Blue Calhoun Critical Essays

Reynolds Price

Blue Calhoun

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Blue Calhoun is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, who one day saw such condemnation and pain in his daughter’s face that he put his life in order. He stopped drinking and taking pills, stopped carousing and causing his family anguish, and settled down into “long years of life.” And, as he begins the tale, his is an ordinary and happy life; he has a good job to support his wife and child, who both adore him; a mother, who is both wise and helpful; and a childhood home in Raleigh, North Carolina that gives him a perfect sense of place. One day, Rita Absher, an old friend from school, brings her daughter to buy an autoharp in the music store where he works. This angelic sixteen-year-old sings “Abide With Me,” and Blue is smitten. He throws over everything—wife, daughter, home, job—for this girl, who in spite of the abuse and poverty of her home life, is somehow smart enough and moral enough to send him back to his family. Unfortunately, in small Southern cities, entanglements don’t come unraveled so easily, and Blue and Luna are thrown together again and again.

The results are fateful for all concerned, even Blue’s unborn granddaughter. This year in his life, he believes, has brought havoc into the lives of everyone he loves, and his last chance at redemption is from the child he must rescue from an all-too-familiar harm.

BLUE CALHOUN is the latest in a distinguished line of novels from Reynolds Price. Once again, he has...

(The entire section is 480 words.)