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This is a hard book to review it will definitely not be everybody s cup of tea I had started it once years before, then set it aside, and finally read it at a point in my life when I had the time and the patience It is massive But I ve never read anything at all like it It s about America and Americans, Time, Fantasy, the 19th Century, and lotsUltimately I found it to be a fascinating, provocative, and important work of American literature At this point in time the 1957 MGM movie ad This is a hard book to review it will definitely not be everybody s cup of tea I had started it once years before, then set it aside, and finally read it at a point in my life when I had the time and the patience It is massive But I ve never read anything at all like it It s about America and Americans, Time, Fantasy, the 19th Century, and lotsUltimately I found it to be a fascinating, provocative, and important work of American literature At this point in time the 1957 MGM movie adaptation isfamous than the source novel That s a pity The movie is interesting in its own way, although its really not very good And it barely begins to capture the scope of the novel its plot follows the novel s outline in only the most cursory fashion The novel RAINTREE COUNTY is a challenge, for its size if nothing else But, for me, it remains one of those handful of books that crept into my psyche and changed what I thought a book should be (((Free E-pub))) ⇲ Raintree County ☚ Throughout a single day in , John Shawnessy recalls the great moments of his life from the love affairs of his youth in Indiana, to the battles of the Civil War, to the politics of the Gilded Age, to his homecoming as schoolteacher, husband, and father Shawnessy is the epitome of the place and period in which he lives, a rural land of springlike women, shady gamblers, wandering vagabonds, and soapbox orators Yet here on the banks of the Shawmucky River, which weaves its primitive course through Raintree County, Indiana, he also feels and obeys ancient rhythms A number one bestseller when it was first published in , this powerful novel is a compelling vision of th century America with timeless resonance Figuren Von An- Und Abwesenheit John Shawnessy recalls the great moments of his life from the love affairs of his youth in Indiana House of Testosterone to the battles of the Civil War Cloth Dolls to the politics of the Gilded Age Blood for Dignity to his homecoming as schoolteacher Love Across Color Lines husband Football Rules Pictures and father Shawnessy is the epitome of the place and period in which he lives Gluttony (The Elite Seven, a rural land of springlike women La télé nuit-elle à votre santé? shady gamblers Der Weg zum wahren Reiki- Meister. wandering vagabonds Lady Legend (Wild Hearts, and soapbox orators Yet here on the banks of the Shawmucky River Kidnapped and Catriona which weaves its primitive course through Raintree County Apiculture : Connaître l'abeille, conduire le rucher Indiana Growing Object-Oriented Software, Guided by Tests he also feels and obeys ancient rhythms A number one bestseller when it was first published in Hagberg and Benumof's Airway Management this powerful novel is a compelling vision of th century America with timeless resonance Remembering Mom Who Kept Us in BooksAs for this book, well, it started out good and took place in the 1800s, just before the Civil War The history was interesting as was the main character s philosophy on life It has been said that it is America s answer to War and Peace So, while it wasn t really boring, I just lost interest in it And I was right about one thing, it is too thick Maybe I will pick it up again someday Now for my mom s book shelf My mother had this book in her bookcase s Remembering Mom Who Kept Us in BooksAs for this book, well, it started out good and took place in the 1800s, just before the Civil War The history was interesting as was the main character s philosophy on life It has been said that it is America s answer to War and Peace So, while it wasn t really boring, I just lost interest in it And I was right about one thing, it is too thick Maybe I will pick it up again someday Now for my mom s book shelf My mother had this book in her bookcase since the late forties or 50s She had once belonged to a book club, and that is where she obtained most of her older books For some reason I always thought that they were Dad s, and that she had taken them with her when they divorced I asked my brother Bill about this, and he said that the John Steinbeck book set was given to him by Dad, and that he had put them in his suitcase when we left Dad I imagine that the remainder of the books came to Mom later, along with our furniture Either he or one of his brother s must have brought them to us Anyway, I just thought of her as reading the books that she had read when I was a teenager, like Earle Standly Gardner Frank Slaughter and romance novels.There was a story behind Frank Slaughter who had been a lieutenant in the military Mom had a letter that was once her mother s, and a Lt Frank Slaughter had written to her He was in the military and wrote to her from a Red Cross Hospital, denying her charges of dishonesty She had left him Mom always wondered if they were the