Every once in a while, now, there is a special book and it was clearly evident in A Long and Happy Life (1962) that Reynolds Price was just beginning. His story, here per se, is not too well managed, but the special qualities of the first book remain: the expressive regional idiom of the Southern backwoods country which combines with a marvelous imagery; the sensuousness (a little of Lawrence) or what they call down there ""carnal knowledge""; the direct symbolism; but especially a powerful assertion of life and love which is the theme of this book. Price returns to the Mustians of Afton, Virginia; Rasacoke is younger than she was; and this one is all about her brother Milo, fifteen, almost a man, ""a single figure in a clear day alone."" He is ""running toward"" his life and before the day's end of the book he will be involved, at times circumstantially, with many others. With Lois, whose aunt runs the snake show at the fair and the whole history of her parentage; with Kate, the wife of the sheriff (this part does not really come off); with the search for his brother Rato and a great snake, the twenty foot Indian python called Death, etc. There are picaresque scenes, at the fair, in the woods, and one marvelous one in which they take Rato's ailing dog Phillips to the doctor who is on some sort of tonic himself. These have a bawdy, comic realism. And the end there is ""morning, clear, cloudless, the oldest gift."" Price is an eloquent celebrant of life and his book has a shining currency of youth and talent.