Clyde Edgerton: Vietnam Vet, Jet Pilot, and . . . Small Town Housewife

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Clyde Edgerton: Vietnam Vet, Jet Pilot, and . . . Small Town Housewife

Few men have attempted to write using a woman's voice. Those who do choose to use the persona of a woman often fail in their effort, creating a character who does not quite sound authentic. Critics usually note the author's inadequacies and point out difficulties when an author tries to capture the voice of a person of the opposite gender. One exception is Clyde Edgerton in his first novel, Raney. The voice of Raney seems genuine and Edgerton received great acclaim for his novel. Public acceptance of Edgerton speaking as a young woman may be attributed to a number of factors involving the attitudes of the author, of the character, and of critics.

Those who have interviewed Edgerton and reviewed his books are nearly all men. The one notable exception is author Barbara Kingsolver, who reviewed The Floatplane Notebooks in the New York Times Book Review. Not only does she neglect to take Edgerton to task for his use of a woman narrator in part of that novel, but she praises him generously and compares him to Jane Austen. Kingsolver obviously feels Edgerton can speak creditably as a woman, and she goes so far as to feel he is worthy to keep company with highly respected woman authors.

Another consideration may be that most critics have not yet found Edgerton. Raney was his first novel and he has not written another entirely from a womanþs point of view. His later works usually rotate among a large number of narrators, from a delinquent teenage boy to a wisteria vine in a family cemetery to a determined dog. If he had persisted in focusing upon women narrators as he became better known, he might have attracted more attention for that aspect of his work.

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...ete with blind spots and inconsistencies, and so is her male counterpart, Charles, who just might flush a cabbage core down the toilet, causing expensive plumbing problems. No one individual or gender is portrayed as perfection; all the characters are feeling their way down life's corridors. That seems to make Raney a good example of the human race rather than a representative of a gender issue.

Works Cited

Edgerton, Clyde. Raney. New York: Ballantine, 1985.

Kingsolver, Barbara. 'The Floatplane Notebooks." Rev. of The Floatplane Notebooks by Clyde Edgerton. New York Times Book Review. 9 Oct. 1988:10.

Kozikowski, Thomas. "Clyde Edgerton." Contemporary Authors. Ed. Susan Trotsky. Vol. 134. Detroit: Dale Research, 1992.

Robbins, Kenn. "A Conversation with Clyde Edgerton." The Southern Quarterly: A Journal of the Arts in the South. 30.1 (1991): 58-69.
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