same man, so I tried to research it but came up with nothing We will never know.My growing up years would sometimes be spent going through her books and reading what I liked This one interested me because of its title and its light green cover with a dark green tree in the center It was too thick for me to even thick to try to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn set next to it, but I never read it either Many of her other books were children s, except to say for the Steinbeck books that my brother Bill owns Thenthere was a set of Feni Cooper s we don t know what happened to Cooper s, but he doesn t recall owning them I do When he was a teenager, he read The Grapes of Wrath, asking our mom if what was written in it really happened She said Yes I read Steinbeck s, The Red Pony and cried I loved a certain book whose name I wish I knew It was a large encyclopedia that Mom may have received from a door to door salesman She used to read me a few nursery rhymes that were in it I only remember this one Bye baby Bunting, Father s gone a hunting, Mother s gone a milking,Sister s gone a silking,Bother s gone to buy a skin,To wrap the baby Bunting in The book came up missing, and I am the only one who remembers it I used to drag it out and go through it I only recall now that it had a color chart in it that told women what colors they would wear if they had blonde, brown or red hair For example Red haired women should not wear pink The children s books that she owned were bought for us, except that my older sister Jeanette had a set of Bobbsey Twins that my younger sister, Karen, now owns And I have The Secret in the Old Attic by Carolyn Keene that was once Jeanette s but belonged to her friend Alice young from Shandon, CA Karen has the remainder of her books as she was the only one that wanted them after Mom died One of my dad s mother s books was in her collection No one knows why unless Grandma gave it to her Its title was John Milton s Complete Poetical Works Inscribed in it was Ggradmother s name To Emma Lange from Hannah Toole, Feb first, 1901, Chicago.So, my mom was sentimental for she kept the books she had given to us when we were children, just like mothers often keep their child s baby blanket Mom did keep our younger brother s blanket I found it in a bag, tor in a bag It was in tatters when I last saw it, as were some of the children s books She used to read to Jerry when he was small, and I remember that he knew one book by heart If she missed a word in it, he would correct her even though he didn t know how to read I have a photo of him when he was around five years old He is sitting on the floor looking through an encyclopedia He now works at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant in San Luis Obispo, a big shot.When I look back on how she kept us in books, I am grateful I can remember walking to the library with her and checking out books I often went by myself She and I once sat at the kitchen table and talked about the book she had on Bridey Murphey, wondering if reincarnation was true She had also picked up The Lost Books of the Bible at the library, and we wondered where Cain got his wife In later years she read The Reader s Digest and even sent me a subscription to it after I was married Some stories were interesting, like people being mauled by a bear, but I grew tired of the Digest, although I wish that I had studied the vocabulary words in iWhen Karen and I were going over the books that Mom had I was surprised to learn that she has the bible that was given to me by the First Baptist Church when I was a teenager She has one too And she found a book with Jerry s name in it The Daily News Almanac, 1907 Mom s Bookshelf John SteinbeckJames Feni CooperBobbsey TwinsHave Gun will TravelRin Tin Tin s Rinty This book has my name in it and also says, 1956, Mr Lewis Lewis was my 6th grade teacher Black BeautyRaintree CountryA Tree Grows in BrooklynRed Ryder and the Adventure at Chimney RockA large Encyclopedia A set of EncyclopediasMy Friend FlickaThe Case of the Stuttering Bishop by Earle Stanley GarnerHow to Win Friends and Influence PeopleHow to Lose Friends and Alienate People It may seem odd to be writing a review of a book writtenthan 60 years ago In my case, the book is vibrant and meaningful Raintree County is set in a mythical part of Indiana close to where I grew up, in Bloomington The author, Ross Lockridge Jr lived just down the street from my family He was a young man He was also a friend of our neighbor, Alfred Kinsey, for whom my mother, Mildred Hawksworth Lowell a Professor of Library Science at Indiana University, was librarian for Dr Kinsey It may seem odd to be writing a review of a book writtenthan 60 years ago In my case, the book is vibrant and meaningful Raintree County is set in a mythical part of Indiana close to where I grew up, in Bloomington The author, Ross Lockridge Jr lived just down the street from my family He was a young man He was also a friend of our neighbor, Alfred Kinsey, for whom my mother, Mildred Hawksworth Lowell a Professor of Library Science at Indiana University, was librarian for Dr Kinsey s famous Human Sexuality Institute.Upon publication in 1947, Raintree County was an instantaneous best seller leading shortly to a major studio contract