“If for me the broad subject of novels has been the action of time—its devastation and curious repair—the story has charted briefer stretches of concentrated feeling, and it always speaks an intimate language. Because of its single-minded intent and the narrow ground from which it looks, the story is more likely than the novel to issue straight from a writer’s home—the crow’s nest from which, at the rates of his body, he gauges the riptides between him and land. So the story shorter than, say, fifty pages is the prose narrator's nearest approach to music—duo, trio, quartet, serenade, dance or the deeper reaches of song: the lean lament or ballad of hunger, delight, revulsion or praise.”—Reynolds Price, “To the Reader,” in The Collected Stories (1994)
Reynolds Price—novelist, short-story writer, essayist, poet, playwright, translator, and inspiration to generations of students at Duke University—was born on this date in 1933 in North Carolina, the setting for much of his work. For the last 25 years preceding his death in 2011, he was paraplegic, the result of a malignant spinal tumor and its consequent surgeries. Yet the surgery did not still his pen—in fact, it only shifted his attention back to the short-story genre in which he had started.