RANEY by Clyde Edgerton


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A modestly conceived, endearingly funny first novel--about the seismic shivers and cultural shocks within the marriage of a feisty Free Will Baptist and a missionary liberal. ""Music is what brought Charles and me together,"" narrator Raney Bell explains. ""He don't look like a banjo picker but he sounds good."" And though Ranoy has ""a weird way of looking at things,"" Charles appreciates her ""stabs of common sense."" So it's on to the shaky wedding festivities, with the mix of puritanical Baptists and lah-de-dah Atlanta academics. Then comes the wedding night--the proper.time for the marriage to be ""consumed."" (Despite words of guidance from mama, Raney is unnerved ""to find Charles standing there in his Fruit of the Loom drinking champagne out of a plastic cup. It was a terrible scene to remember."") But, while things get settled down sex-wise, it's soon obvious that Charles ""just don't have a single sense about family"": he gets mad when Mama drops in unannounced; he seems to use the Bell Sunday dinners to try out his ""aggressiveness training""; he gets upset about Raney's use of the word ""nigger""--especially when talking to his friend Johnny on the phone. (""He didn't sound, you know, black."") Moreover, Charles seems grumpy when dragged along on Bell-family outings--or on a good-deed Golden Agers trip to see a cannon shot off by an old Reb who has raised fine kids. (""Didn't a one go to college, thank the good Lord."") So, while Charles bashes wits against the slab-sided righteousness of Raney's kin, a marital explosion looms. Raney--who does understand the imperatives of family ties--clashes with Charles, the (supposedly) enlightened. There's a marriage-counselor session with a ""psychiatric."" But somehow it's some erotic sinning in the feed-room of Daddy's grocery which sets things tight, leading up to a birth announcement. . . with Johnny listed as godfather. Affectionate teasing rather than cutting satire--sassily narrated by Raney herself, a delectable hard-shell Lorelei.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1984
ISBN: 0345419057
Publisher: Algonquin (P.O. Box 2225, Chapel Hill, NC 27515)