img010This preview comes to us from Win Bassett. To register for the NYC Conference, now just four weeks away, go here.

Reynolds Price, from little old Macon, North Carolina, graduated from Duke University, attended Merton College at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship, traveled across Europe, befriended artists on the cusps of their fame, and landed a job as a professor back in Duke’s English Department by the time he turned 25. Four years later he published his first novel, A Long and Happy Life, which won the William Faulkner Foundation Award and sold over a million copies. Price published several more novels and taught creative writing, Milton, and the Gospels at Duke for 26 years before cancer wrapped around his spinal cord, paralyzed his lower body, and forever confined his great voice to emanate from below in a wheelchair.

In the face of this identity-changing event, Price learned to live his own long and happy life. Upon his death in January of 2011, Duke wrote

Price, who considered himself an “outlaw” Christian, wove his faith into his writings. His 2007 book “Letter to a Godchild,” for example, was a christening gift to his godson, intended as a brief guide for the child’s spiritual future. He also published two biblical translations: “A Palpable God” (1978) and “The Three Gospels” (1996).

Price also wrote numerous other fiction and nonfiction works through a lens of faith, and he penned countless poems that illuminate his doubt, struggles, joys, and blessings by the grace of God. In 2003 Price wrote A Whole New Life: An Illness and a Healing, which chronicles the years of his diagnoses, surgeries, falls, and acknowledging of God’s presence in his trials.

In this break-out session at the upcoming Mockingbird Conference (April 3-5, 2014), we’ll look at the God-given grace in identity-induced despair that Price portrays in his writings. From his memoirs as a Christian gay man in the rural South and at Oxford, to his poems that cover love, disease, and belief, to his fiction that captures easy, small-town faith and struggles, we’ll discuss Price’s own dealings of forced changes in identities and those of the characters in his works. No prerequisite reading necessary.