Price, (Edward) Reynolds 1933-
PRICE, (Edward) Reynolds 1933-
PERSONAL: Born February 1, 1933, in Macon, NC; son of William Solomon and Elizabeth (Rodwell) Price. Education: Duke University, A.B. (summa cum laude), 1955; Merton College, Oxford, B. Litt., 1958.
ADDRESSES: Home—813 Duke Station, Box 99014, Durham, NC 27708. Offıce—Department of English, Duke University, 304G Allen Bldg., Durham, NC 27708. Agent—Harriet Wasserman Literary Agency, Inc., 137 East 36th St., New York, NY 10016-3528.
CAREER: Duke University, Durham, NC, instructor, 1958-61, assistant professor, 1961-68, associate professor, 1968-72, professor of English, 1972-77, James B. Duke Professor of English, 1977—, acting chair, 1983. Writer-in-residence at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1965, University of Kansas, 1967, 1969, 1980, and University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 1971; Glasgow Professor, Washington and Lee University, 1971; faculty member, Salzburg Seminar, Salzburg, Austria, 1977. National Endowment for the Arts literature advisory panel, member, 1973-77, chair, 1977.
MEMBER: American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Delta Theta.
AWARDS, HONORS: Angier Duke scholar, 1955; Rhodes scholar, 1955-58; William Faulkner Foundation Award for notable first novel, and Sir Walter Raleigh Award, both 1962, both for A Long and Happy Life; Guggenheim fellow, 1964-65; National Association of Independent Schools Award, 1964; National Endowment for the Arts fellow, 1967-68; National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, 1971; Bellamann Foundation Award, 1972; Lillian Smith Award, 1976; Sir Walter Raleigh Award, 1976, 1981, 1984, 1986; North Carolina Award, 1977; D. Litt., St. Andrew's Presbyterian College, 1978, Wake Forest University, 1979, Washington and Lee University, 1991, and Davidson College, 1992; National Book Award nomination for translation, 1979, for A Palpable God; Roanoke-Chowan Poetry Award, 1982; National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction, 1986, for Kate Vaiden; Elmer H. Bobst Award, 1988; Fund for New American Plays grant, 1989, for New Music; R. Hunt Parker Award, North Carolina Literary and Historical Society, 1991; finalist for Pulitzer Prize in fiction, 1994, for The Collected Stories.
A Long and Happy Life, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1987.
A Generous Man, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1966.
Love and Work, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1968.
The Surface of Earth (also see below), Atheneum (New York, NY), 1975.
The Source of Light (also see below), Atheneum (New York, NY), 1981.
Mustian: Two Novels and a Story, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1983.
Kate Vaiden, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1986.
Good Hearts, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1988.
The Tongues of Angels, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1990.
Blue Calhoun, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1992.
Michael Egerton, Creative Education (Mankato, MN), 1993.
The Promise of Rest (also see below), Scribner (New York, NY), 1995.
Roxanna Slade, Scribner (New York, NY), 1998.
A Singular Family, Scribner (New York, NY), 1999.
A Great Circle: The Mayfield Trilogy (contains TheSurface of Earth, The Source of Light, and The Promise of Rest), Scribner (New York, NY), 2001.
Noble Norfleet, Scribner (New York, NY), 2002.
The Names and Faces of Heroes, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1963.
Permanent Errors (short stories and novella), Atheneum (New York, NY), 1970.
The Foreseeable Future: Three Long Stories, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1990.
An Early Christmas, North Carolina Wesleyan College Press (Rocky Mount, NC), 1992.
The Collected Stories, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1993.
Early Dark (three-act; adapted from A Long andHappy Life; first produced Off-Broadway, 1978), Atheneum (New York, NY), 1977.
Private Contentment, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1984.
New Music (trilogy; contains August Snow, NightDance, and Better Days; produced in Cleveland, OH, 1989), Atheneum (New York, NY), 1990.
Night Dance, Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1991.
Better Days, Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1991.
August Snow, Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1991.
Full Moon and Other Plays, Theatre Communications Group (New York, NY), 1993.
Late Warnings: Four Poems, Albondocani (New York, NY), 1968.
