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Not Even Immortality Lasts Forever

Mostly True Stories

List Price: $26.00

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

Not Even Immortality Lasts Forever is a vivid retelling of Ed McClanahan’s life, from his early years growing up in rural northeastern Kentucky to his departure for the West Coast in pursuit of a writing career. He shares vivid moments—from perilous swimming lessons in the Ohio River to his budding friendship with Ken Kesey—with enthusiasm, enlivening each story with narration that is both profoundly reflective and hilariously self-aware. Jovial, lighthearted, and unapologetic, Not Even Immortality Lasts Forever illuminates the value of the rural American mundane and the everyday moments that shape us.

McClanahan begins in his hometown of Brooksville, Kentucky, and chaos ensues as events from his childhood unfold. As a young adult, he grapples with the challenges of establishing himself as a writer, eventually leaving Kentucky to seek new prospects in California and Oregon. It is there that he is introduced to inspirational mentors and lifelong friends, among them Robert Stone, Larry McMurtry, and Neal Cassady. McClanahan molds vibrant characters from individuals he’s encountered throughout his life, crafting a playful and engrossing narrative that could almost be mistaken for fiction.

McClanahan skillfully encapsulates the setting and situations as seen through the eyes of his younger self, while offering poignant reflections on his sources of creative inspiration, family ties, and entrenched traditions. He draws connections between past and present, moments of reminiscence and reality, crafting a story that speaks to the importance of tracing one’s roots, even as times change.

About Ed McClanahan

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.


Priase for Not Even Immortality Lasts Forever

“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

Praise for I Just Hitched in from the Coast

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

Praise for O The Clear Moment

“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)

Praise for My Vita, If You Will

“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

Praise for A Congress of Wonders

“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

Praise for Famous People I Have Known 

“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

Praise for The Natural Man

“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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