Special Issue 2017

Page 40

In Reynolds’ house By Alex Harris and Margaret Sartor


e got to know Reynolds Price around the time he published Kate Vaiden, his award-winning novel told from the point of view of a fifty-seven-year-old woman as she recuperates from cancer surgery and seeks to make peace with the secrets and imperatives of her life. That was in 1986, not long after Reynolds suffered his own bout with cancer and, because of the necessary treatments, became paralyzed. Though his collecting began much earlier, it was after Reynolds was confined to a wheelchair that his home gradually filled wallto-wall and floor-to-ceiling with art and objects, books, and photographs that he loved. Over the next twenty-five years, as we became closer to Reynolds and visited him often at his home, we marveled at his exuberant spirit and stunning literary output. We also watched him create a salon-like refuge in which every wall, bookshelf, and piece of furniture conveyed his passions and preoccupations, paid homage to his influences, and illuminated his interior life. Though Reynolds had millions of readers around the world, only those who visited him at his Durham home knew about the distinctive visual world he created there. Fewer still knew how his collections influenced his INSPIRATION: writing. Reynolds said that, for Classical him, writing began with a visubusts, religious al experience. Each short story, symbols, novel, play, or poem started with pop-culture a single scene––a brief, imagined icons, chubby film clip unspooling through

cherubs, and ethnic crafts all had a place in Reynolds Price’s home.

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