In the fall of 1993, Alice Winkler of National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" asked Reynolds Price to write a short story for a Christmas morning broadcast. This assignment would result in NPR's inviting Price to join its varied group of commentators on "All Things Considered." The laws of radio require a concision that has become a welcome new discipline for Price; and here are all the personal essays which he has broadcast since July 25, 1995.
Whether recounting events from his past, examining the details of his current experience as a writer, teacher, traveler, and general witness of the world, Price demonstrates in his direct prose that a writer can instantly connect with his audience. He discusses a few predictable topics -- family, the poisonous mysteries of racial intolerance, and faith -- but he also deals with new matters: capital punishment, Gone With the Wind, his adventures while navigating an immensely inaccessible America in a wheelchair; and he provides a memorable piece on childlessness. Throughout, Price never loses sight of the origin of either the word or the spirit of the essay -- the French word connotes a try, an attempt -- and each piece here is a well-formed, revealing, often amusing and refreshing foray into a moment unlike any we've encountered in other forms from him. We're unlikely to read more thought-provoking work from a commentator for a great time to come.
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.
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