Lessons Learned: Seven Poems, Albondocani (New York, NY), 1977.
Nine Mysteries: Four Joyful, Four Sorrowful, OneGlorious, Palaemon Press (Winston-Salem, NC), 1979.
The Annual Heron, Albondocani (New York, NY), 1980.
Vital Provisions, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1982.
The Laws of Ice, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1986.
House Snake, Lord John (Northridge, CA), 1986.
The Use of Fire, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1990.
The Collected Poems, Scribner (New York, NY), 1997.
(Author of introduction) Henry James, The Wings of the Dove, C. E. Merrill (Columbus, OH), 1970.
Things Themselves: Essays and Scenes, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1972.
Presence and Absence: Versions from the Bible (originally published as a pamphlet by the Friends of Duke University Library), Bruccoli Clark (Bloomfield Hills, MI), 1973.
The Good News according to Mark, West Coast Print Center (Berkeley, CA), 1976.
Oracles: Six Versions from the Bible, Friends of the Duke University Library (Durham, NC), 1977.
A Palpable God: Thirty Stories Translated from theBible with an Essay on the Origins and Life of Narrative, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1978.
Christ Child's Song at the End of the Night, R. Price, self-published (Durham, NC), 1978.
A Final Letter, Sylvester and Orphanos, 1980.
Country Mouse, City Mouse (essay), North Carolina Wesleyan College Press (Rocky Mount, NC), 1981.
The Chapel, Duke University, Duke University Press (Durham, NC), 1986.
A Common Room: New and Selected Essays, 1954-1987, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1987.
Real Copies, North Carolina Wesleyan College Press (Rocky Mount, NC), 1988.
Clear Pictures: First Loves, First Guides (memoir), Atheneum (New York, NY), 1989.
Back before Day, North Carolina Wesleyan College Press (Rocky Mount, NC), 1989.
Home Made, North Carolina Wesleyan College Press (Rocky Mount, NC), 1990.
A Whole New Life: An Illness and a Healing (memoir), Atheneum (New York, NY), 1994.
The Honest Account of a Memorable Life: An Apocryphal Gospel, North Carolina Wesleyan College Press (Rocky Mount, NC), 1994.
(Editor and contributor) The Three Gospels: The GoodNews according to Mark, the Good News according to John, an Honest Account of a Memorable Life, Scribner (New York, NY), 1996.
Learning a Trade: A Craftsman's Notebook, 1955-1997, Duke University Press (Raleigh, NC), 1998.
Letter to a Man in the Fire: Does God Exist and DoesHe Care?, Scribner (New York, NY), 1999.
Feasting the Heart: Fifty-two Commentaries for theAir, Scribner (New York, NY), 2000.
A Perfect Friend (juvenile), Atheneum (New York, NY), 2000.
A Serious Way of Wondering: The Ethics of JesusImagined, Scribner (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor of poetry, reviews, and articles to periodicals, including Time, Harper's, Saturday Review, and Washington Post. Contributor to books, including The Arts and the Public, University of Chicago Press, 1967; and Symbolism and Modern Literature: Studies in Honor of Wallace Fowlie, Duke University Press, 1978. Editor, Archive, 1954-55; advisory editor, Shenandoah, 1964—. Writer, with James Taylor, of song "Copperline."
Price's books have been translated into over sixteen languages, including French, German, and Italian.
ADAPTATIONS: Clear Pictures was the basis for a television program of the same name produced by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), 1995.
SIDELIGHTS: Reynolds Price wears many hats—novelist, short-story writer, poet, playwright, essayist, teacher—but he is perhaps best known for works that feature the back roads and small towns of his native North Carolina. While Price dislikes the "southern writer" label, he nevertheless acknowledges the influence of venerable southern authors such as Eudora Welty. "One of the things [Welty] showed me as a writer was that the kinds of people I had grown up with were the kind of people one could write marvelous fiction about," he told the Washington Post. By concentrating on those aspects of the rural South he is most familiar with, Price has created a body of work noted for both its unique sense of place and offbeat characters. A bout with cancer of the spinal cord left Price paralyzed from the waist down in 1984; while the experience changed the writer's physical world, it also led to one of the most fertile periods of his career, including the publication of his much-acclaimed novel Kate Vaiden. Price explained his prolific output to the Washington Post by saying: "I don't write with a conscious sense of the hangman at my door, of my own mortality. But I am a tremendously driven person, and I have gotten more so since sitting down. Words just come out of me the way my beard comes out. Who could stop it?"
