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3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  976 Ratings  ·  98 Reviews
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, s ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published November 19th 1981 by Penguin Books (first published October 12th 1980)
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Paquita Maria Sanchez
This is probably the best book in the world that almost everyone in the world has never read. Holy shit, few to none in my experience have ever been as effortlessly eloquent as this guy, so (literally) obscenely charming and erudite and just offensively good at prose. I have been known to at least once mail his books to friends who don't even regularly read just because Barry Hannah is exactly the thing that will make non-readers read, and a lot, though they will admittedly mostly be reading Bar ...more
Kristin Fouquet
May 02, 2012 Kristin Fouquet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kristin by: Carter Monroe
In the spring of 1990, a friend suggested if I liked J.D. Salinger, I should read Raymond Carver. It would seem this recommendation and my subsequent falling in love with Carver’s style would come a bit too late. My “discovery” of him came two years after his death. I read everything by Carver I could find. I even turned down plans with friends to stay home and read his stories.

Years later, the controversy of Carver and his editor, Gordon Lish, became public and many voiced their thoughts on the
Oct 09, 2015 Josh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wanna have fun? Next time a friend asks for a book recommendation whip this short little piece out (Freudianism intended) and watch the looks you get in the next few days. It's going to go one of two ways......either one could be interesting!

When I was a kid, I spent a little time in a horse barn with an old marine type who trained horses. Except he never trained, he just saddled and unsaddled them for kids like me to ride for him. We all did so because while it wasn't our turn, we sat on milk c
John Pistelli
I know Hannah is a beloved figure (lavish blurbs on this edition from Philip Roth, Cynthia Ozick, Alfred Kazin, James Dickey), but this doesn't do anything for me. Ray a miscellany of edgy zaniness that we're apparently supposed to accept quite soberly as a literary correlate of "the American confusion." Narrated Beckett-style from a hospital bed by Dr. Ray of Tuscaloosa after he has some kind of alcoholic crack-up, it meanders through tales of the town's eccentrics and through Ray's memories of ...more
May 14, 2014 Bryant rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Wow. I've read Hannah before. I knew he could be brilliant, hilarious, weird, heartbreaking, endearing-- but this is on a whole other level. This is an unsung masterpiece. When I got this I was excited to read it, but I never expected it to be one of the best things I've ever read. The man was a mad genius. I'm in awe of this thing. It broke my heart and blew my mind and made me laugh till I cried. God Bless Barry Hannah. All the stars. All of them.
Jul 27, 2008 Shappi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
wow, I'd never read Barry Hannah before and have just fallen in love with him. I think it's because almost every line is completely unexpected--i'm a sucker for that. But overall the writing is just incredibly sharp. However, I can't be responsible for reactions to the actual content of the book. the guy's clearly a racist and misogynist up the wazoo.
Sep 05, 2011 Will rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing, which is dazzling, gets five stars, maybe six. But... I'm loath to moralize about art, but Hannah's evident romance with his run-down, tough-guy, jet-pilot-Nam-vet, dreaming-of-JEB Stuart narrator and his despite-all-the-thanatism-alcoholism-casual-misongyny-and-racism-I'm-still-a-charming-fucker,-ain't-I? self-regard sticks in my craw, even as it goads me into about 36 hours of put-on swagger. This might have been easier to take when Burt Reynolds still smoldered and it will be eas ...more
Jan 11, 2009 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who would like to be dope-slapped by a rotting brassiere filled with crumbling masonry.
"Ray," a slender early novel by the Mississippi writer Barry Hannah, is the first person account of an alcoholic/drug addicted/physician/former fighter pilot who, in his own words, "lives near the Black Warrior River and has an enormous sex engine." His love of the Hooches, particularly Sister Hooch, richly erotic singer and her morphine addicted poet father, Papa Hooch, runs like mainlined junk through the story of a man who's lived so many lives in so many different times.

This novel is unique
Erik Evenson
Jun 26, 2009 Erik Evenson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here is a scene from Ray:
Westy comes in. She's disturbed.
"Are you drinking, Ray?"
"No. Get me a drink."

