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Ray Paperback – March 6, 1994
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From the Inside Flap
Nominated for the American Book Award, Ray is the bizarre, hilarious, and consistently adventurous story of a life on the edge. Dr. Ray--a womanizer, small-town drunk, vigilante, poet, adoring husband--is a man trying to make sense of life in the twentieth century. In flight from the death he dealt flying over Vietnam, Dr. Ray struggles with those bound to him by need, sickness, lunacy, by blood and by love.
"A shorthand epic of extraordinary power...a novel of brilliant particulars and dizzying juxtapositions.... Reading it is like turning in one's hand a sharply faceted crystal."--Newsweek
"Will you welcome, please, a sensational new American comic writer, one with poetry in his pulses and witty hot wires in his sentences?"--The New York Times Book Review
"Ray is a song....about the electrics, cool and hot, of being alive."--The Village Voice
"The best young fiction writer to appear in the South since Flannery O'Connor."--Larry McMurtry
"A masterwork of literary jazz.... An intense and readable joy."--Chicago Tribune
"Ray delights, provokes, shocks, amuses on every page. Barry Hannah is an original, vital talent."--Houston Chronicle
"Imagine a Southern De Maupassant entering a Diane Arbus photograph in order to invent fresh juxtapositions of the American language.... Barry Hannah takes fiction by surprise--scenes, shocks, sounds, and amazements: an explosive but meticulous originality."--Cynthia Ozick
"Barry Hannah's writing is raw and exhilarating, tortured, radiant, vicious, aggressive, funny, and streaked with rage, pain, and bright, poetic truth."--The Philadelphia Inquirer
"This novel hangs in the memory like a fishhook. It will haunt you long after you have finally put it down. Barry Hannah is a talent to reckon with, and I can only hope that Ray finds an audience it deserves."--Harry Crews, Washington Post Book World
"Barry Hannah is an original, vital talent. His style is exuberant, impressionistic, and highly compressed.... Reading this novel is not a passive experience. It delights, provokes, shocks, amuses on every page."--Houston Chronicle
"Ray is the funniest, weirdest, soul-happiest work of fiction by a genuinely young American author that I've read in a long while. You need a fresh lingo to do justice to this much magic, mystery, and hilarity."--Benjamin DeMott, The New York Times Book Review
Barry Hannah was born in Clinton, Mississippi. His first novel, Geronimo Rex, was awarded the William Faulkner Prize and nominated for the National Book Award. A second novel, Nightwatchmen, was followed by Airships, a collection of stories, which won the Arnold Gingrich Short Fiction Award. Among Hannah's other books are The Tennis Handsome, Captain Maximus, Hey Jack!, Boomerang, Never Die, and Bats Out of Hell. His 1996 short story collection, High Lonesome, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He currently holds a position as a writer-in-residence at the University of Mississippi and lives in Oxford with his wife, Susan.
From the Back Cover
Nominated for the American Book Award, 'Ray' is the bizarre, hilarious, and consistently adventurous story of a life on the edge. Dr. Ray- a womanizer, small-town drunk, vigilante, poet, adoring husband- is a man trying to make sense of life in the twentieth century. In flight from the death he dealt flying over Vietnam, Dr. Ray struggles with those bound to him by need, sickness, lunacy, by blood and by love.
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Top Customer Reviews
Hannah writes extremely well. It really was a pleasure to read this novel, and I don't hesitate to recommend it to anyone who enjoys well crafted lines. He makes emotion. His careful prose effects emotional states, but those states don't last much longer than it takes to reflect on the lines.
For all his skill, the book grows tedious. The well-crafted lines don't come together to mean anything in the long run. A rapid succession of non-sequiturs fails almost by definition, and this novel never grows into its promise. Find joy in the particulars because it fails in the whole.
The novel also suffers from the conscious attempt you find in so much modern literature to shock. It's painful, but not in the way intended by the author. It's painful because it's trite.
Ray, a doctor and war survivor, recaps on his life which consists of mostly adultery and drinking, injected with a few small crisis moments that keep the book interesting.
Very very honest, well written, Barry Hannah couldn't have verbalized the events in this book better!
Years later, the controversy of Carver and his editor, Gordon Lish, became public and many voiced their thoughts on the process of such heavy editing of a writer’s work. I felt strangely betrayed. I wondered if I had read more Lish than Carver in all those stories. Yet, when I read what Tess Gallagher gave to *The New Yorker* as the first draft of “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” which Carver had titled “Beginners,” I could honestly say the story was better for the editing. I also found it intriguing an editor would suggest a longer title.
In 2009, it was because of this controversy I met my future editor and publisher, Carter Monroe. A question was raised about it on a writer’s board and I asked him how he felt about it. After many in-depth discussions on the editing of Carver by Lish and the nature of editing in general, we began our own process. I’m grateful for everything I’ve learned and continue to learn about writing.
So this year when Carter said I needed to read *Ray* by Barry Hannah, I listened. I found it interesting Hannah had also worked with Gordon Lish. While reading *Ray*, a part of me wondered if Lish had done heavy editing on the short novel. Perhaps we’ll never know, but my feeling is the voice in *Ray* is so strong and surprising- like a whirling dervish spinning you into unsuspected territory- it must be authentic.
The narrator, Dr. Ray, takes us through a journey of experiences and relationships in a succinct whirlwind of a lifetime in 128 pages. Hannah finds the comedy and tragedy of our humanity and unabashedly reveals it with a delivery of hope. While it is a perfect and complete work, it has us asking for more time, much like life itself.
As with Carver, it seems I am once again “finding” an author two years after his demise. Although Carver and Hannah are no longer with us, their body of work is eternal.
This was the second work of Hannah's that I ever read (the first was "Airships"), and it made me a fan for life.
Nothing is even remotely sugar coated in this fast paced novel.
Ray lives on the edge with a fanatic frenzy which borders on lunacy while possessing the steely nerves of an ACE fighter pilot.
Fasten your seat belt!