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Noble Norfleet

Price, Reynolds

102 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0743204174 / ISBN 13: 9780743204170
Published by Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, U.S.A., 2002
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Kennedy Books (Jamestown, ND, U.S.A.)

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FINE/FINE unread copy protected by Brodart Archival cover. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 000630

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Noble Norfleet

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 2002

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: First Edition.

About this title

Synopsis:

Among American novelists, Reynolds Price has few peers as a teller of lives. Beginning with Kate Vaiden, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1986, and continuing with Blue Calhoun and Roxanna Slade, he has created -- in their own voices -- characters who lay their whole lives before us with all the honesty and eloquence they can muster. Their confessions may at first seem ordinary; but as they speak, they reveal both their uniqueness and their secret kinship with almost any reader. Now in Noble Norfleet, Price offers his most ambitious life tale yet. A few days before he turns eighteen in 1968, a tragic event eliminates Noble Norfleet's family. With no close relatives to turn to, he stays with the old black woman who tended his childhood; and he throws himself recklessly into a love affair with his high-school Spanish teacher, a woman whose husband is away in Vietnam. Stunned and baffled by the onset of visions, he seeks guidance from his mother's Christian minister, only to find himself tangled in a thicket of another sort. When Noble graduates in the turbulent spring of the murders of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, he enlists in the army and serves in Vietnam as a combat medic. While there, he undergoes an inexplicable -- perhaps visionary -- experience that seems profoundly related to his recent past and his future. While he never fully comprehends what has occurred, he returns home compelled to continue his service, ultimately as a civilian nurse. For the next thirty years, his life is externally calm yet perpetually troubled by a compulsion to worship women -- above all, their bodies. Absorbed in a succession of such relations, heacquires few friends or external trappings, though he always remains a dutiful nurse; and he nears middle age in a loneliness he fears. Then an unexpected event forces him to rethink the old mystery that claimed his family. Faced with an ominous choice, he finally begins to accept the large duty he has tried to ignore through his whole adult life.

Review:

"And whether my story is a comedy, farce, or tragedy is a decision I'll leave to you if you care enough to make it," writes Reynolds Price near the close of his strange and epic novel Noble Norfleet, the prolific author's 34th published book in 40 years. Price toys with his readers when he writes the above quote, because the story of a Carolina boy whose insane mother murders her two youngest children in their sleep with an ice axe is, at its core, a Southern-fried epic. In this part coming-of-age drama (with many sexual misadventures described from inside the head of a hot-blooded male) and part tragic family saga, Noble emerges as an observer to his own life with few clues as to his survival. Hurtled from the sudden trauma of losing his younger siblings at age 17 to serving time in the tunnels as a medic in Vietnam, Noble seemingly chooses each new installment of his story as it flashes into his head spontaneously. He's no Forrest Gump, but between his bouts of resignation and his yearning for a mother who hardly remembers his name, Noble is a character in constant opposition, as scarred and as malleable as the South itself. --Emily Russin

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