for a movie starring Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift One of the Lockridge children, young Ross, was my classmate in elementary school at Elm Heights Elementary He would share the details of the movie process and, as I recall nowthan 55 years later, being charmed by the famous players in the movie when the family visited the sets I could only have been 7 or 8 at the time born in 1946 but the magic of living in the midst of a famous novelist and the wonder of a Hollywood film are vibrant memories.At the peak of professional success, Mr Lockridge committed suicide in a garage I recall being dumbfounded as a child Why would he kill himself I asked my mother He had achieved so much I do not exactly remember my mother s response But the question has lingered in my heart ever since I have assumed the answer to be along the lines of Life is complex, son, even in the lap of glorious success one can become lost Is this all there is for all of my work Mr Lockridge was a fine man He must have had a torment that another cannot imagine From that time to this, I have always dreamed of being a writer I have done non fiction professional books for many years, and am only now into the fiction business For some reason, the image of these questions has always crept into my mind when I have focused on the possibility of success as a fiction writer What would it be like to succeed What did Ross Lockridge Jr feel when his first and only novel achieved instantaneous critical and financial success, followed by a major league movie contract What would drive him to end his life In recent years, I have moved from writing fiction manuscripts and putting them on the shelf to seeking a route to commercial publication As I began this journey, I wanted to go back and see if I could answer these questions of a lifetime First, I read the biography of Mr Lockridge written by his son Larry, Shade of the Raintree Then I picked up Raintree County itself, a tome of some 1,060 pages in the edition that was given to me as a birthday present by my sweetheart.Raintree County is a masterpiece, obviously written in the hopes of becoming a Great American Novel It traces the life and times of an absorbed young writer John Wickcliff Shawnessy, a k a Johnny from a rural county before, during, and after the Civil War The central characters twist and turn through all of the pages as they age The chronology of time switches back and forth, challenging the reader to keep all of the pieces in perspective The characters include an elusive young lady whose nudity by the river and innocent frolic in a haystack reverberate through the story Nell Gaither , a teacher and confessor the Perfessor , a Southern belle who frolics with our hero one afternoon after too much cider and claims pregnancy, then becomes his first wife, an athletic arch enemy who becomes a prosperous national businessman Cash Carney , a competitor for the femme who becomes a U.S Senator, and a cast of other characters that create the magic of the story.Like Gone With the Wind, Ulysses, and other sweeping stories, one gets to the end when Johnny comes marching home from the War wondering what the point of the story is Johnny began with the hope, aspiration, and innocence of youth, seeking answer to the riddle of the naked woman in the post office In the end, Johnny seems to be seeking to find what he has lost along the way, perhaps the answer to the riddle.One can never know why this skilled author took his own life Perhaps the answer is that he poured himself into this fascinating story that is so full of life, complete with its riddles, paradoxes, and mysteries, and lost his way in the process, finding himself unable to deal with the adulation that poured over him or the frustration of dealing with publishers, agents, studios and the other characters in a story that he had not charted or, maybe, even contemplated As Lockridge ended the story with Johnny s determination that each man had to build his world again periodically It is difficult to return to the idealized world of the young, as Cash Carney laments in an epitath to lost youth on page 848 of this edition.The thoughtful framework of Raintree County, the life of its author, and the biography of his son seem to cry for a re telling of the story in another generation.In short, Raintree County is the great American novel and should be back on reading lists The essential issues and messages that are explored in these pages are present in the lives of each of us The saying that it is not the destination but the path comes to mind when I think of this book Johnny s attempt to find the mythical raintree, from which flows endless prosperity is the destination however, it is the path, strewn with prototypes from American history, that stand out most in my mind The prose remember in this way in addition to being lyrical, like a river, each chapter ends in an incomplete sentence that is finished by the subject of the first sentence in the next chapter It The saying that it is not the destination but the path comes to mind when I think of this book Johnny s attempt to find the mythical raintree, from which flows endless prosperity is the destination however, it is the path, strewn with prototypes from American history, that stand out most in