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Early From the Dance
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Early From the Dance

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  255 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Adam Jenrette, thirty-one and a successful Manhattan artist, has been hiding from his past for too long. When a relative's death calls him home to North Carolina, he is pulled into an intense encounter with his own eighteen-year-old self and with the two most important people in his life -- Cary Kinlaw, his best boyhood friend, and Jane McCrae, the girl they both, disastro ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published February 13th 1991 by Ballantine Books (first published 1989)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 438)
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This is one of my all time favorite books. I re-read it about every 3 to 4 years. It was assigned for a Psychology of Relationships class in college, and I just really enjoyed the style of writing from three different perspectives. The love triangle of best friends is a common theme, but I love the way David Payne takes it to a different level by spanning different chronological perspectives and allowing you a full understanding of each character's psychological state throughout the story. I sti ...more
Kathy Winstead
This is my all time favorite book. I re-read it every year. The southern heritage, down home easy feeling of the characters, the many lessons learned, the youthful feelings and experiences, as well as the sadness of a suicide and how it affects each person is something you simply need to experience. If you can start the book with the thought that you are going to be reading total conversations between the characters, it will help you to stay on track until you get the feel of it.
First read this book 20 years ago and have returned to it every five or so years.... First picked it up because of the N.C author and connection - but found it hard to put down and read it the first time in only a couple of days. Hard to put a finger on why I liked this one so much - but a great read. I've read a couple of his other books and they are good reads as well - but nothing approaching this one...
jo _
Early From the Dance preached a multi-faceted perspective on life, constructed through each character's philosophies, one different from the next, their personalities and beliefs rooted in their past (Faulkneresque, oh my).

(I would love to find a better quote, but I was lazy with this book and didn't mark in it as much as I usually do, perhaps because I didn't find as much meaning in it as other books, though it still carries a significant message. )

"'My love for Cary was a great thing,'
Wow. Just finished the book. I wasn't able to put it down for the last 50-70 pages....and found myself skimming a lot just to find out what happened in the end. The book started out slow and strange and I didn't know where it was going. Then, it got really interesting, even though the situations were unfamiliar. (i.e. a lot of cocaine usage) But, it was a well-told story and included a lot of soul-searching of the characters. I re-read the first 30-50 pages when I was in about two-thirds of the ...more
I always wanted to read this book ... It's quite lovely, old-fashioned in a way, not too too plotty, "character-driven," perhaps, w/ever that means. It reminded me a little of an over-long "Daniel Martin," which I remember as being pretty long itself. I like young love stories about three people ... true love ;)
Sep 05, 2011 Pam rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
I'm going through my list of read books to attempt to review them and when this one came up, my first thought was I didn't like it. Since I read it in 2004, I went through other people's reviews in order to jog my memory so I could review it. I purchased it in 1998 but didn't read it until 2004 and I don't remember anything about it; usually once I read other's reviews, I remember at least something about the book. The majority of the reviews on Goodreads are great and people seem to love it but ...more
My husband told me to read this book, as it was one of his favorites. I was dubious. I'm not a big fan of "literature" and these types of books usually bore me or make me gag or both.

I freakin LOVED this book. Loved loved loved it. I love it so much that I refused to let my husband get rid of my personal copy when we were consolidating our massive book collection to fit it into our tiny little NYC apartment.

It's beautifully written, gorgeously characterized... Just a gorgeous book. I need to re-
Steve Minor
I got an advance copy of this book when it was new and bought another one later - I like the main two characters, A. and Jane, and Jane's mom, and A's dad, and a few of the lesser characters, but not the weirdness of Cleanth and Morgan. My favorite part these days when I reread it is A's recollection of his dog Pete and crabbing with Pete and his mom, I read this aloud to my wife just the other night.
I thought the writing was excellent. Unfortunately, the book is narrowly focused on the events of one summer, and their repercussions. The actions and reactions of the characters to the events seem unrealistically exaggerated and ultimately tiresome. After a while, I got tired of reading in such exquisite detail about them, and moved on.
It was good, but I thought it dragged on a bit. It could have been condensed. The characters were well portrayed, but I couldn't really relate to any of them. I guess that is why I didn't really LOVE the book because I thought the characters all made stupid mistakes or choices. Overall though, it was very well written and captivating.
Oct 29, 2007 Dalee rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
this is the southern novel! makes me proud I am from Atlanta and was way to thoughtful at one time.
I even read it in a crappy small paperback and enjoyed every page. read it and then let me know what northern novel would be it's equal.
I could not imagine relating to a book as much as I did when I read this book. David Payne as an amazing grasp on writing from a male and female perspective. His ability to describe relationships and emotions is amazing.
Charles Robbins
David Payne taught one of my MFA workshop semesters, and the experience was transformative. This book delivers the energy, forward motion and deep characterization that Payne moved me toward.
I wasn't really motivated to finish this book so I can't say much about it except that it was slow moving and dull. Life is too short to read an entire book only to find it was just boring.
Twylapumroy Pumroy
Addresses suicide in a beautiful way... I wish everyone who was feeling that way could read a few of the lines arguing for waiting...
A little more than half-way through. I am re-reading this after more than 20 years. It's very good so far.
Don (The Book Guy)
I gave up on this one half way through. I just didn't care for the characters enough to finish the book.
Wow! At first I wasn't sure about the story, then it sucked me in and wow! Really enjoyed it!!
My husband recommended this book to me as a beautifully written book. It was.
Adam Golding
Wouldn't mind reading this little gem again given the chance. Thank ya sis
Southern writer, overall good, but a little slow in the middle.
Jul 15, 2008 Milosh rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Not my favorite. The writing and the plot just weren't my cup of tea.
my favorite book by living author
Interesting coming of age story.
Mar 31, 2010 Louisewhite added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any southerner who has had a broken heart
favorite book ever
Jul 31, 2008 Anne added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone but especially Pat Conroy fans
I first read this book the summer after my junior year of college and I re-read it every year or so. It's that good.
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David Payne was born in North Carolina and attended the Phillips Exeter Academy and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of five novels-- Confessions of a Taoist on Wall Street, Early From the Dance, Ruin Creek, Gravesend Light, Back to Wando Passo--and a memoir, Barefoot to Avalon: A Brother's Story, forthcoming from Grove Atlantic in August 2015. Visit his author web ...more
More about David Payne...
Ruin Creek Back to Wando Passo Gravesend Light Confessions of a Taoist on Wall Street

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