R.I.P. Reynolds Price


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Author and scholar Reynolds Price died Thursday in North Carolina; he had suffered a heart attack on Sunday. Price was 77.

Price was born in North Carolina and, after taking time away in college, he made it his home. He began teaching at Duke in 1958 and lived in his Durham home for more than 50 years. But he didn’t think of himself as a regionalist. ‘I’m an American writer, for God’s sake,’ he told the Los Angeles Times in 2009. ‘Price, who is gay, also prefers to be called ‘queer,’ ‘ Susan Salter-Reynolds wrote in a profile of the author. ‘Wheelchair-bound since the removal of a tumor in his spine in 1985, he refers to himself as ‘cripple’ or ‘gimp’ rather than more polite designations.’


Price’s notable works include 1962’s ‘A Long and Happy Life,’ the 1986 National Book Critics Circle fiction finalist ‘Kate Vaiden’ and 1996’s ‘The Three Gospels.’ He published three memoirs: ‘Clear Pictures: First Loves, First Guides’ in 1989, ‘A Whole New Life’ in 1994, and ‘Ardent Spirits: Leaving Home, Coming Back’ in 2009.

In a news release about the author’s death, Duke wrote:

He had a commanding presence in the classroom, using his deep, rich voice to convey the beauty of the English language. For many years, Price taught courses on creative writing and the work of 17th-century English poet John Milton, as well as a course on the gospels in which students wrote their own version of a gospel story. Price’s Halloween reading of ghost stories and poems became a tradition on campus that lasted more than a decade.

Price was born in Macon, N.C., and was a graduate of Duke, where he returned to teach after a Rhodes scholarship took him to England. Read more about Price here.

-- Carolyn Kellogg