First published in 1973, this debut novel is the deeply moving coming-of-age story of Speer Whitfield, whose recollection of his upbringing and his large, remarkable, and often peculiar family evokes the forces that set the path for a boy’s growth into manhood in 1940s Appalachia.
Chuck Kinder is the author of four novels—Snakehunter, The Silver Ghost, Honeymooners, and Last Mountain Dancer—and three collections of poetry—Imagination Motel, All That Yellow, and Hot Jewels.
Kinder was born and raised in West Virginia. He received a BA and MA in English from West Virginia University, where he wrote the first creative writing thesis in school history, which evolved into his first novel, Snakehunter. He later caught a Greyhound and headed west to join friends living in San Francisco.
In 1971 Kinder was awarded the Edith Mirrielees Writing Fellowship to Stanford University, followed by the Jones Lectureship in Fiction Writing. He has been a writer-in-residence at the University of California, Davis, and at the University of Alabama, and he is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant and Yaddo’s Dorothy and Granville Hicks Fellowship.
At Stanford, Kinder became close friends with fellow students Raymond Carver, Scott Turow, and Larry McMurtry. His relationship with Carver inspired Honeymooners. His struggle to complete this book inspired the character Grady Tripp in Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys.
As a professor of creative writing at the University of Pittsburgh for more than three decades, Kinder served as the director of the creative writing program and helped foster the careers of Michael Chabon, Earl H. McDaniel, Chuck Rosenthal, Gretchen Moran Laskas, and Keely Bowers.
He now lives in Key Largo, Florida, with Diane Cecily, his wife of over forty years.
“A beautifully achieved novel, wrought in a prose warmed and contoured with kind of a sculptor’s touch, evoked in crystal-bright incidents which bend neither to sentiment nor easy bitterness.”
Scott Turow, San Francisco Chronicle
“An excellent novel about a West Virginia childhood. Kinder has, to begin with, a good sense of his region: he has rested his story on the firmest possible bases, namely character and place. His dialogue, particularly that of his female characters, is first rate. One would like to secure for this excellently crafted book all the readers one can.”
Larry McMurtry, The Washington Post
“A beautiful novel.”
Gurney Norman, author of Kinfolks: The Wilgus Stories
“A language feast, sweet and sad as the West Virginia landscape it describes. Ahead of its time when first published, this important novel now at last has a chance to find its true audience.”
Ed McClanahan, author of The Natural Man