Beyond Yonder

by Stephen Morris
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When Darwin Hunter decides to update Over Yonder Hill (Alton Blanchard's history of the tiny Vermont hamlet of Upper Granville), the result is Beyond Yonder, a chronicle of the cultural divide between the entrenched natives and the invaders from the Land of Flat. From "Babysitters" to "Zucchinis" the contrasting world views are examined and skewered.

Beyond Yonder is part one of "Stories and Tunes," Stephen Morris's "four-part" trilogy of life in the rural North.

Beyond Yonder

by Stephen Morris
© Darwin Hunter 1987
privately published

Introduction
There are thirteen structures in Upper Granville, not counting outbuildings or the remains of a trailer complex established by a group of misguided Canadians in 1981 and demolished in 1983. The dominant edifice is the church, built by community artisans in 1839, the year of Hiram Blanchard's arrival. It is a solid structure, lacking the inspirational accent of a towering spire, but majestic enough to comment appropriately on the relationship of man and the cosmos in this rural setting.
Five houses predate the church. Four are standard capes, probably built by the same man in quick succession during the first influx of settlers. Although the years have given these structures individual personalities, they still bear the imprint of the same craftsman's hand. The other early building is the two-story, brick colonial built originally as a tavern. For more than a hundred and fifty years this place has set the standard for style and elegance in the community, and its respective owners have maintained it with careful pride.
The second wave of building came during the late 1800s. The schoolhouse and the Blanchards' two farmhouses, undistinguished but functionally well-suited structures, still stand. The schoolhouse is a one-room classic now converted to a residence. The Blanchard farmhouses are large with hodgepodge additions and extensions that tell of days when houses grew along with families.
The Blanchards' farmhand, Emil Dummerston Weed, lives in a house one step above a migrant worker's, but comfortable enough for his simple tastes. Oakley McBean, of Granville General Store fame, has a similarly modest domicile. Both are held together by tar paper and plastic, and are fronted by grounds cluttered with unfinished repair and fix-it projects. Between the two they have five snow machines, four truck caps, three tractors, two balers, three mowers, and nine cars, all in a state of advanced decay. Despite the frailty of their homes, Emil and Oakley never complain about the rigors of winter. Emil complains only when someone pronounces his name "A-meel," as if he was a goldurn Canuck. For both men, as long as there is enough wood for the stove and their feet stay dry, there is no test of the Elements that cannot be met.
By 1977, the year Alton Blanchard despaired, six houses in Upper Granville were vacant, and grass grew in the middle of the dirt road surrounding the valley. At just this nadir, with the community on the brink of extinction, the pendulum reversed its arc and gained momentum in the opposite direction. Real estate prices were very depressed, attracting young couples of limited means and high ideals. Within a short period, families named Clarke, Pisano, and Liebermann moved to town, a generation of hardscrabble-by-choice pioneers. All came from hardcore suburban backgrounds, seeking the same qualities of life as had Hiram Blanchard back in 1839. The new couples worked hard on their decaying farmhouses. For the most part they kept their distance from the natives, a mutually acceptable arrangement, although conducive to the creation of needless suspicions.
The next year Walt and Martha Gunion bought a contemporary abomination started, then abandoned, by a doctor with more money than sense. A retired realtor from Short Hills, New Jersey, Gunion quickly acquired the schoolhouse and one of the old capes know as the Cowdrey Place, thus establishing himself as the only rival to the Blanchards in terms of possession of the valley. It was a couple known as Darwin and Sammi Burger-Hunter, however, who put Upper Granville officially on the road to viability by purchasing the brick tavern that provides the community with its physical focal point. And when B. J. Bosco finally came to town, the balance of power, for the first time since the Abanakis had been chased up north, tipped to the newcomers.

"The balance of power." Here was a theme of Darwinesque proportions. As he first scratched the phrase onto a yellow legal pad with his blue Bic pen, he knew he had touched on the central theme of Beyond Yonder. This was not a folksy tale of rural quaintness, but rather an expose of a continuing, universal struggle. Within the intimate setting of their upper valley stage were played the small dramas that took on significance beyond apparent meanings. This was the charge of Darwin Hunter, to isolate and to remove the everyday events of rural life, then to magnify them, demonstrating the epic struggle for dominance, a timeless confrontation with roots stretching back to the origins of Man, the battle of the Flatlander and Chuck.


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What is a "Four-Part Trilogy?"

Next up from The Public Press: the first three books, revised and improved, in Stephen Morris's Vermont epic, the four part trilogy.

books in the Four-part Trilogy

Life has a way of interfering with art. Beyond Yonder, The King of Vermont, and Darwin and the Tunnel of Love were always intended by the author to be a single work, telling the epic story of the daily lives and times of the inhabitants of the tiny hamlet of Upper Granville, Vermont.

But life intervenes. It happens! Day jobs take priority. Parents grow old. Little publishers sell to big publishers. Editors move on to different jobs. Opportunities knock. Kids leave home. It happens! It happens! And it happens!

As a result, the epic novel came out in fits and spurts. First, Beyond Yonder. That's when the publisher got sold. Then, King of Vermont, that's when the editor quit. Meanwhile, a real life equivalent to Upper Granville began appearing on the pages of the Vermont Sunday Magazine. Now, the region had a name, Beyonder, to describe that part of Vermont that is next to nothing, but not far away from anywhere. Tales and More Tails is a collection of Beyonder's "Stories and Tunes."

The Public Press is pleased to present Beyonder in its original glory ficticious and non-ficticious. This is the Director's cut, digitally remastered, and in full Dolby sound. This is Beyonder at the peak of foliage, at the depth of Mud Season despair, in the procreational frenzy of the vernal kaboom, and in the enveloping eternity of an August night watching the meteors shower in a part of the world where you can actually still see them.

The four books in Stephen Morris
In Beyonder, 4 books make 1 trilogy
Stephen Morris
interview with publisher and author Stephen Morris
cover: Beyond Yonder by Stephen Morris
Beyond Yonder
by Stephen Morris
cover: King of Vermont by Stephen Morris
King of Vermont
by Stephen Morris
cover: Tales and More Tails by Stephen Morris
Tales & More Tales
by Stephen Morris
cover: Tunnel of Love by Stephen Morris
Tunnel of Love
by Stephen Morris

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