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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Writing: That 'fearsome' vocation

“From the age of six I wanted to be an artist. At that point I meant a painter, but it turned out what I really meant was I was someone who was very interested in watching the world and making copies of it.” – Reynolds Price 
Widely admired as an acute observer of family life in small Southern towns, he won the William Faulkner Award for his very first novel, A Long and Happy Life, which might also have served as a great title for his own life despite fighting medical trauma for decades. 

Stricken with a rare tumor that left him a paraplegic at age 51, Price nonetheless went on to 25 more years of amazing writing, turning out reams of novels, essays, short stories, plays and poems.    Over a nearly 50-year writing career, complimented by his work as a teacher, Price produced 38 books, 14 of which were novels.  Among them were numerous best sellers, including The Surface of Earth and The Source of Light.
All of Price's novels are set in his native North Carolina,       
where he spent nearly his entire life.  Born on this date in 1933, he attended Duke University on a full scholarship, and then was named a Rhodes Scholar, studying at Oxford before returning to Duke to teach for the next 53 years.   As a professor he was lauded by students and faculty alike.  Among his students was the great Ann Tyler, who started her writing while still in his classes.  In 1987, Duke gave Price its highest honor:  The University Medal for Distinguished Meritorious Service.

“Writing is a fearsome but grand vocation — potentially healing but likewise deadly," he said in a late-in-life interview.  “I wouldn't trade my life for the world."

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