CLEAR PICTURES: First Loves, First Guides by Reynolds Price
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CLEAR PICTURES: First Loves, First Guides

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"If I have an aim for whatever time is left to my faculties," Price (Good Hearts; Kate Vaiden; etc.) writes in this genially smooth, at times tremendously affecting clutch of autobiographical portraits, "it may be the oldest aim of all, to go on being a picture maker. From early childhood on I tried to make safe alternate worlds--elephants, movie stars, gleaming heroes, clean block-cities: handmade joy. Now I concentrate on offering scenes, people in rooms or God in hearts." The people in rooms Price recalls are, apart from himself, his most precious and closest: mother Elizabeth, father Will, aunt Ida, and assorted relatives and family intimates (many of them black). The God-in-hearts Price most clarifies is, of course, the one in his own: a boy who comes off naturally inclined to "honor" (one of Price's favorite words) and wonder at the abundance of Godly gifts (including sex, the guilt-flares and natural entertainment of masturbation). The worst chunk of childhood that Price can admit to is persecution by bullies during a spell of months in a new town. Teachers who showed him art's way, his father's terrible death, retrospective horror at the benignly accepted racial situation of his boyhood--these all are sonorously re-cast, and if the book has a drawback, it is that the prose here is beyond suave, almost psalm-like. Price does not stray past his family--we leave him when his father left him, in his early 20s--and this book is not so much confession as generous acts of respect. Musically lovely homages.

Pub Date: June 12th, 1989
ISBN: 689-12075-3
Publisher: Atheneum
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