ISBN13:978-0743202213 ISBN10: 074320221X This edition has also been released as: ISBN13: 978-0689120930 ISBN10: 0689120931
Summary: ''I'm as peaceful a man as you're likely to meet in America now, but this is about a death I may have caused. Not slowly over time by abuse or meanness but on a certain day and by ignorance, by plain lack of notice. Though it happened thirty-four years ago, and though I can't say it's haunted my mind that many nights lately, I suspect I can draw it out for you now, clear as this noon. I may need to try.''Set in a summer camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains during the deceptively tranquil
1950s,The Tongues of Angelsis a story of the twenty-one-year-old painting teacher, a superbly gifted boy, and their advance toward a startling fate. As the now-older man looks back at on that summer, he reflects on the meanings he thought he had learned on the threshold of manhood from the perspective of full maturity.
Summary: ''I'm as peaceful a man as you're likely to meet in America now, but this is about a death I may have caused. Not slowly over time by abuse or meanness but on a certain day and by ignorance, by plain lack of notice. Though it happened thirty-four years ago, and though I can't say it's haunted my mind that many nights lately, I suspect I can draw it out for you now, clear as this noon. I may need to try.''Set in a summer camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains during the deceptively tranquil 1950s,The Tongues of Angelsis a story of the twenty-one-year-old painting teacher, a superbly gifted boy, and their advance toward a startling fate. As the now-older man looks back at on that summer, he reflects on the meanings he thought he had learned on the threshold of manhood from the perspective of full maturity. ...show less
Edition/Copyright:90 Cover: Paperback Publisher:Charles Scribner's & Sons Published: 10/17/2000 International: No
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Chapter 1 I'm as peaceful a man as you're likely to meet in America now, but this is about a death I may have caused. Not slowly over time by abuse or meanness but on a certain day and by ignorance, by plain lack of notice. Though it happened thirty-four years ago, and though I can't say it's haunted my mind that many nights lately, I suspect I can draw it out for you now, clear as this noon. I may need to try.I was twenty-one, an official man. I could almost surely have held him back; he deserved to stay. It wouldn't have taken a hero to do it, just a person with more common sense than I had at the time and, as I said, more attention to things. Half the mistakes I've made till now are mistakes of attention. I haven't really watched or I watched too close. And the only consolation I've had, for his death at least, is the hope that I learned a necessary lesson and that -- from his short life, short not small -- I made a part of the work I've done.I'm a painter, of pictures not houses. From the time I started, back before grade school and down till now, everything I paint tries to look like the world, not just the world behind my eyes. And since I've been lucky and determined enough to support myself with mainly representational pictures, right through the abstract expressionist years, I've used the place and hour of his death a good many times -- the actual air and light of that evening.It happened the summer of 1954 at a boys' camp in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. I was a counselor there for ten weeks between my third and fourth years of college. He was a camper, age fourteen -- Raphael Noren. That was two syllables, pronouncedRAY-fieldwith the d silent. Fourteen was the oldest you could be at Camp Juniper, pending a dispensation in the event of arrested development. All this was two decades before the nutritional boom of the postwar years excited all the hormonal clocks and made us a nation of sexually precocious giants. But even back then, after age fourteen you were too hot to handle and likely to be more of a bad influence than not.Rafe was a lot of things; but whatever else, he was not a bad influence. Not intentionally, not on boys his own age. He laid down around him, and several steps ahead, the grave and pleasing air of a generous heart. Most children look out, grab a sight or two, run home and think about what it means forthem.Rare was the only outward-looking child I ever knew or heard of. Somehow he felt safe enough to watch the world. One way or other, everybody felt that trait as somehow unnerving. And we all responded according to our natures. A surprising lot of Rafe's elders laughed. Though they couldn't admit it, he was plainly too grown. But the one thing nobody did was ignore him.Rafe's draw worked in all directions, and that too came from his watchful ways. Very few people think that they've been noticed enough, and they almost always rise to the bait. They tend to think it means you like them. And Rare was all but factory-set to believe the best about everybody and everything. Not that he liked everything he saw. But if you were human, Rafe hoped he could please or at least amuse you. And besides his face, he'd already got his grown man's voice. It was a substantial baritone with none of the hints of embryonic preacher, politician or other fund-raiser that some boys get with premature manhood. It helped him a lot.His face was also well advanced in its walk towards the uncluttered dignity it might have had at forty. And though his body was still supported on the compact bones of childhood, he was taller than his age -- maybe five foot nine -- and the skin of his calves and lower belly had grown the gold hair of first manhood. I'd grown it myself, only seven years before. But young as I' was, I could already see it wearing away on my ankles and losing the metallic luster that makes you feel more like some brand of ram with gold f
Reginald OllenThe NationOne comes away from this novel with the certainty that, regardless of what cultural baggage -- or garbage -- we carry into the forest, the majesty of nature and the mysterious spirit of our Native American past are things to carry home forever.
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