has exposed himself as it were, laying bare the history of his entire body of work."—Publishers Weekly

"Readers will certainly enjoy the short story 'The Little-Known Bird of the Inner Eye, ' in which a sculptor from Kansas goes to pursue his art in the Pacific Northwest and there meets a character he'll never forget. And try McClanahan's review of Richard Brautigan's Revenge of the Lawn for an example of keen critical discernment."—Booklist

"As with Mark Twain and Flannery O'Connor, it's not the plotting that matters but the telling, which is often . . . simultaneously wicked, compassionate, and hilarious."—Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Quaff of this literary elixir. You won't regret it."—Newsweek

"McClanahan is a writer worth waiting for."—USA Today

"Wonderful stuff."—Miami Herald

"What a treat it is to pick up a book, begin reading, then break out laughing deep from the gut not once, but repeatedly."—Bookpage

"Simply one of the funniest writers around."—Lexington Herald-Leader

"Ed McClanahan's A Congress of Wonders is exactly that. The stories are wonderful, to be sure, but the real wonders are the words. Every word is precisely amazing, just right for the job. The writing is a rare pleasure, funny and exhilarating and fulfilling."—Bobbie Ann Manson, author of The Girl in the Blue Beret

"Ed McClanahan proves once again that he is one of our truly fine writers . . . a down-home American Original. This book sings with fresh wonders."—James Welsh, author of The Heartsong of Charging Elk

"Inimitable . . . McClanahan's old-timey slang and down-home wit endow his trash, drifters, cons, and rubes with poetry and magic."—Kirkus Reviews

"Artfully told, these droll, neo-gothic fairy tales are richly embroidered with threads of alchemy--and love."—Publisher's Weekly

"Mr. McClanahan makes us laugh with his recollections of the innocent beginnings of the 1960s and that laughter is a value all by itself."—Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times

"McClanahan's pungent tales of the fools he's known and the fools he's been will linger long in the reader's mind."—Newsweek

"A curious combination of raw four-letter explicitness and high literary style. The combination is exhilarating."—People

"McClanahan's picaresque account of his immersion into the revolutionary excesses of the 1960s--the consciousness expanded 'through the miracle of chemistry, ' endless parties, many protests--reminds readers that at the heart of that frequently maligned decade was a great deal of fun."—Lexington Herald-Leader

"Your 'Ken Kesey, Jean Genet, the Revolution, et Moi' is fabulous. I had never heard of Kesey's encounter with Genet before, but in your pages I could see and hear it all. You've captured both of them perfectly. 'Furthurmore: An Afterword' is great stuff, too. In fact, the whole book has a wonderful rollicking momentum."—Tom Wolfe, from a letter to Ed McClanahan

"As a product of literary art, Famous People I Have Known is unique and great. As autobiography, it is peerless. As social history, it is an act of sanity redeemed by humor. As comedy, it is ever nourished by good sense. Please bring it back into print and keep it in print, so that it will be always available to the people of Kentucky, whose treasure it rightfully is."—Wendell Berry, author of The Art of Loading Brush

"McClanahan's autobiographical accounts are so lively that they sound more like fiction; his outrageous experiences with trendsetters and cultural luminaries of the 1960s are reported with the detail of a retrospectively clear-headed but capricious artist."—Publishers Weekly

"I predict it will eventually find its place beside great coming-of-age books like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Catcher in the Rye . . . There are endless riches in this small masterpiece, not the least of which is the language itself."—Ivan Gold, The New York TImes Book Review

"A surprisingly elegant novel. Graceful, earthy, and very funny, it is a delightful entertainment."—Harper's

"A baroque comic stylist of absolutely the first order."—USA Today

"Written in a way curiously reminiscent of Eudora Welty in a winsome mood--which is to say that it is written perfectly, with grace and charm."—Chicago Tribune Book World

"Earthy, life-affirming humor and splendid writing."—Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Other have observed the natural man in the American condition before, but nobody has done it with such good humor. Ed McClanahan's good humor both sharpens his eye and gentles his vision. I don't know where else, now, you would find workmanship that is at once so meticulous and so exuberant."—Wendell Berry, author of The Art of Loading Brush

"A triumph of humor, wisdom, and language."—Robert Stone, author of The Dead of the Black-Haired Girl

"The Natural Man is joyous, unprecedented, heart warming."—Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

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