Price was born in Macon, North Carolina. His father was a traveling salesman who stayed close to home, while his mother was an "eccentric rogue" whose individuality greatly influenced her young son. Early on, Price found he had an aptitude for writing. His skill eventually won him a scholarship to Duke University and, after graduation, a Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford University. After his return from England, Price accepted a teaching position at Duke University, where his students included Anne Tyler and Josephine Humphries. Price still resides in North Carolina, preferring to remain where he feels most comfortable: near his students in a house filled with memorabilia he affectionately refers to as "a lotta stuff."
Price received a great deal of praise for his first novel, A Long and Happy Life. Primarily the story of country girl Rosacoke Mustain, A Long and Happy Life was especially lauded for its sense of style and strong characterizations. Interestingly, many critics compared the stylistic and thematic concerns of A Long and Happy Life to those in Price's highly praised 1986 novel, Kate Vaiden. Much of the praise given to both A Long and Happy Life and the more recent Kate Vaiden relates to Price's strong characterizations of women. According to Elaine Kendall in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, A Long and Happy Life "belonged almost entirely to the heroine Rosacoke Mustain, and each of the novels and stories following that stunning debut have been enlightened by unforgettable female protagonists. Kate Vaiden is the ultimate extension of Price's thesis, a first-person-singular novel written as the autobiography of a woman coming of age in the South during the Depression and war years." "At once tender and frightening, lyrical and dramatic, this novel is the product of a storyteller working at the height of his artistic powers," Michiko Kakutani commented in the New York Times. Price maintained that in focusing on characters like Kate, he was attempting to debunk the idea that "a man cannot 'understand' a woman and vice versa." By giving his female and male characters complex personas and motivations, Price created what he described for Kendall as "a contained look at a human hero," a character who is as much everywoman as everyman.
Carefully drawn characters constitute just one hallmark of Price's work. In novels such as The Surface of Earth and The Source of Light—which tell the stories of Eva Kendal and Forrest Mayfield and their descendants—he explores the boundaries of narrative, especially those that exist between written and spoken language, and the tension that arises between the individual and the family. "Basically, all my novels and short stories are invented, with little pieces of actual, observed reality and dialogue. The speech of my characters often comes from natives of eastern North Carolina, which is my home country," Price told Herbert Mitgang in the New York Times. Price's use of language is also heavily influenced by the Southern oral tradition. This tradition of tale-telling, with its heavy emphasis on history and drama, has offered a wealth of thematic concepts for Price. He told Elizabeth Venant in the Los Angeles Times Book Review that, "as long as there remains anything that's recognizably Southern—this strange society with a tremendously powerful black presence in it, its very strong connections with some sort of Christianity, a major heritage as an agrarian society, a slave-owning past, a tragic war fought and lost on the premises—as long as there's any kind of continuing memory of that, then I think literature will continue to rise from it."
Price concludes the story of the Mayfields in The Promise of Rest. Set in the 1990s, this novel centers on Hutchins, the grandson of Eva Kendal and Forrest Mayfield, who has become a poet/professor ensconced in his position in the English department at Duke University. He is divorced and his only son has left the family far behind for a life as an architect in New York City. When Hutch discovers that his son is suffering the ravages of AIDS, he travels north to bring the boy home to die. Here, noted John Gregory Brown in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, "Price takes on the horror of AIDS, a subject that seems a far departure from the usual bodily tragedies and triumphs of will that run like a swelling stream through the Southern novel." Yet, continued Brown, "this subject is no departure at all, for what is AIDS if not one more of this earth's unspeakable tragedies . . . bringing families together and tearing them apart."
