Lawyer's Reviews > Raney

Raney by Clyde Edgerton
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's review
Oct 14, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: southern-class-and-culture, southern-literature, humor, southern-humor, love, family, marriage, bluegrass-music, prejudice, intolerance, religion, free-will-baptist, the-n-word, liberalism, conservatism, north-carolina, lister-north-carolina, atlanta-georgia, sex, tolerance, favorites
Recommended to Lawyer by: Donna Callahan, former office manager, Office of the District Attorney, Tuscaloosa County, Alabama
Recommended for: Anyone but a Baptist without a sense of humor
I own a copy , read count: 3

RANEY, Clyde Edgerton's first novel on why it's not a sin to marry a Whiskeypalian even when you are a Free-Will Baptist

First of all, the illustration of Raney by Clyde Edgerton is not that of the first edition, first printing. Seeing as how I'm a goodreads librarian I should fix that.

First Edition, Algonquin Books, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1985

Yep. Fixed. That's now the correct image for the First Edition, First Printing of Raney

I know. I have one. It's signed. The REAL first printing is green with a guitar on it. The title, Raney is printed in a block background of hot pink.

I'm gloating. I'm gloating because it was a very, very short first printing. I'm gloating because Clyde Edgerton signed it for me and then serenaded me and my wife, picking his banjo, while singing "Safety Patrol."

To hear more of Clyde Edgerton's Music visit

Watch this: Clyde Edgerton is singing "Way Down in Columbus, Georgia," while playing the banjo.

It's not Safety Patrol, but it gives you a good idea of how this man comes across at a book signing.

It's a good thing I finally met Clyde Edgerton. I had literally stalked him for several years. My brother-in-law, Bill, as in Bill from Dallas, as opposed to Cousin Bill from Shreveport, got tired of Connecticut winters and moved to Wilmington, North Carolina. Clyde Edgerton lives in Wilmington, teaches at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and likes to write while having breakfast at The Salt Mine, one of two restaurants of the same name.

Among other things, Edgerton teaches creative writing at UNCW

I confess. I stalked him. In a polite way. I ate breakfast at the Salt Mine five mornings in a row. I didn't have my cholesterol checked for six months thereafter because I would have had to fess up to my lady doctor, who is beautiful, that I had spiked my LDL and lowered my HDL, while stalking an author who has written five New York Times Notable Books of the Year, was a Guggenheim Fellow, was admitted to membership of the Southern Writers Association, and washes his own pickup truck in the front yard of his house--HIMSELF.

I never caught him there. But I highly recommend the homemade corned beef hash, eggs over easy, with wheat toast. Oh, and on the lunch special, I recommend the chicken fried steak. That's on Saturdays. He washes his truck on Saturdays.

I told you. I stalked him. When I confessed to Clyde that I had stalked him, he kind of grinned. When I described his house, his pickup truck and his dog, he was a little rattled. Not to worry. My favorite independent bookseller told him I was harmless--for the most part. And you will notice that no photograph of Clyde washing his truck appears below. Even a literary stalker must have some degree of ethics. *ahem*

Edgerton was born in Durham, North Carolina in 1944. He was raised just outside Durham in a little place called Bethesda. He came from a long, long line of cotton and tobacco farmers. Fortunately, his parents were the first of their family to leave the farm. Otherwise, well--Clydge Edgerton would not have become an author I would have ended up stalking.

He doesn't look like it, but Edgerton was a fighter pilot for five years from 1966 to 1971. You can read about Edgerton's love of flight and his combat flights over Vietnam in Solo: My Adventures in the Air.


Edgerton flew combat reconnaissance over the Ho Chi Minh trail for over a year. Sticking with a downed pilot until his comrade was pulled out earned him the Distinguished flying cross.


Flip through any biographical article about the man and you'll find out most folks figured he would end up being a baseball player or a rock musician. His parents and his twenty three aunts and uncles never took him to have a literary bent. But it was listening to all those storytellers in his family that turned him into the writer with an extraordinary ear for dialog and an eye for the natural humor of human foibles.

