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. (December)
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.