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March 05 , 2011

Feasting the Heart

Fifty-two Commentaries for the Air


In the fall of 1993, Alice Winkler of National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" asked Reynolds Price to write a short story for a Christmas morning broadcast. This assignment would result in NPR's inviting Price to join its varied group of commentators on "All Things Considered." The laws of radio require a concision that has become a welcome new discipline for Price; and here are all the personal essays which he has broadcast since July 25, 1995.
Whether recounting events from his past, examining the details of his current experience as a writer, teacher, traveler, and general witness of the world, Price demonstrates in his direct prose that a writer can instantly connect with his audience. He discusses a few predictable topics – family, the poisonous mysteries of racial intolerance, and faith – but he also deals with new matters: capital punishment, Gone With the Wind, his adventures while navigating an immensely inaccessible America in a wheelchair; and he provides a memorable piece on childlessness. Throughout, Price never loses sight of the origin of either the word or the spirit of the essay – the French word connotes a try, an attempt – and each piece here is a well-formed, revealing, often amusing and refreshing foray into a moment unlike any we've encountered in other forms from him. We're unlikely to read more thought-provoking work from a commentator for a great time to come.
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