my mind The prose remember in this way in addition to being lyrical, like a river, each chapter ends in an incomplete sentence that is finished by the subject of the first sentence in the next chapter It is a good time to pause and contemplate the interconnectedness of all things, and sometimes to laugh at the incongruity of it all This gets a mention or two or three in Thomas Mallon s excellent novel about the year 1948, DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN I ve read bits and pieces of RAINTREE COUNTY, but the reason I know anything at all about it is that, sometime in the 1970s a dual biography of its author and the author of MISTER ROBERTS was reviewed on the front page of THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW Both authors had huge bestsellers the same year 1948 and, even though they did not know each other, they both did something very This gets a mention or two or three in Thomas Mallon s excellent novel about the year 1948, DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN I ve read bits and pieces of RAINTREE COUNTY, but the reason I know anything at all about it is that, sometime in the 1970s a dual biography of its author and the author of MISTER ROBERTS was reviewed on the front page of THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW Both authors had huge bestsellers the same year 1948 and, even though they did not know each other, they both did something very shocking, which was this They committed suicide I was immediately drawn to RAINTREE COUNTY, a nearly one thousand page book, a copy of which was in my father s study.It takes place on the 4th of July the date of my review Different Fourth of Julys are described in the different chapters The characters are from Indiana and grow up to fight in the Civil War It s an epic.In 1994, Ross Lockridge s son wrote an excellent book about his father called SHADE OF THE RAINTREE It details his father s attempts to tailor his masterpiece to the will of the publisher, then to the will of the Book Of The Month Club and then to the will of M G M, which had bought the rights M G M had a lot of say over a book which hadn t yet been published, and certainly the Book Of The Month Club had a lot of control over it too Book publishing has never actually been a gentlemen s profession Ross Lockridge s son says in the biography something to this effect In a very real respect, my father died for a book The story behind the publication of RAINTREE COUNTY is, in itself, epic The cover of the paperback I ve reviewed retains the artwork of the original dust jacket It s a landscape which is a woman s body, a page being turned and a river with initials in its curves Some reviewer wrote that the author knew a lot of words and used them all in Raintree County It s true, on occasion he could have benefited from acareful editor, but with the exception of a few tedious passages, I was very happy with this novel It was creative, interesting, and thoughtful The main character, Johnny Shawnessey, is a complex person This is a good thing because the book is 1060 pages and it darn well better be gripping I enjoyed the conceit of the entire novel spanning o Some reviewer wrote that the author knew a lot of words and used them all in Raintree County It s true, on occasion he could have benefited from acareful editor, but with the exception of a few tedious passages, I was very happy with this novel It was creative, interesting, and thoughtful The main character, Johnny Shawnessey, is a complex person This is a good thing because the book is 1060 pages and it darn well better be gripping I enjoyed the conceit of the entire novel spanning one day in 1892 with flashbacks throughout his life It s too bad that Lockridge killed himself shortly after completing the book because he was talented and had a lot to say Probably the book would be better known today if he had lived and written , I don t know But I m glad I read it and I m keeping it in my permanent library There s a review already here by Sonnetal sorry if I spelled this incorrectly but it says it all This is one of the GREAT American novels and it s been neglected Lockridge killed himself in despair only two months after it was published, and selling well His publisher had cut the extended dreamlike ending and it seems to have tipped over an already tippable soul They were probably right As it stands, this novel is almost perfect I too love the Russians Here was our Russian. Raise your hand if you have heard of Raintree County by Ross Lockridge, Jr I hadn t until Jared Carter handed me a copy of the book a few months ago I very much wish I had found this book earlier, though, perhaps, I may not have enjoyed it as much I did not really appreciate Moby Dick until well after college Speaking of Moby Dick, I have always considered that novel THE American novel Raintree County does not displace Melville s masterpiece, but it definitely comes in with the silver med Raise your hand if you have heard of Raintree County by Ross Lockridge, Jr I hadn t until Jared Carter handed me a copy of the book a few months ago I very much wish I had found this book earlier, though, perhaps, I may not have enjoyed it as much I did not really appreciate Moby Dick until well after college Speaking of Moby Dick, I have