cover image Feasting the Heart: Fifty-Two Commentaries for the Air

Feasting the Heart: Fifty-Two Commentaries for the Air

Reynolds Price. Scribner Book Company, $22 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-0369-2

In 1995, NPR's All Things Considered commissioned acclaimed Southern novelist Price (Kate Vaiden; Roxanna Slade; etc.) to contribute occasional editorial commentaries on any subject he chose. The results, along with an earlier Christmas story written for NPR's Morning Edition, are collected here, voicing Price's thoughts on topics ranging from the movies to the writing life to family relations. Recurring themes that he explores with particularly compelling insight include the cultural and emotional blessings of a small-town Southern boyhood, the difficultiesDand surprising advantagesDof being physically disabled (Price has been confined to a wheelchair for about 15 years after a bout with spinal cancer), and the richness of his experiences as both a student and a teacher. Price displays an impressive talent for using few words to convey a great deal, as he does in ""The Last Great Weeper,"" where, musing on his tendency to cry at unexpected moments, he concludes that he is moved to tears by seeing ""our kind at the highest pitch of skill and luck... those moments where somebody gets something right. Exactly right, the rarest event."" Although ranging in tone from elegiac to angry, these pieces mostly evince a thoughtful optimism, chronicling and celebrating the small but significant pleasures of everyday life. While undoubtedly appealing to fans of Price's NPR broadcasts, this collection will also be of value to admirers of his fiction, as it offers a panoramic glimpse of the writer's mind at work. Price's readers and NPR listenersDeven if they heard these commentaries on the airDwill find it a delight. The brevity and broad range of these pieces also makes this an ideal introduction to this important novelist for readers who do not know his work. Author tour. (Oct.)