Here's another scene:
She hits me over the head with a pillow.
Some days even a cup of coffee is violence.
When I can find my peace, I take a ladder to the hot attic and get out the whole plays of Shakespeare.
Okay, old boy. Let's hear it again. Between the lines I'm looking for the cure for cancer.

and the kicker:
Ken, my nephew, once asked me as we were going to sleep after some snapper fi
Krok Zero
Mar 01, 2010 Krok Zero rated it it was amazing
Shelves: summer-2009
Sabers, gentlemen, sabers!

Someday Barry Hannah will get his due as one of the greatest American writers. Sure, all his books have been critically acclaimed and he enjoys a healthy cult following, but this man deserves to be a household name. His books should be taught in schools, his name should be whispered in tones of mythic reverence. "Ray" is a concentrated blast of what makes Barry Hannah unique and wonderful, 113 slim pages of distilled genius. You will not forget it. And if you happen to
Apr 30, 2012 wally rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, hannah
this is the 4th from hannah for me and i think it is by far his best.

i read a review or two three that mention...that word, it means "hatred of women" i don't even know how to spell the fucking word, much less pronounce it, but it's been a part of my world since i went to college. like the word "pink". i could say ray is "pink" and it would mean exactly the same fucking thing. nothing. wait now, "pink" says more because it denotes a color, whereas "misogyny" as it is used means nothing until the
Mar 20, 2012 Melody rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Melody by: Craig Izard
Barry Hannah's nephew told my husband that he had tried briefly living with Uncle Barry. He said he never used a cliché, always had something interesting to say, but his rants started to scare him. That's just how I felt about the book. My, my, he can turn a phrase - but what the hell is he talking about?
Barry Hannah was the uncle of my husband's college roommate. That fact, the poetic phrases, and the familiar landmarks mentioned in the "story" (the term I shall use lightly) made the book a lik
Mar 17, 2012 Judi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stand-alone
Howl! This transcends the term "a novel" or merely brilliant writing. Ray is pure art . . . a mosaic, a collage. Never experienced a comparable book. For me, it is bitter, sharp edged, moving, vulgar, painful, heroic, loyal, red, visceral, southern, soft, grey, delicate . . . . It is all that art could ever hope to convey and each "reader" will come away with a different experience. For example, I didn't see the humor tucked into this work. Others have. My perspective is impacted, I'm certain, ...more
Charles White
Dec 21, 2010 Charles White rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
holy and perfect.
Sep 27, 2012 Lou rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Doctor ray is a womanizer, a small town drunk, vigilante, poet and adoring husband.
The author presents this very hyper character who goes after anything he likes in a dress, while being married, he does it all in theses pages so expect some talk of the sexual nature coupled with his bizarre outlook and humor to life. Ray lives life wildly and to the edge and he's having swell of a time doing it. The story was written some nice little sentences with some great dialogue. I found this to be good ol
Jan 28, 2015 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Take the Southern dysfunction and fragmentary views of reality from Faulkner, add a bit of PoMo à la Donald Barthelme, and a healthy outrageous pinch of farcical humor from Mark Leynor or George Saunders (who of course come after Hannah and are undoubtedly influenced by him), and toss them all in a 1980 mint GE-brand cream-colored blender and set the mix to chop, then eventually puree and wait a while, and you might get something like this book. Try it, you’ll like it.
The life and times of a racist, sexually promiscuous, substance abusing, Alabama physician and Vietnam veteran as related in stream of consciousness prose by the eponymous first person narrator. I love the prose, and the protagonist, while dislikable, is nonetheless authentic.
Sep 16, 2010 Goldie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What to say...Ray is an amazing, crazy, out-of-the-box book that, at the same time, annoyed the heck out of me. Hannah's writing is so good, the phrases he uses, the energy of the whole thing, all leave me stunned in a good way. But the misogyny, the homophobia, the racism, the sheer bloody-mindedness all leave me stunned in a bad way. It's awful to have both things in one do you rate something that just may be one of the best pieces of writing you've ever read when you LOATHE what it ...more
Matthew Thompson
An unforgettable performance of run-on storytelling. Ray the novel is about Ray the person: an overheated, drug-addled, war vet doctor who threatens to come apart at the seams as he plunges headlong into the heart of his small southern town. Named the heir apparent to such literary greats as Faulkner and O'Connor, Hannah's strength has always been in his ability to blend grotesque strangeness with flesh and blood writing (please see: Airships, his sprawling debut, Geronimo Rex, anything really w ...more
Nov 10, 2012 Blurp rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'I was treating a large old woman who spat in my face. I fell backward into the heater, face-forward. This is to prove that I'm not always the hero.'