always considered that novel THE American novel Raintree County does not displace Melville s masterpiece, but it definitely comes in with the silver medal as far as I am concerned This is an astonishing book A family tale A war story An epic A story that teases out the myths of youth that we carry forward to adulthood A story about creation and loss and love A local story A universal tale.The novel is so lusciously sprawling that a summary is futile The story ostensibly takes place during the course of July 4, 1892 But the day is splintered by memories that reach back to the 1840s and reach forward to 1892 John Wickliff Shawnessy is the hero of the novel, but he is flanked by a mesmerizing cast of characters Garwood Jones, Professor Jersusalem Stiles, Nell Gaither, and Susanna Drake among others Each character is fully formed, but they are archetypal at the same time Jones is the great friend and archrival A politician so successful that you feel the slipperiness of him because he knows how to read the public and ride on the wave carrying the largest bloc of voters He becomes a Union Army colonel at the tail end of the war late enough to avoid real fighting but soon enough to boast of his soldiering credentials Stiles s middle name is Webster, and if you think of Webster s dictionary, you ve thought correctly A man who debates fluently with Shawnessy about any number of things, metaphysical to sexual Nell is the true love of Shawnessy, a woman for whom he has framed an entire myth around, but also a woman always just out of reach or time to truly be happy with Something or some one is always a barrier to their final happiness Susanna is a troubled Southern girl whose mental anguish, stemming from a Faulkner gothic family, whose tormented mind is metaphorically the result of the conflict of the slavery in pre Civil War America The hypocrisy of freedom, the commercial abuse i.e., an honest wage for honest labor , and moral degradation of the enslavers.all come into a debilitating mental conflict To the northern Shawnessy, she is a beautiful mystery Even a scar whose importance only becomes apparent later is mysterious and erotic to the young Shawnessy.I am leaving out a host of minor characters of the kind that fill small towns throughout America However, another major character in the novel is America itself Lockridge often riffs off of Whitman in long prose poem passages America was a city by a river, a city of gloomily eclectic buildings, confused unhappy domes and spires of buildings that were trying to be the most beautiful buildings that ever were but couldn t be because they hadn t any souls America was faces in the Avenue of the Republic, eager, excited faces with mobile eyes America was the place where all the world sent its third rate art and gaudiest claptrap and where it was all piled up together and then became something hushed, exciting, wonderful because it was in America.Another non human character is a central myth built into the mind of Shawnessy, of the fabled raintree and the creature of the lake These myths and America weave in and out of the novel, haunting the edges, inspiring the noblest of human passions, and acting as the unmovable background on which all the characters act.As the day moves along and the 1892 characters become visible in the past, the story of where they are and what they ve become emerges as a record of memory, though memory is not revealed as an American specialty The Civil War necessarily looms large in the consciousness of the memory Shawnessy joins the war effort a couple of years after the conflict begins, but he enters the war to participate in Sherman s march to the sea Lockridge captures adequately, I think, the pervasiveness of slavery and the North South tensions and also all the uncertainty of whether war was inevitable.One of the minor characters, Flash Perkins, the fastest man in Raintree County until defeated by Shawnessy in a drunken race is with Shawnessy s unit In a looting tangent, they face a small group of Confederates Perkins wounded, keeps fighting until Here, surely, was the strongest life that ever lived, and it was dying, it was beating itself out in blood and fury There was nothing good about the way Flash Perkins died in a forest near Columbia, South Carolina He died choking with his throat full of blood, still trying to beat some unseen competitor who was too much for him.What I find so admirable in this passage is that it captures both the dignity of the man and the horror of war Those emotions are enmeshed within the structure of the sentences themselves.I could carry on randomly like this for some time because there is so much that is delightful in this novel I am still absorbing the weight and breadth of the novel, but I am certain it is a triumph Lockridge, sadly, killed himself shortly after this novel was published in 1948, but he left behind a masterpiece of fiction and I hope that others will discover its richness This forgotten beauty is close enough to the Great American Novel for me It has everything such a idea contains a sweeping look at America s most turbulent time on its own shores, a tremendous love story, glorious writing shot through with poetry, a mystical center that ought to lie at every story People should read this They need it.