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Losing Battles Paperback – August 11, 1990


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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Three generations of Granny Vaughn's descendants gather at her Mississippi home to celebrate her 90th birthday. Possessed of the true storyteller's gift, the members of this clan cannot resist the temptation to swap tales.

About the Author

One of America's most admired authors, Eudora Welty was born in Jackson, Mississippi, which is still her home. She was educated locally and at Mississippi State College for Women, the University of Wisconsin, and the Columbia University Graduate School of Business. She is the author of, among many other books, One Writer's Beginnings, The Robber Bridegroom, Delta Wedding, The Ponder Heart, Losing Battles, and The Optimist's Daughter. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (August 11, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679728821
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679728825
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #515,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This book is very funny.
N. Cooley
Too much like a play and surely not enough PLOT..we all finished it by duty.....I hear her short stories are much better.
bookclub
The novel received great critical and popular acclaim upon publication.
Robin Friedman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By D. Cloyce Smith on April 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
In "Delta Wedding" Eudora Welty explored the dynamics of a family wedding; "Losing Battles," which greatly resembles her earlier novel, is a similar yarn about a family reunion. The cause for the celebration is Granny Vaughn's 90th birthday, but the relations also gather for her grandson Jack's return from prison and to learn that the schoolteacher who had taught (and tortured) three generations of Banner's inhabitants has passed away that very morning.
Told almost entirely in dialogue, this novel reads like one of the lengthiest plays ever written. Welty moves from one conversation to the next, recording every word spoken by every character, rarely describing what they are thinking or how they are feeling, and supplying the "action" only when necessary. I can imagine that some might find this technique tiresome, but I couldn't stop turning the pages. Yes, it's a long read, but it's an easy one.
The novel displays Welty's usual small-town humor: townfolk so closely bound that they are unable to hold a grudge (Jack even comes to the aid of the judge who sentenced him), rapid-fire and droll sarcasm among family members ("What's a morning yell for?" "Mainly to show you're still alive after the night."), and rural parochialism and ignorance that are more endearing than disquieting. The one surprise (for Welty) is the pure slapstick of the situation created when the judge's car teeters on the edge of an incline--which it does for most of the length of the novel--and the family's various attempts to bring it safely down; the last chapter is more Keystone Cops than her usual high-brow Faulkner-style wit.
Like the book's many outsiders (Jack's wife, the schoolteacher, an aunt newly married into the family, the judge and his wife), the reader ultimately succumbs to the charm and magnetism of the Banner community. Any attempt to resist is just a losing battle.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
A friend of mine challenged me to find an example of a book that displays the one thing that remains Southern in our late 20th-century culture, and with Eudora Welty's "Losing Battles," I found it! Southern families have been strung across American since the end of World War II, but the one thing that keeps us together is the family reunion. Welty's work reconfirms this, and with her gift of conversational writing, created a masterpiece. If you're lonely for a bit of catching up on family information, even though the one depicted here may not be your own family, this one is it!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mary A. Urry on August 29, 1998
Format: Paperback
It's true--hardly anything happens in this book--but I found the natural descriptions so beautiful--almost impresionistic and the unraveling of all the "tales" so fascinating! At first I was wondering how I could possibly be interested in the jailbird--Jack Renfro. But his own family loves him so. And I loved his darling little red-headed ex-schoolmarm wife. The irony of him saving the judge who sentenced him! It's so very funny. I laughed out loud. It's hard to tell who all the uncles and aunts are--but just read on--the stories will get told and it will become clear.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By IRA Ross on July 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
You have been cordially invited to attend Granny's 90th birthday celebration and family reunion. Present will be various aunts, uncles, brothers, cousins, children, grandchildren, and assorted eccentric (in the deep South sense) friends and neighbors. All are part of Granny's "extended family," which Ms. Welty makes sure includes her readers. The guest of honor is grandson Jack Renfro, who just escaped from prison 1 day ahead of the day he was to be officially released to enable him arrive at the celebration on time. Also there are his loving wife, Gloria, and their baby, Lady May. The judge who was responsible for putting Jack in prison and his constantly complaining and snooty wife are also "along for the ride". Also, present will be the spirits of relatives and friends past, especially that of the very recently deceased Miss Julia Mortimer, a much beloved and inspirational former teacher of many at the reunion. A very pleasant, but more often revealing, and sometimes shocking time is guaranteed for all.
Most of the "action" in _Losing Battles_ is presented through conversation which lends a real "you are there" feeling throughout. The novel ends with our attendance at Miss Julia's funeral, which is poignently and lovingly recounted by Ms. Welty. While I found Ms. Welty's style of writing often difficult is get through, I found the effort well worth it. Justly so, Ms. Welty's writing is meant be taken in slowly and savored to be truly appreciated.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 5, 1998
Format: Paperback
two days in the life of a southern family, and all those around it. two "superior" figures, a judge {who sentenced the leading man to prison} and a schoolteacher{who figured he'd never amount to anything} mingle and judge and are judged by the common southern folk, who have their own chicken to fry. this book is funny. the title gives it away, and yet you continue to hope that the ending will be different than what you already know it to be. there really is no overweening plot. a family reunion, a funeral, and the rescue of a ditched car rotate at the center of the minds of the characters. stories are told, and truths are uncovered.
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