A whole new life

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Atheneum, 1994 - Biography & Autobiography - 213 pages
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Reynolds Price has long been one of America's most acclaimed and accomplished men of letters-- the author of novels, stories, poems, essays, plays, and a memoir. In "A Whole New Life", however, he steps from behind that roster of achievements to pre sentus with a more personal story, a narra tiveas intimate and compelling as any work of the imagination.

In 1984 a large cancer was discovered in his spinal cord ("The tumor was pencil-thick and gray-colored, ten inches long from my neck-hair downward"). Here, for the first time, Price recounts without self-pity what became a long struggle to withstand and recover from this appalling, if all too common, affliction (one American in three will experience some form of cancer). He charts the first puzzling symptoms; the urgent surgery that fails to remove the growth and the radiation that temporarily arrests it (but hurries his loss of control of his lower body); the occasionally comic trials of rehab; the steady rise of severe pain and reliance on drugs; two further radical surgeries; the sustaining force of a certain religious vision; an eventual discovery of help from biofeedback and hypnosis; and the miraculous return of his powers as a writer in a new, active life.

Beyond the particulars of pain and mortal illness, larger concerns surface here-- a determination to get on with the human interaction that is so much a part of this writer It's much-loved work, the gratitude he feels toward kin and friends and some (though by no means all) doctors, the return to his prolific work, and the "now appalling, now astonishing grace of God."

"A Whole New Life" offers more than the portrait of one brave person in tribulation; it offers honest insight, realistic encouragement, and inspiration to others who suffer the bafflement of catastrophic illness or who know someone who does or will.

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A whole new life

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While walking with Price across the Duke University campus in the spring of 1984, a colleague noticed Price's awkward gait. That incident marked the beginning of the novelist's four-year "collision ... Read full review

Contents

Section 1
1
Section 2
37
Section 3
71
Copyright

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About the author (1994)

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.