"A book about the death from AIDS of a young man whose only sin was love should be urgent and alarming. It should risk detail," Peter S. Prescott wrote in the New York Times Book Review. But "Price musters no such feeling, and this is his novel's principal failure." In the opinion of Washington Post Book World contributor Bruce Bawer, however, "There is, to be sure, much that is moving and memorable" in The Promise of Rest. "Compared to the earlier Mayfield novels, this one is direct, authentic and at times heartbreaking in its urgency; at best, it has a spare spiritual power." Bawer noted Price's depiction of the tension between the goals of the individual and those of the family, but for Bawer, this characteristic weakened the book. "In the end, this book feels at odds with itself," he wrote, "torn between a respect for individual integrity and the notion that family counts above all." Brown conceded that "this novel is less successful than so much of Price's earlier work. But," he continued, "the very sincerity of The Promise of Rest, its unflinching gaze, its awful candor, can only leave the reader sad and grateful for such a book."
In Roxanna Slade Price presents another strong female protagonist who tells her own story. Once again, the setting is a small North Carolina town. Born in the year 1900, Roxanna recounts her life from her own, feisty, ninety-four-year-old perspective. "Using a first-person narrative plays to Price's strengths," a reviewer from Kirkus noted: "Roxanna's language is frank, seemingly unadorned, but subtly colored both by a tart regional flavor and a nicely idiosyncratic rhythm and pace." Roxanna's life is not an exceptional or distinguished one, but, according to Vanessa V. Friedman in Entertainment Weekly, "a life that is quiet—and quietly enthralling." An early tragedy—the drowning death of her first love—causes Roxanna to have a nervous breakdown. After her recovery she eventually marries the older brother of the man she had loved. She has children and grapples with the tasks of being a mother, until she discovers that her husband has engaged in a long-term infidelity. While trying to come to terms with it, she suffers the death of her parents. A Kirkus reviewer pointed out that in addition to depicting Roxanna's life, Price "also creates a rich portrait of a community dragged reluctantly out of its venerable agricultural existence into the raucous modern world."
Price drew on his memories of growing up in this "strange society" in order to write the memoir Clear Pictures: First Loves, First Guides. Begun during a particularly painful period in the author's convalescence following cancer treatments, Clear Pictures covers the first twenty-one years of his life. Price spends a great deal of time discussing the influence of his parents, especially his mother, Elizabeth, who, he admits, was in many ways the model for Kate Vaiden. Price also recreates, in great detail, the small towns that formed the backdrop of his youth: Macon, Asheboro, and Warrenton.
Clear Pictures met with an enthusiastic reception from critics, many of whom were impressed by Price's ability to depict the past in vibrant detail. Jonathan Kirsch in the Los Angeles Times Book Review remarked that Price "has returned to the secret world of his own childhood, a place where others have found a threatening and dangerous darkness, but Price discovered only the purest light. To be sure, he found suffering and terror and even death, and he describes them in sometimes heartbreaking detail, but Clear Pictures still glows with that bright, healing light." "Remarkable for its Proustian detail," noted Genevieve Stuttaford in Publishers Weekly, Price's "lucid biography portrays a mind learning to trust and reach out to the world."
Since his cancer diagnosis, Price has drawn much of his own inspiration from a past made clearer by self-hypnosis. First prescribed as an analgesic for the pain of his illness, self-hypnosis opened a floodgate of memories. "The sensation was so powerful that I felt as if I'd whiffed a potent drug," Price wrote in Clear Pictures. "As I began to feel the gathered force of so much past, I turned to write a story I'd planned but never begun." Price also used these memories when writing The Tongues of Angels, a novel about a precocious young boy's turbulent stay at summer camp. On one level a very basic look at camp life, The Tongues of Angels also contains discussions heavily grounded in philosophic thought. Many of Price's friends were moved by the book, especially those who had attended summer camp themselves. Price expressed his surprise at this development to John Blades of the Chicago Tribune: "I hadn't realized what a nerve I was touching. It seems that most of my friends . . . have strong and pleasant memories of their weeks, sometimes years, at summer camp. And they look back with a lot of fondness on the goofy but loveable institution that summer camp was in those days."