The protagonist is an oversexed philanderer, jet pilot, doctor, bad poet, alcoholic and it was published in 1980. A good critique of the next thirty years to come. Classic American novella that everyone you know should read. And, hey, at 110+ pages, maybe everyone you know is even capable of reading it (they probably will need to use their smartphon
Jill Stevenson
Just too outre for me. Better than the Pynchon my book club read but only marginally.
Aaron Martz
This is hardly a novel. In just over a hundred pages it has 62 chapters. That just about beats Vonnegut. Some of the chapters are one sentence long and make no sense at all, like a lot of the book. This is supposedly the musings of a drug-fueled, promiscuous doctor as he lies in a hospital bed after a bender, but there is very little story, and what story there is doesn't amount to much. Some of the sections deal with the doctor's experiences flying jets in Vietnam, and others deal with the Civi ...more
Mary Overton
Ray is a white man of privilege back in a time when that still meant something, a medical doctor, who both clings to his status and loathes it. Barry gives Ray a narrative voice that is stunning, lyrical, ugly, poignant, and mean as a snake.

on Maynard Castro, a preacher who commits murder:
"In their secret hearts, such perversities as Maynard know there are things they can never have, things they have wanted with all their hearts. So they kill them. Most preachers are this way. Their messages see
Oct 03, 2014 Pete rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
i don't know what to say about this. it is scabrous and wretched and poorly behaved, but also poisonously funny, and intermittently ignited by genius. nowhere near the same kind of thing as airships. in love with the simplicity of sex and violence. cacophonous, at once somewhat bad and very good. 1-5 is not a very useful diagnostic tool.
Aug 21, 2016 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Barry Hannah is one of the best things that ever happened to me. These stories. These novels. Man. Mad glorious bequeath. What a banquet! So often mentioned in the same breath as Flannery O'Connor. Well, right, Flannery was the best of these ones there ever was. The lady dynamo. And yup: Hannah is true spiritual progency, if a mite Godless. Ray is an epic poem in micro. Jokes and scouring truths. A little homespun philosophy and some gall. He does place and he does people. The piledrive of histo ...more
Allan MacDonell
Jun 12, 2016 Allan MacDonell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ray by Barry Hannah
In the mid-1990s, Barry Hannah wrote a fluff profile of Larry Flynt (my then-boss) for John F. Kennedy Jr.’s George magazine. Hannah, who found no other fault with Flynt or his products, disparaged me as being like the paw of a drunken, deranged teamster smearing vileness across all that is good and fey in America. The author was reacting to an “Asshole of the Month” column I’d written disparaging the television show Friends. He meant these words as a criticism, as if all the
May 22, 2013 Rayroy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know man, it's like if you took out only the comedy from a Thomas Pynchon novel you would more less end up with "Ray", that's not to say it's not dense, for it is. There is a scene with a Woodpecker and an arrow that was moving and brilliant and lasting.
B. Rule
Jul 19, 2015 B. Rule rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hannah writes like a burning prophet, so of course the prose is impeccable and alive. There's no real plot, but that's not important as it's fundamentally a trip through the ringer of the eponymous protagonist's mind. The book is a nihilistic dive into American excess, and the character of Ray embodies that frenetic search for anything to fill the void, be it drugs, women, violence, or stories. It reads like a fever dream baby of Hunter S. Thompson and Walker Percy, and it is witty, crude, surre ...more
Shannon S.
Just frigging brilliant. Misogynistic, yes. Awful main character? You betcha. And yet you still end up begrudgingly liking the guy. A brilliant case study for Bakhtin's theory of the carnivalesque.
Ned Mozier
Feb 22, 2014 Ned Mozier rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this 19 years ago, and don't remember the plot much, but do remember it was a great one. Now reading Airships & have Bats from Hell (which I bought in a small bookstore Oxford) on my shelf.
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Barry Hannah was an American novelist and short story writer from Mississippi. He was the author of eight novels and five short story collections. He worked with notable American editors and publishers such as Gordon Lish, Seymour Lawrence, and Morgan Entrekin. His work was published in Esquire, The New Yorker, The Oxford American, The Southern Review, and a host of American magazines and quarterl ...more
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