Shade of the Raintree: The Life and Death of Ross Lockridge, Jr., Author of Raintree County

Shade of the Raintree: The Life and Death of Ross Lockridge, Jr., Author of Raintree County

Shade of the Raintree: The Life and Death of Ross Lockridge, Jr., Author of Raintree County

Shade of the Raintree: The Life and Death of Ross Lockridge, Jr., Author of Raintree County

Synopsis

Raintree County, the first novel by Ross Lockridge, Jr., was the publishing event of 1948. Excerpted in Life magazine, it was a Book-of-the-Month Club Main Selection, won MGM's Novel Award and a movie deal, and stood at the top of the nation's bestseller lists. Unfortunately, Lockridge's first novel was also his last. Two months after its publication the 33-year-old author from Bloomington, Indiana, took his own life. His son Larry was five years old at the time. Shade of the Raintree is Larry's search for an understanding of his father's baffling act. In this powerfully narrated biography, Larry Lockridge uncovers a man of great vitality, humor, love, and visionary ambition, but also of deep vulnerability. The author manages to combine a son's emotional investments with a sleuth's dispassionate inquiry. The result is an exhilarating, revelatory narrative of an American writer's life. With a new preface by the author, this 2014 paperback edition marks 100 years since the birth of Ross Lockridge, Jr.

Excerpt

This new printing of Shade of the Raintree, originally published by Viking in 1994, marks the centennial of the birth of Ross Lockridge, Jr. on April 25, 1914. It is fitting that the university press located in Lockridge’s hometown, Bloomington, Indiana, is bringing the biography back in print.

Among the reasons I undertook the biography in late 1988 was that an earlier reading of the life in novelist John Leggett’s best-selling dual biography Ross and Tom: Two American Tragedies (Simon & Schuster, 1974) was under-researched and made much use of “novelization” to fill the gaps. the portrait that emerged—of a benighted egoist who tempted the fate he suffered—was at best an oversimplification. I did not wish to indulge in hagiography at the other end of character assessment and thought of my undertaking as in part forensic. I wished to know more of who this person was, what he wrote and attempted to write, and what ultimately went wrong. I entered, with a sense of the uncanny, the wealth of documents my father left behind and the memory banks, sometimes clear, sometimes faded, of those who knew him.

Without making value judgments of my own, I also hoped to get Raintree County back on the literary map as a cultural document of . . .

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