Price worked hard to prevent his illness from impeding either his life or his work. A basically happy man who claimed, "I think I am programmed to laugh every five minutes," he declined to discuss his recovery until publishing the memoir A Whole New Life: An Illness and a Healing. This book follows Price from the early, unrecognized signs of his cancer through diagnosis, surgery, and other treatments he underwent, to recovery and adaptation to life in a wheelchair. Of Price's account, Time contributor William A. Henry III wrote, "Joltingly frank, the dryly written tale ranges from religious visions . . . to matter-of-fact discussions of the mechanics of paraplegic excretion." Geoffrey Wolff commented in the Washington Post Book World, "There is about A Whole New Life an atmosphere of ferocious sanity and serenity."
A Whole New Life is the story of a man in a battle for his life. As Richard Selzer observed in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, "The man who emerges from these pages is feisty, gritty, angry, sometimes snobbish and, notwithstanding, most appealing. He makes no effort to portray himself as a saint or a martyr." Yet, because Price is also a writer, his memoir contains unique insights into a terrible condition. "Rarely if ever has a patient of Price's writerly gifts taken on the story of physical devastation," Henry maintained. "The weight of the subject has somewhat muted and simplified his normally fizzy prose. But the events emerge with awful clarity." Selzer concluded with gratitude that Price was able with time to look back on his experience. "There can be no sweeter use made of adversity than this act of generosity that comes in the form of a book," Selzer wrote.
Noble Norfleet, a novel in the tradition of the Southern gothic, is filled with outlandish happenings. It begins on Easter morning, when the title character, a seventeen-year-old student, awakens. He has lost his virginity the night before in the arms of his Spanish teacher. As the morning unfolds, he finds that his mentally-ill mother—deserted by her husband years before—has murdered his two younger siblings, stabbing them through their hearts with an ice pick. Although Noble's mother is arrested and imprisoned, it is unclear whether she really committed the crimes or if Noble, who is the narrator, is really the guilty party. His story continues, as he is subjected to the homosexual advances of his minister, joins the army and becomes a medic in Viet Nam, and finally returns home. Suzanne Rhodenbaugh, reviewing the novel in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, found the extreme events in Noble Norfleet so unbelievable as to render the book "often preposterous." Rhodenbaugh found the characters undeveloped and noted that the narrative "feels cobbled together." In her opinion, "Almost the only parts of this book that read as authentic and earned are the mysterious-crazy comments of the incarcerated, criminally insane mother, and the responses of elderly hospital patients." Linda Richards, a contributor to January Online, also felt that Noble Norfleet fails to accomplish all its author intended, yet she believed that it is still "a beautiful book. The writing here is superb, the characters finely drawn," Richards continued. "The first two-thirds of the book are nearly perfect. Price spins a beautiful web of tension and dangles many possibilities."
Price has been encouraged by the return of many aspiring young writers to their Southern roots. While some of these authors find inspiration in the fast pace of urban areas like Atlanta, others are rediscovering the storytelling tradition so closely identified with Southern culture. Price has also derived great pleasure and inspiration from his teaching and his students, many of whom maintain contact with the author long after they leave school. When teaching his writing course, he completes the same writing tasks he assigns his students. "I discovered earlier that I couldn't offer only one story for discussion, because the students were afraid of insulting the teacher," Price related to Publishers Weekly. "But if I do all the fairly elementary exercises required right from the beginning, that gives the students a truer sense that I'm in the same canoe as they are. They give me a quiet, fresh pair of glasses."
By writing along with his students, Price has also renewed his interest in the short story, a form he put aside for many years. Together with his older stories, stories written during his courses provide the material for The Collected Stories, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Reviewing the collection for the Washington Post Book World, Sven Birkerts concluded: "Price is a superb storyteller. His idiom, pitched to the rhythms of natural speech and built up of things seen, touched and tasted, is fresh and compelling, and he homes in unfailingly on the details that matter. This compendium, spanning the work of decades, shows off the full range of his talents."
