The Collected Stories

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

THE COLLECTED STORIES brings together fifty short stories Reynolds Price has written over five decades, from “Michael Egerton” in 1954 to “An Evening Meal” in 1992. Half of the stories are reprinted from Price’s two earlier collections, THE NAMES AND FACES OF HEROES (1963) and PERMANENT ERRORS (1970). And most of these stories have actually seen print before, in ESQUIRE, HARPER’S, PLAYBOY, THE SOUTHERN REVIEW, THE NEW YORKER, and a dozen other major vehicles for short fiction.

The range of Price’s stories is remarkable: stories of European travel, of Christmas on the West Bank in Israel, of a visit to an American Indian reservation. But the best of Price’s stories tap his family history, the rich Southern roots of his own North Carolina childhood. Like Eudora Welty—and PERMANENT ERRORS was dedicated to her—Price has found within his family history a well from which he can draw endlessly for his fiction.

Often, in fact, he has disguised his characters very little, and they are “Reynolds” as a boy, and “Buck Price” his father; various aunts and uncles and grandparents on several sides of his family; and the black families which have worked for these relatives for generations. He knows these lives so well that he can render them in rich detail, and his mainly rural Southern characters come alive through the intimate detail Price gives so effortlessly—of food and flowers, gossip and language.

If Reynolds...

(The entire section is 436 words.)