"Shade of the Raintree: The Life and Death of Ross Lockridge, Jr.," by Laurence Lockridge

November 1, 1995
In 1948, Ross Lockridge's novel Raintree County was a number one bestseller and acclaimed literary work. Yet, at the height of his fame at age 33, Lockridge killed himself. In a brilliant biography, his son Larry seeks understanding. Simultaneous release with the re-publication by Penguin of the long unavailable Raintree County.

From Publishers Weekly

Raintree County , a first novel published in 1948 by Houghton Mifflin, was a sensation. It won the $150,000 MGM novel prize, was a Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club and topped the bestseller lists. Three months after its publication, its 33-year-old author Ross Lockridge Jr. killed himself. His son, who was only five-years-old at his father's death, here brings a new perspective to the tragedy. The family saved everything written to and by Ross Jr., even the novelist's student notes secretly exchanged in high school classrooms. The younger Lockridge thus draws on a wealth of family letters, diaries and, most importantly, on Raintree County itself in depicting his father as a man whose faith in himself as a writer wavered until he could no longer handle the stress of actual publication. The novelist grew up and remained in Indiana; his father Ross Sr. was a local historian, his mother Elsie a strong and supportive presence. Ross Jr.'s wife Vernice bore his four children, typed the more than 2000 manuscript pages of Raintree County and desperately tried to stave off his depression.
His son, who teaches Romantic literature at New York University, is a passionate admirer of his father's novel though he struggles valiantly to approach it objectively. One senses that the novelist would be proud of his son: he has created a full portrait of life in the Midwest between the wars and of the collision of depression and the creative mind. It remains to be seen whether this insightful and affectionate biography will bring his father's novel a new audience. Now out of print, Raintree County will be reissued in paperback by Penguin simultaneously with the publication of this biography. Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Now remembered as a best seller that was often denounced for its bold sexuality, Raintree County was the life work of Indiana author Ross Lockridge Jr., who killed himself shortly after its publication in 1948. His son, Larry (English, New York Univ.), has written the first full-length study of the man, his roots, and the genesis of his work, to be published in conjunction with a paperback reissue of Raintree County (Penguin.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Movie - Raintree County (2Dvd)
Link to: Movie - Raintree County (2Dvd)
NOTE: possible multilanguage edition
5.0 out of 5 stars This book made me cry with sadness and joy., August 1, 1997
This review is from: Shade of the Raintree: The Life and Death of Ross Lockridge, Jr. (Paperback)
This book is a biography of his father, Ross Lockridge, Jr. The book was so good I almost emailed the author a few years ago to tell him so, but i wussed out. I read Larry's book right after reading Raintree County, and cried, and I never cry! It was so sad what happened to his father, not to mention America, for the loss of one of its' greatest authors, in my humble opinion. I highly reccomend it, but only for people who have read Raintree County.. I heard about Raintree County in James Michener's autobiography, "The World is My Home." (Pass on my email address to Larry Lockridge so maybe we can communicate)
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and informative, November 21, 2006
I tend to shy away from reading biographies written by family members of the subject, fearing the author's lack of objectivity. But having just read Raintree County on Sept 26, I decided to read this work by Ross Lockridge, Jr.'s son. That was a wise decision. I think the book is made better by the family insight which Larry Lockridge brings to the book, even though he was only five at the time of his father's death. The book is very well researched--probably better than it would have been if written by some unrelated author. And it is just as well written as it is researched, with it being clear that the author is an able and skilled writer. The reader gets caught up in the actually very impressive story, which goes thru the life of Ross Lckridge, Jr., in fascinating detail from his earliest years, thru his brilliant career at Indiana University (he amassed the highest grade score ever earned at the University), his time in Europe, his marriage to the love of his life on July 11, 1937, his teaching years, the writing of the book which has earned him a unique place in America's literary canon, and the fearsome events after the book was finished and when it was published. The account of the final months of the life made understandable to me what I had hitherto deemed inexplicable--that Ross Lockridge, Jr., should take his own life when his book was garnering nationwide attention. I am confident that anyone who reads Raintree County will be enriched by reading this excellent biography while the novel is still fresh in the reader's mind.


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