Price began contributing commentaries to National Public Radio in 1995, and in 2000 many of these were collected in Feasting the Heart: Fifty-two Commentaries for the Air. "Recurring themes Price explores with particularly compelling insight include the cultural and emotional blessings of a small-town Southern boyhood, the difficulties—and surprising advantages—of being physically disabled . . . and the richness of his experiences as both a student and a teacher. Price displays an impressive talent for using few words to convey a great deal," reported a Publishers Weekly reviewer. A Booklist critic was also pleased with the collection, crediting Price with demonstrating "humor, poignancy," and "concision."
Price's The Collected Poems appeared in 1997. It brings together three previous volumes—Vital Provisions, 1982, The Laws of Ice, 1986, and The Use of Fire, 1990—along with more than eighty previously uncollected poems written since 1984. John Taylor, writing in Poetry, stated: "Here is a thick tome summing up a man's existence." According to Taylor, The Collected Poems "traces—especially in the sections written after 1984—a remarkable man's constant efforts to move from 'self-absorption,' as Price phrases it . . . to 'rescue,' by which he means 'a gradual outward look again at the world and other creatures.'" Price's "self-absorption" refers to his paralysis and his daily bouts with pain. Many of the poems have religious content, and Taylor feels that Price's "grappling with Biblical history and Christian eschatology manifests his faith in poetry as a tool not only for apprehending the spiritual but also (and especially) for healing nihilism and despair." Reviewing The Collected Poems for Library Journal, Graham Christian noted: "Price has always stood apart from contemporary movements in poetry, and although it is true he is not a technical innovator, it would be perilous to ignore him: he has a rare facility for making the strange familiar, and the familiar fresh." Brad Hooper of Booklist, who lauded Price as "one of the few true men of letters" in the United States, observed: "Despite his astonishingly wide vocabulary, soaring metaphors, and unhidden intelligence and knowledge, his poems are attractively accessible."
Price's novels, short stories, poems and memoirs often manifest a religious sensibility that reflects not only his upbringing but also his experience as a writer. In The Three Gospels: The Good New according to Mark, the Good News according to John, an Honest Account of a Memorable Life, he offers his translation of the gospels of apostles Mark and John as well as his own gospel. The result, according to Larry Woiwode in the Washington Post Book World, is a valuable book for anyone desiring a better understanding of these cornerstones of the Christian faith. Price's "prefaces to each are excellent," wrote Woiwode. "In fact, if anyone wanted an introduction to the Gospels, or wondered why they should have one, I would turn them first to Price's book, rather than any contemporary theologian. Price's book is that good, tempering a breadth of scholarly study with his good sense as an intuitive storyteller." The reviewer added that Price's versions make "a wonderfully engrossing book. It moves with a care and lucidity that should offend few . . . and should provide a new perspective for many."
Price's religious interests and concerns can also be found in Letter to a Man in the Fire: Does God Exist and Does He Care? In 1997 Price received a letter from a young medical student dying of cancer who asked the author the two questions Price included in the book's title. After speaking with the young man, Price decided that a lecture he was scheduled to deliver should address these questions. This volume expands upon that lecture, exploring the existence of human misery and why a righteous God would allow suffering to exist. To answer the question, Price presents a series of experiences from both his own life and other lives he has witnessed. He also gives examples from the Bible, Buddhist and Hindu scriptures, Dante, T. S. Eliot, and John Milton. Christian, again writing in Library Journal, felt that while "Price's ever-engaging prose does not offer new solutions to the problem of evil . . . many readers will gain comfort and insight from his depiction of a noninterfering but deeply loving God." James Wood in the New Republic granted that "Price's book is moving, and it is often wise and truthful about the mystery of suffering in a God-directed world." At the same time, Woods continued, Letter to a Man in the Fire "descends into circularity and a certain benign simplicity. Price has a weakness for seeing some good in all the defenses of God."
