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The Tongues of Angels: A Novel [Paperback]

By Reynolds Price (Author)
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Item description for The Tongues of Angels: A Novel by Reynolds Price...

The award-winning and best-selling author tells the story of an artist who contemplates what he has gained -- and lost -- on the road to maturity.

Publishers Description
"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 Angels" is 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.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Scribner
Pages   192
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8" Width: 5.22" Height: 0.46"
Weight:   0.49 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 17, 2000
Publisher   Scribner
ISBN  074320221X  
ISBN13  9780743202213  

Availability  0 units.

More About Reynolds Price

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Reynolds Price (1933-2011) was born in Macon, North Carolina. Educated at Duke University and, as a Rhodes Scholar, at Merton College, Oxford University, he taught at Duke beginning in 1958 and was the James B. Duke Professor of English at the time of his death. His first short stories, and many later ones, are published in his "Collected Stories". "A Long and Happy Life" was published in 1962 and won the William Faulkner Award for a best first novel. "Kate Vaiden" was published in 1986 and won the National Book Critics Circle Award. "The Good Priest's Son" in 2005 was his fourteenth novel. Among his thirty-seven volumes are further collections of fiction, poetry, plays, essays, and translations. Price is a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and his work has been translated into seventeen languages.

Reynolds Price lived in Durham, in the state of North Carolina. Reynolds Price was born in 1933 and died in 2011.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Authors, A-Z > ( P ) > Price, Reynolds
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Classics
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Classics
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
6Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
7Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Historical

Reviews - What do customers think about The Tongues of Angels: A Novel?

a novel about healing  Aug 11, 2001
Told in retrospect, an older man's epiphany, this is a tale beyond coming-of-age, where a twenty-one-year-old camp art counselor first becomes aware of a healing path which has been opened for him. It takes a lifetime of experience and reflection to fully accept responsibility for his journey, to understand the need to be healed, and to realize how the path, now perhaps less arduous, will continue to challenge and nurture him long after the catalytic events, their time and place, have lost all presence but that seared in his heart.

The story is of the chaste friendship between the art counselor and a charismatic, gifted boy with a traumatic past and a foreboding future. As the reluctant tutor seeks to channel the glint of promise he senses in his unpredictable, willful ward, he is forced to confront his own talent, feelings, and perspective. Unknowingly and subtly, ward becomes tutor, not in overt, controlling ways, but as mirror, spiritual twin, unwitting angel. This interaction constitutes the body of the work, and anchors the subtextual meditations about art, mysticism, generosity, and understanding with which the keen, sensitive mind of the then counselor would thereafter struggle, so as to become true to himself and one with life. These are no mere conceptual musings, but disquieting thoughts that question accepted values, the stirring of moral and aesthetic passions which revolt at what is false, at what contradicts the inner self, and demand action. For an artist it translates as the self-justified need to express in one way and not any other. The battleground is mundane: heart and mind engaged in the daily course of living, at summer camp or elsewhere.

Mr. Price lays all out soberly, with language that is never labored, precious or pretentious. The scope of the work remains intimate, the insights acute and immediately relevant. The counselor's interior struggle becomes our own as the narrative focuses on probing the self as it reaches out for love. Indeed a path begins to emerge as we witness, through the tale, the dynamics of healing: living, thinking about our lives, taking in and letting go, allowing the synergy to propel.

Without Mr. Price's disciplined execution, this work could have been an inflated horror. Which is to say: the basic dramatic situation is recognizably stock. But Mr. Price's art, like truth, is great, and resides in the modifiers. As one reads, the novel keeps surprising by being "better" than somehow one anticipates; it builds to genuine exhilaration. The humor is serious, the tone that of a thoughtful man looking back so as to keep moving safely forward. There is tragedy, perhaps self-fulfilling, but of the sort that anoints. Paradoxically, it feels less than total: part of its finality is to keep on nurturing. "What might have been" is shown to be truly irrelevant. To the extent that there is such a thing as destiny, one is satisfied that each character has fulfilled his own. There has been no sacrifice. Fulfillment is a gift for all. "The Tongues of Angels" continues to haunt, serenely, long after it has been read.

This was the first Reynolds Price novel I ever read. It was a serendipitous find. It occupies a special place in my reading life. I�ve read since several of his other novels and some of his poetry. All of them reward. Mr. Price is indeed a national treasure.

Fell Short of Expectations  Aug 3, 2000
Reynolds Price is a poet, a fiction writer and an essayist. He's as talented as they come. That's clear in every well-crafted line he puts on paper here. Great parts of this short novel are intensely moving and wise, e.g. "it's one of the first great adult sadnesses, coming to see what you've chosen to waste, an hour too late." Just as gripping is young Rafe Noren's sudden quoting of the St. Paul verse which gives the book its title and is spoken again in the climatic scene with Bridge Boatner and Chief, the summer camp director, as they together realize that Rafe was an old soul in a young body.

But this book annoyed me as much as it impressed me. Narrator Boatner is the reason. He's by turns smug, whiney, and smitten. Smug in his reiterated insistence on his own talent as a painter, whiney in his incessant explication of how hard his father's death was on him (you're not the only person who lost a beloved father at 21, Boat), and smitten with 14 year old Rafe who is seldom permitted to be seen off his pedestal of perfect boy and thus never fully realized as a character. For example, Rafe can't be simply a splendidly talented interpreter of Indian dances; he's instead described thirty years later (this is a novel of remembrance) by Bridge as the finest male dancer he's ever seen including all the Russian ballet greats. I'm sorry, that's hyperbole and it undercuts the narrator's credibility. Or, on one hand, Bridge is insisting that he really hasn't thought all that much about Rafe in 30 years, or that he probably didn't spend more than an hour alone with him in the entire summer, and yet he meticulously recreates long dialogues with Rafe and recalls every detail of their contact. In the final pages he infuriated me by declining to own up to his crucial, though not directly causatory, role in what happens to Rafe.

Love the message, can't stand the messenger. It translates to three stars out of five in my book.

An insightful novel, focusing on interpersonal relationships  Mar 2, 1999
Bridge Boatner, a college student, enters the world of Juniper summer camp as a counselor. As the world seems to stop in the bubble of the camp, Bridge comes into contact with one very special person, one who belongs to a horrible past. Taking place before all of the modern evils of our society, such as free love, and the marajuana movement, it focuses on the relationship between a very talented boy and his fresh camp counselor. With a camp full of prepubescent boys, themes such as sexuality and religion play a deep part in the story line. However, the overwhelming theme is about Bridge, and whether or not he did for the boy, what he couldn't do for his father.

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