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Raney Paperback – June 23, 1997

3.9 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This charming vignette follows the early days of the marriage of Raney, an inno cent, Southern Baptist, and Charles, who is considerably more liberal and so phisticated than Raney. The two must make many accommodations to one an other and regularly consult a marriage counselor. PW found that the author's "ear for idiom is exact, the two central characters perceptibly developed and the other members of the small cast are giv en dimension and personality."
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

When I met Clyde Edgerton at a writer's conference a few years ago, I was immediately impressed by his charm and wit. He not only dazzled the conferees with is talent, he tirelessly gave anyone who asked the best advice he could manage. It's really no wonder he's such a wonderful writer, he's got a heart of gold.
A. Scheibe, editorial.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 227 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (June 23, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345419057
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345419057
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #568,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Clyde Edgerton is the author of ten novels, a memoir, short stories, and essays. He is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers and teaches creative writing at UNC Wilmington. He lives in Wilmington, NC, with his wife, Kristina, and their children.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This happens to be one of my all-time favorite books, picked up on a whim in an airport shop when my plane was delayed. What a find! Read it, and you'll become an instant fan of Clyde Edgerton. It's side-splittingly funny as it chronicles the early days of the marriage of Raney, a small-town Baptist, and Charles, a city Episcopalian. Though both are Southern, they are cut from different cloth, she from calico, and he from tweed. Raney is appalled to find that her husband wants to have his good friend, a black man, be their baby's godfather, and her husband is appalled to find that Raney intends to raise their daughter calling her breasts "dinners."
Don't miss this one.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Although I live now in Chicago, was educated at Yale and the University of Chicago, and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, nearly all my relatives are small town and rural folk exactly like Raney. There are many, many things to praise about this book: the voice of the narrator, the consistent excellence of the prose, the humor that pops up at every point, and the critical yet affectionate portrait of what life in the South is truly like, but the thing that most stands out for me is the extraordinary veracity of the characters.
If I could choose a book to add to a time capsule to be opened on July 4, 2376, to show people living then what life in the south truly was like way back in the late 20th century, this is the book I would select. It might not deal with the big themes, like slavery in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, or the mystery of evil as in the writings of Flannery O'Connor, or possess the literary marvels of Faulkner, but it shows in vivid fashion exactly what small town life in the South is like in our time. I just reeled from the detail. For instance, many of my country cousins, when they wash dishes, do it precisely like Raney does: filling a sink with soapy water, and removing each dish or utensil after washing it in the same water that one uses for everything else. As a practice, it is indefensible from a hygienic point of view, yet it is a widespread cultural custom. Edgerton nails detail after detail.
I don't want to make this sound like a thinly disguised anthropological study, or suggest that this attention to detail is what makes the novel special. What makes this a great novel is the loving portrait Edgerton crafts of Raney herself. Although she possesses her own quirks and country foibles, she is throughout the book an adorable, sweet, lovable human being, believably and memorably brought to life by a master novelist. It is easily one of the finest novels about the South that I have ever read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Clyde Edgerton wrote this novel while teaching English at Campbell University in Buie's Creek, North Carolina. Campbell is a unique school, in that is one of few religiously affiliated universities of its size and stature. Campbell is the 2d largest private college in the state, but students are still expected to attend chapel and drinking is absolutely verboten on campus. In the midst of this right-wing mecca are several compassionate, learned educators who strive to expand the minds and souls of their students. Edgerton was one such professor, but this novel provoked such a furor among Campbell's administration and alumni that he was suspended without pay before being ultimately reinstated.
His book is a tender look at a clash of cultures: Raney, a Freewill Baptist woman (Freewill Baptists take the bible so literally, they beleive Jesus could not have turned water into wine, as it had not time to ferment) from fictional Bethel, NC and Charles, a liberal Episcopalian man from Atlanta. Although Edgerton makes light of Raney's provincialism and Charles' stubbornness, he does so with the love and caring of a native son writing about his home.
If you want a tender look at life in the South, read this novel.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am always happy to recommend Clyde Edgerton's RANEY to people looking for a handle on southern life and folkways. There are two sides to this zestfully written encounter about a small-town Freewill Baptist who marries a liberal from Atlanta: one is the fun of its 1970s topicality, by now of more historical interest than anything else. (Charles, Raney's husband, founds a group called TEA for "Thrifty Energy Alternatives," but runs up against Mr. Tolliver and other elders at Raney's church who studied things out themselves and concluded that the power company must know what it is doing. These are the same gentleman who concluded that Jesus could turn water into grape juice but not wine.)

The second, equally endearing and more enduring aspect to this novel is Raney and Charles' struggles to weather the first year of their married life, especially in view of their stunned realization that when a couple marries, they also marry each other's families. "Charles' mother asked me if I had read any of the latest bestsellers," commits Raney to her diary. "I just told her the Bible was the biggest bestseller of all time and always would be. She [and her husband] just looked at me."

There are many readers who have found the book's depiction of racist, working-class southerners to be beyond the pale. Rarely this is due to sympathy for real southerners, or or some feeling that the book's stereotyping went too far. Raney's older relatives mouth opinions and attitudes that are racist and reactionary, but sadly true to their time. Emphasis on the "real." Poor Charles has to storm off from the dinner table more than once when confronted with the compound provinciality of Raney's relatives. But this is a relatively small aspect of the book.
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