Price turns his storyteller's art to an analysis of the Bible in A Serious Way of Wondering: The Ethics of Jesus Imagined. As in his earlier books on religion, he clearly identifies himself as one who believes that Jesus Christ lived, and was a human incarnation of God. Yet he goes on to explore his many disagreements with institutionalized religions. The book had its genesis in lectures about ethics, as demonstrated by Jesus. Covering the gospel stories and filled with digressions on society, ethics, and his own life, the book also includes imagined narratives that illustrate the ways the author believes Christ would have reacted to a homosexual, a suicide, and woman who lives outside of traditional roles. Booklist reviewer Donna Chavez called these fictional passages "lucid, intelligent, never self-serving," and stated that "the results of his work are certain to provoke debate." A Publishers Weekly writer described the book as "elegant and passionate," and remarked that the stories within "compel us to imagine creatively our engagements with Jesus' teachings and the impact of those teachings on our lives." In an interview with Henry Carrigan for Publishers Weekly, Price commented: "I would hope that lots of different kinds of Christians would be able to read these stories and think about particular ethical dilemmas. I would hope that churches might encourage people to invent stories for a variety of ethical situations as a way of helping people to engage deeply the questions raised by those situations. Orthodox and Protestant Christianity has missed the boat on particular ethical issues such as homosexuality, but inventing stories offers us a way to imagine anew what Jesus might have done when confronted with a particular ethical dilemma."
Shortly after graduating from Duke University in 1955 Price began keeping a notebook "to set down in a single place anything . . . that seemed of possible use to the writer I meant to be." Learning a Trade: A Craftsman's Notebook, 1955-1997 presents more than forty years of such entries. Hooper, again writing in Booklist, stated: "The entries are hardly what could be called scribbling or jottings, because Price's famous eloquence (his penchant for luxurious metaphors and mixing down-home conversational style with 'big-wordism') is manifest in every perfectly executed sentence." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly felt that the lack of annotation "makes individual sections nearly incomprehensible if one has not read the titles in question," but also noted that the "dynamics of Price's creative process—complete with stops and restarts, repetitions and second thoughts—are illustrated in impressive detail." Reviewing Leaning a Trade for Library Journal, Henry L. Carrigan, Jr. commented: "The sketches for stories and novels, from A Long and Happy Life to . . . Roxanna Slade, as well as reflections on his teachers, family, and friends, give us a rare glimpse of the development of one of our master craftsmen. . . . To read these notebooks is to glimpse into the growth of a writer from apprentice to master."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 3, 1975, Volume 6, 1976, Volume 13, 1980, Volume 43, 1987, Volume 50, 1988, Volume 63, 1991.
Contemporary Novelists, 7th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2001.
Contemporary Southern Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 2: American Novelists since World War II, 1978, Volume 218: American Short-Story Writers since World War II, Second Series, 1999; Volume 278: American Novelists since World War II, Seventh Series, 2003.
Humphries, Jefferson, editor, Conversations with Reynolds Price, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 1991.
Kimball, Sue Leslie, and Lynn Veach Sadler, editors, Reynolds Price: From "A Long and Happy Life" to "Good Hearts," Methodist College Press (Fayetteville, NC), 1989.
Ray, William, Conversations: Reynolds Price and William Ray, Memphis State University (Memphis, TN), 1976.
Schiff, James A., Understanding Reynolds Price, University of South Carolina Press (Columbia, SC), 1996.
Schiff, James A., editor, Critical Essays on ReynoldsPrice, G. K. Hall, 1998.
America, October 15, 1988, p. 259; July 28, 1990, p. 67; August 31, 1991, p. 121; March 16, 1996, p. 18.
Atlanta Journal and Constitution, May 10, 1992, p. N8; June 14, 1992, p. N10; May 29, 1994, p. N8; August 14, 1994, p. M1; May 28, 1995, p. K10; May 31, 1995, p. C2; September 28, 2002, Phil Kloer, "Overachieving Visit for Prolific Price," p. C2.
Booklist, January 1, 1999, review of Roxanna Slade, p. 779; March 1, 1999, Brad Hooper, review of Letter to a Man in the Fire: Does God Exist and Does He Care?, p. 1131; August, 1999, review of The Promise of Rest, p. 2024, review of Roxanna Slade, p. 2025; October 15, 2000, Brad Hooper, review of Feasting the Heart: Fifty-two Commentaries for the Air, p. 410; November 15, 2000, Gillian Engberg, review of A Perfect Friend, p. 642; June 1, 2001, Joanne Wilkinson, review of Blue Calhoun, p. 1838; May 1, 1997, p. 1475; February 15, 1998, p. 948; November 15, 1998, p. 561; January 1, 1999, p. 779; March 1, 1999, p. 1131; June 1, 2003, Donna Chavez, review of A Serious Way of Wondering: The Ethics of Jesus Imagined, p. 1713.
