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A Common Room, Essays 1954-1987 Paperback – April 18, 1989

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Novelist Price, who is sometimes called a regional writer, notes that Twain, Faulkner, Hardy and Turgenev also might fit this rubric. He argues here that great novelists combine rural and urban concerns into one overarching perspective, then he applies this yardstick to his fellow Southern writers as well as to Jewish-American fiction. This mixed bag of essays from the past 35 years offers controversial viewpoints. For example, Price suggests that Hemingway's essential themeunbeknownst to himself and his readerswas saintliness, the quest for virtue instead of manly strength. Adopting Confederate-style oratory, Price transforms a journalistic piece on Jimmy Carter into a meditation on the South's role in shaping American politics and culture. He ponders whether sweeping industrialization and mass media will silence the traditions of Southern fiction. Conversational essays interweave childhood reminiscences, relentless scrutiny of his own work and appreciations of Milton, James, Welty, Graham Greene and Tennessee Williams.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

From first (an undergraduate's ardent reaction to Vanity Fair ) to last (a personal religious credo), Price's densely styled essays reveal an astonishing range of interest and amateur expertise. The particular warmth of his passion for narrative radiates from his exploration of such subjects as Hemingway and the Bible. Price dislikes the label "Southern writer" but observes Jimmy Carter's Plains, Georgia, with an insider's eye, and is perhaps best in repeatedly evoking a Depression-era childhood in North Carolina and an education at Duke, where he is now a teacher. Price's essays show an informed, passionate, truly seeking mind at work. Charles C. Nash, Cottey Coll., Nevada, Mo.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner Paper Fiction; 1st Atheneum paperback ed edition (April 18, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689708173
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689708176
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,927,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Reynolds Price was born in Macon, North Carolina in 1933. Educated at Duke University and, as a Rhodes Scholar, at Merton College, Oxford University, he has taught at Duke since 1958 and is now James B. Duke Professor of English.

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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Peterson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
I like browsing in books of essays and ephemera from authors whose fiction I have enjoyed. Having recently read and enjoyed two of Reynolds Price's novels - "A Long and Happy Life" and "Kate Vaiden" - I turned to this 1987 collection of various short pieces he had written over the span of thirty-three years.

Price (b. 1933, d. Jan. 20, 2011) grew up in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, near the Virginia border. He went to college at Duke, and beginning in 1958 he began teaching there, which he continued doing for the rest of his life. Much of his fiction (including the two novels I read) is set in the South, and he now is commonly thought of as a "Southern Author". A COMMON ROOM reflects general acceptance of that classification, although tinged at times with mild vexation. Particularly noisome for Price is the bromide that as an author he was shaped by Faulkner. "There is no such influence, formal or emotional. But I am not alone in receiving this reiterated charge. No southern writer who has chosen to write about the South * * * has escaped the burden."

Through the fifty-plus pieces contained in A COMMON ROOM there weave three principal subjects: the South, literature, and Price's very personal Christianity. There are several pieces (from the late Seventies) about Jimmy Carter; three pieces each relating to William Faulkner and Eudora Welty and two relating to Ernest Hemingway; and six or so relating to the Bible and/or Biblical narrative. The book also contains, piecemeal, a lot about Reynolds Price and his work. (Rosacoke, the inimitable heroine of "A Long and Happy Life", owes her singular name to a fellow student of Price's at Duke, Rosa Coke Boyle. Kate Vaiden's distinctive voice was inspired by Price's mother.
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