No Place Like Homernby Randall Iveyrn”If any man hunger, let him eat at home.”rn— 1 Corinthians 11:34rnFamily Gatheringrnby Fred ChappellrnBaton Rouge:rnLouisiana State University Press;rn11 pp., %Tl.SQrnJayber Crowrnby Wendell BerryrnWashington, D.C.: Counterpoint Press;rn384 pp., $25.00rnFred Chappell’s Family Gathering,rnhis first book of poems since 1995’srnSpring Garden: New and Selected Work,rnis a collection of short verse portraits thatrnallows Chappell to display his considerablerngifts for miniature (a talent also onrndisplay in his epigram collechon C fromrn1993). There is no linear “plot” to this cyclernnor a readily discernible “theme”; thernbook is a gallery of personages, a family,rncome together for an unnamed purpose.rnThe subject is a familiar one for Chappell,rnand the command of his material isrnequalled by his display of formal dexterity’.rnBut aside from providing readers withrnthe pleasure of watching a master craftsmanrnat work. Family Gathering is a sadrnreminder that families today hardly everrngather anymore.rnFamily Gathering reminds us of a betterrntime, although it is in no way anrnanachronistic work. The whole spec-rnRandall hey lives and writes in Union,rnSouth Carolina.rntrum of human experience is here, fromrngreed to goodness, from chastity to concupiscence,rnfrom youthful innocence tornold age which has not necessarily attainedrnwisdom. Wliat family has not sufferedrnthe scourge of an Uncle Einar, arncigar-puffing hick who has made a littlernmoney in his lifetime and now feels it isrnhis duty to tutor others in the inexhaustiblernglories of capitalism?rnWlien Uncle Einar lets his intellectrnsoar.rnHis groundling kinfolk sit aroundrnand starernAs he sucks upon his velvety cigarrnAnd expatiates upon his Cadillac carrnSuch sterling precepts from his wisdomrnpourrnThat every bromide glows likerncinnabarrnAs he explains the profits of peacernand war,rnThe economies of nations near andrnfar.rnAnd how to gain the peso, drachma,rnkroner, yen, dinar.rnBy knowing who you know and beingrnwho you are.rnYet livid thunderstorms aroundrnhim roarrnWhen he contemplates the multitudinousrnpoorrnWho seem to lack the slightest instinctrnforrnKeeping the ravenous wolf outsiderntheir door.rnBut lest they spoil the pleasure ofrnthis hour,rnUncle Einar thrusts such thoughtsrnafarrnAnd pours a cognac from a Baccaratrnjar.rnOr his resourceful wife Wilma, whoserncharm bracelet grows with ornamentsrneach time Einar strays from the conjugalrnbed:rnYour Uncle Einar and his shinyrndomernAre more attractive than you realizernTo certain types a little past theirrnbloom:rnHis every misstep swells myrnmenageriesrnWith cunning little animals thatrnshinernAnd jingle on my bracelet display.rnAdding music to my old refrain:rnMARCH 2001/29rnrnrn