Characters flow out of Clyde Edgerton as easily as water falls off the sides of mountains in Western North Carolina. By the time you've become familiar with Edgerton's books, you realize this is a man who knows and loves people, warts and all.

Now, Raney was not the first Edgerton I read. The first was Walking Across Egypt which came out in January, 1987. I was so enthusiastic over that one I was ecstatic to find a paperback of Raney.

I have read Raney three times. The last time was when I read it aloud to my wife. I figured she would enjoy it, especially since Clyde had sung "Safety Patrol" to her. And she did enjoy it. Immensely. She giggled, hooted, belly laughed, cried, guffawed and snorted a few times. Me, I'm impervious to such things and just kept right on reading, in character, of course. I am a professional. Do not try this at home. The Carol Burnett gang would not have cracked me up. When you are in character, you are in character.

Generally, you'll find a book blurb that says read it, read it aloud, read it to someone else (I did) and give it away (I won't.) Buy your own copy. Stalk Edgerton yourself. It's good for you. The breakfast at The Salt Mine is not good for you. But it is good. Stalking authors is fun. It builds character. Maybe he'll sing to you, too.

Anyway, Raney Bell is a very proper young Lister, NC, lady, who sings like a nightingale--bluegrass ballads--that'll have you tearing your heart out and stomping it flat, or fluttering around like a blue bird because it's one of the happy toe tapping ones. She is a Free Will Baptist. God's in his Heaven and all's right with the world, and her mother, daddy, and all her aunt's and uncles, too.

Then up pops this new librarian down at the library in downtown Lister. His name is Charles. And he is not from Lister. He is all the way from ATLANTA, Georgia. You know what those people are like in Atlanta. They have funny ideas. They are LIBERAL. And Charles is not Free Will Baptist. He is EPISCOPALIAN! You KNOW what THEY are like.

But Charles loves bluegrass music as much as Raney. He can sing and play the guitar, too. You would NEVER know he was from Atlanta if he would only sing songs. But he has to come to dinner and you can't sing all the time. And when you can't sing you have to talk politely. But Charles goes telling Uncle Nate about there being no difference between black people and white people. You could have heard a pin drop.

Now, all this happens back in 1975. And it does happen in NC. And sometimes, people like Uncle Nate who was never the same after the WWII, uses the N WORD.

What you all (I have translated that for Y'ALL) have to understand is that people like Uncle Nate and Raney and all her kin don't have a mean bone in their body. Their politically incorrect thinking comes from ignorance, not malice.

You ALL will see this when it turns out that Charles' best man is B-L-A-C-K! It turns out he's no stranger than Charles' own mother who is a VEGETARIAN!!! Now, feeding her at the reception is gonna be hard.

So in this short little book you all will be sad to see it over, we see Raney get married to an Episcopalian from Atlanta, GA. An' we get to see how two people as different as day and night live and love together for a year and grow alike as two peas in a pod and go together just like peas and carrots--just like Forrest and Jenny, except Raney was never flighty like that Jenny.

After Edgerton did his Air Force duty, he went back to the University of North Carolina where he got his Masters in English. He taught at his own former high school where he was one of the favorite teachers there. He obtained his PhD in English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Edgerton took a teaching position at Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina, a Baptist School.

Campbell University, the Baptist School without a sense of humor

After watching Eudora Welty read one of her short stories Edgerton decided to become a writer as well as a teacher. After the publication of Raney Mr. Edgerton and Campbell University parted ways. Some Baptists just have NO sense of humor.

So, if you are not a Baptist, or you are a Baptist with a sense of humor or any other thing you want to be because that's all right with Clyde and me, read this book. Read it aloud. Read it to someone you love. Give a copy to a friend. Make it your copy. You're not getting mine.

For Anne and Bill Boston, from Dallas, not Shreveport, who had the good sense to move to Wilmington, NC, who know where Clyde Edgerton lives, and who just sent me a signed copy of Edgerton's latest, The Night Train: A Novel from Two Sisters Bookery.

