Friday, January 21, 2011

RIP Reynolds Price

Post by Ingrid
Reynolds Price
I was stunned to find out that Southern author Reynolds Price died yesterday at the age of 77. I spent a considerable amount of time studying his first novel, A Long and Happy Life, for a class last semester (which, unfortunately, I also never got around to reviewing.)

I highly recommend you check out the article at the New York Times about his life, and if you are looking for a short, enjoyable read, I also highly recommend Price's very first book published in 1962, A Long and Happy Life. From the NYT article:

Few writers have made as dramatic an entrance on the American literary stage as Mr. Price, who published his first novel, “A Long and Happy Life,” in 1962 to near-universal acclaim for its pungent Southern dialogue, highly wrought prose style and vivid evocation of rural Southern life.
The novel — the tale of Rosacoke Mustian, a young woman desperate to clarify her relationship with an untamable boyfriend, Wesley Beavers — inspired critics to welcome Mr. Price as the brightest literary talent to emerge since the Southern Renaissance in the 1920s and 1930s. In an extraordinary vote of confidence, Harper’s Magazine published the novel in its entirety as a supplement.

Price also wrote a good deal of literary criticism and essays, some of which are found in the collection A Common Room, Essays 1954-1987. One of my favorites that I've read from this collection is an essay titled "A Vast Common Room," in which Price talks about the problem of writing a novel from the POV of the opposite gender. I was extremely impressed with Price's ability to get into the mind of his young female narrator in A Long and Happy Life, a process that he describes in depth in this essay.

It's a sad day in the literary world. RIP Reynolds Price.