As Ardent Spirits rolls along, it begins to emit a relaxed, jangly hum…[it] is Mr. Price's third memoir…the best of this winning lot. It's occasionally slack and talky, the work of a porch-swing raconteur, but Mr. Price's warmth, vigor and good humor consistently shine through.
The New York Times
This engaging memoir…covers just six years in a young man's life, albeit a life that was unusually rich in friendships and youthful accomplishment…While much of Ardent Spirits feels agreeably conversational and digressive, Price's individual sentences and similes can be striking
The Washington Post
In this new memoir, award-winning novelist Price (Kate Vaiden) takes up where his 1989 Clear Pictures left off-with a young Price heading for England on a Rhodes scholarship, a young man lighting into new and unfamiliar territories and the lessons he learns about literature, life and love. Covering the years 1955 to 1961, Price chronicles the challenges of living in a strange place, his emotional insecurities and his anxieties about his ability to complete the thesis on Milton, his adventures in Europe with a close friend and his eventual return to his alma mater, Duke University, to teach writing and literature. Along the way, Price recalls his friendships with Stephen Spender, Cyril Connolly, W.H. Auden and his brief encounters with Jean-Paul Sartre and J.R.R. Tolkien. Price's memoir also displays the tenacious desire with which, after warm encouragement from Eudora Welty and William Styron, he embarks on a round of writing that produces his first novel, A Long and Happy Life, published to acclaim in 1962. Although the detail can be tiresomely meticulous, Price, as usual, powerfully articulates the strength of memory in shaping our lives and gracefully draws us into a literary life lived fully. Photos. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In his third memoir (after A Whole New Life), award-winning author Price details his life from 1955 to 1961-his studies at Oxford, where he befriended W.H. Auden and met such writers as Robert Frost and Eudora Welty; his European travels; and the beginning of his Duke teaching career. The detailed stories he includes come from copies of letters he wrote to his mother and brother. Two underlying streams in this memoir are Price's homosexuality and the beginning of his first novel, A Long and Happy Life, which he refers to as his "pregnant-girl story." Price's true friendship with an Oxford classmate, Michael Jordan, and his intimate relationship with Matyas, a British academic, reveal Price's personal growth during his studies. He outlines the universal writer's dilemma of working the "necessary job" to pay the bills while struggling to begin a writing career. Readers will identify with his journey and eventual satisfaction. Recommended for all academic collections.
A memoir of young adulthood from the acclaimed American novelist (English/Duke Univ.; Letter to Godchild: Concerning Faith, 2005, etc.). In 1955, the 22-year-old Price earned a Rhodes Scholarship and moved from his native North Carolina to Oxford, where he would become a writer. In his third autobiographical work, the author explores themes of belonging and identity amid the rich literary history of midcentury Britain. To a native Southerner-and a writer whose work has been almost entirely based in the South-the damp, dreary confines of Oxford were a stark transition, but one that was softened by the immediate and lasting friendships formed in those halls. It was an environment that proved robust in pleasure and opportunity and offered independence of spirit to a young man both grieving the death of his father and emerging as a sexual being. During these graduate years the author spent much time with such respected writers as Stephen Spender, David Cecil and W.H. Auden, all of whom left indelible intellectual impressions on the budding wordsmith as well as giving insight to the delicate humanity behind their lasting work-a parallel that extends to Price, whose debut novel, A Long and Happy Life, won the William Faulkner Award in 1962. Now in his mid 70s and bound to a wheelchair-the sad result of a malignant spinal tumor and subsequent surgeries-the author presents an unfettered collection of memories of his formative years and conveys that his Oxford experience provided the creative base from which he'd draw throughout his accomplished career. Though 50 years have passed, all of which Price has spent teaching at Duke, his talent has not abated, and this "memoir of high adult happiness"brims with spirited, intimate and poetic language.
“His beautiful books, his tremendous productivity, his spirituality and cheerfulness, his abiding friendships—all these generous traits and dynamic accomplishments have characterized Reynolds Price…. Ardent Spirits is … effervescent.”Edmund White, The New York Review of Books
“Ardent Spirits is Mr. Price’s third memoir [and] it is the best of this winning lot… Price’s warmth, vigor and good humor consistently shine through.”Dwight Garner, New York Times
“The most compelling book he’s published since Kate Vaiden in 1986. Price has always been one of our finest storytellers, but in Ardent Spirits he rises to new heights, delivering a compelling account of a profoundly exciting period in a young man’s life.”Charlotte Observer