Two Sisters Bookery, 318 Nutt Street, Wilmington, NC

Why is this review being circulated again? Well, I'm trying to set up a meeting with Professor Edgerton at UNCW to get a submission to "On the Southern Literary Trail," and get that copy of "Solo" signed.
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Reading Progress

06/09/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-19 of 19) (19 new)

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Melki Awww...I love this book. Sadly, I only have a battered paperback. I very much enjoyed your story. Funny...never had you pegged for the stalker type...

message 2: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Keeten Great Review Mike. Glad to know I'm not the only author stalker on goodreads.

message 3: by Tony (last edited Jan 22, 2012 03:06PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tony After I read Raney many years ago, I thereafter only called them 'Dinners'.

message 4: by Bettie☯ (new)

Bettie☯ Brilliant!

Lawyer Bettie wrote: "Brilliant!"

Thanks, Bettie. Edgerton is a favorite. I eagerly await each new book.

Lawyer Chelsea wrote: "Mike, I've not read the book so I cannot say which is funnier, the book or your quite hilarious review! *grin*

Thanks for a most delightful review!


Chelsea, I admit I took the slapstick route on this one. But every word is true. My sister in law drove me by Edgerton's home. My wife wrapped her arms around me to keep me from leaping from the car. To say that he is a favorite of mine is an understatement. I've read each of his novels. Unfortunately,
Solo: My Adventures in the Airisn't signed. Hmmm...Ding, Dong. Uhm, Mr. Edgerton, remember me? We met in Homewood, Alabama. *GRIN*


message 7: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue Wonderful, the visuals in my mind are great!! I'm adding more books to my list.

Jenny (Reading Envy) Incredible story!

Lawyer Sue wrote: "Wonderful, the visuals in my mind are great!! I'm adding more books to my list."

My apologies for the late reply. I'm so often buried in books, I forget to check back on postings. *grin* I appreciate your comment very much.

Lawyer Jenny wrote: "Incredible story!"

Jenny, thanks for reading and your comment. Edgerton is endlessly entertaining. And, yes.

Raney is considerably shorter than Shadow Country. *grin*

message 11: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue I'm 75% through Raney now Mike and glad we chose it. An interesting read for the time and place.

Beverly I love the book Raney. It is very funny and one of my favorites. I read it a couple of years ago and when I finished it I ask my husband to read it. I told him some of the things in the book reminded me of people I knew as I grew up in a conservative (although not Freewill Baptist) church in the South. Although he said it was not the type of book he liked to read, he did read it and I heard him laughing aloud several times. He still talks about what a fun read it was.

message 13: by Beverly (last edited Mar 08, 2013 03:40AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Beverly Mike, I just noticed that I forgot to thank you in my comment for another great review. So thanks for the time you invest in writing such great reviews.

message 14: by Carol (new)

Carol Walking Across Egypt is a book that always comes up on lists for Southern tradition in writing and for its humor.

You have provided far more than I never knew about Mr. Edgerton. Thanks Mike.

Lawyer Carol wrote: "Walking Across Egypt is a book that always comes up on lists for Southern tradition in writing and for its humor.

You have provided far more than I never knew about Mr. Edgerton. Tha..."

Thanks, Carol. You can probably tell I greatly admire the man and his work. I had the pleasure of visiting with him at his office at UNCW yesterday. It was truly a memorable experience.

message 16: by Carol (new)

Carol How fortunate for you...I'll bet this was quite an experience.

message 17: by Patty (new)

Patty Thanks for this lovely story. I have heard Mr. Edgerton read The Floteplane Notebook and play his banjo. I do understand why you would stalk him. He is amazing.

Lawyer Patty wrote: "Thanks for this lovely story. I have heard Mr. Edgerton read The Floteplane Notebook and play his banjo. I do understand why you would stalk him. He is amazing."

Patty, thanks for your time in reading and your kind words. Edgerton has delighted me from Raney to The Night Train. My visit with him was very special. The invitation to comeback whenever in Wilmington is the kind of welcome you would expect.

message 19: by Miriam (new)

Miriam You know what those people are like in Atlanta. They have funny ideas. They are LIBERAL.

Atlantans? Liberal? I guess it's all relative...

p.s. Stalker!

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