Boston Globe, June 2, 1992, p. 55; June 6, 1993, p. B41; May 21, 1995, p. 77.
Chicago Tribune, May 11, 1990; May 26, 1994, section 5, p. 2; February 11, 1996, section 15, p. 1.
Christian Century, July 10, 1991, p. 678; November 23, 1994, p. 1108; November 22, 1995, p. 1128; June 5, 1996, p. 633; August 9, 2003, review of A Serious Way of Wondering, p. 32.
Christian Science Monitor, June 25, 1986, p. 21; June 8, 1992, p. 14.
Commonweal, August 12, 1988, p. 438; December 1, 1989, p. 678; May 22, 1992, p. 17; December 3, 1993, p. 22; June 17, 1994, p. 24; December 2, 1994, pp. 24, 29; September 11, 1998, p. 41.
Detroit News, July 17, 1989.
Entertainment Weekly, June 5, 1998, p. 77.
Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), July 2, 1988.
Horn Book, September, 2000, review of A PerfectFriend, p. 580.
Interpretation, January, 2000, Dwight N. Peterson, review of Letter to a Man in the Fire, p. 104.
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London Review of Books, April 23, 1987, p. 18.
Los Angeles Times, July 12, 1993, p. E3.
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Newsweek, June 23, 1986, p. 78; July 17, 1989, p. 54.
New Yorker, September 22, 1986, p. 116; August 14, 1989, p. 91.
New York Review of Books, September 25, 1986, p. 55.
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Observer (London, England), February 22, 1987, p. 29.
Palm Beach Post, March 25, 2001, Scott Eyman, review of Feasting the Heart, p. 6J.
People, May 11, 1999, p. 48.
Poetry, August, 1991, pp. 282-284; January, 1998, p. 227.
Publishers Weekly, March 13, 1987; April 21, 1989; December 15, 1989; January 24, 1991; March 14, 1994, p. 55; May 9, 1994, p. 51; January 8, 1996, p. 25; April 8, 1996, p. 60; May 26, 1997, p. 81; February 2, 1998, p. 78; November 16, 1998, p. 64; February 22, 1999, p. 81; November 1, 1999, review of Letter to a Man in the Fire, p. 51; August 14, 2000, review of A Perfect Friend, p. 355; October 2, 2000, review of Feasting the Heart, p. 70; May 27, 2002, review of Noble Norfleet, p. 33; May 12, 2003, review of A Serious Way of Wondering, p. 61, Henry Carrigan, interview with Price, p. 62.
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Tennessean, August 24, 2003, Ray Waddle, review of A Serious Way of Wondering, p. D16.
Time, July 10, 1989, p. 62; May 14, 1990, p. 89; May 23, 1994, pp. 66-67; May 22, 1995, p. 73.
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Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), January 25, 1987, p. 6; December 13, 1987, p. 3; April 17, 1988, p. 6; June 26, 1988, p. 1; June 11, 1989, p. 6; May 6, 1990, p. 3; June 2, 1991, p. 6; May 16, 1993, p. 1; September 25, 1994, p. 5; June 11, 1995, p. 3.
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Variety, March 21, 1994, p. 66.
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Washington Post Book World, July 6, 1986, p. 1; February 14, 1988, p. 6; April 10, 1988, p. 5; June 18, 1989, p. 3; May 6, 1990, p. 3; June 2, 1991, p. 1; May 10, 1992, p. 5; May 30, 1993, pp. 1, 7; June 12, 1994, pp. 1, 10; July 16, 1995, p. 4; May 5, 1996, pp. 4-5.
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MetroActive,http://www.metroactive.com/ (November 10, 2003), David Templeton, "The Vision Thing."*