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Clear Pictures: First Loves First Guides by…
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Clear Pictures: First Loves First Guides

by Reynolds Price

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great story, early memories growing up in South

Spanning the years from 1933 to 1954, Price accurately captures the spirit of a community recovering from the Depression, living through World War II and then facing the economic and social changes of the 1950s. In closely linked chapters focusing on individuals, Price describes with compassion and honesty the white and black men and women who shaped his youth. The cast includes his young, devoted parents; a loving aunt; his younger brother Bill; childhood friends and enemies and the teachers who fostered and encouraged his love of writing.
  christinejoseph | Nov 14, 2015 |
Near the end of this memoir of his childhood, Reynolds Price reminds us that "no human being sees much" -- which only heightens our need for a gifted author to create those "clear pictures" of the title. The young Reynolds struggled to find a way to paint them -- first through art, then music, then photography. Eventually -- in part because of the countless stories he'd listened to as a boy -- and because he was blessed with several remarkable teachers who encouraged his love of words -- but mostly because of his own passion and determination to give us those pictures -- he became a writer.

In this book, Price turns the illuminating light of his prose on major influences of his boyhood: parents, relatives, teachers, friends, heroes. Born in North Carolina in 1933, Reynolds was fortunate to spend part of each summer with his Aunt Ida, a woman fighting her own quiet battle against melancholia, and in her home he was given the blessed gift of solitude -- time in which a boy might explore, dream, create, read, draw, plan, stare at the wall, or sit for long periods beside his aunt on her front-porch swing, perhaps listening to others tell old family stories, but more often simply enjoying the quiet, a blessed gift for both aunt and nephew.

There was much for the boy to wonder about: his father's struggle with alcohol, his own confusion about the nature of God, and, all around him in the South, racism. How could people he respected and loved -- people he knew were decent and kind in every other way -- be so blind to the evil they were doing? The story of his father's friendship with a black man named Grant Terry is poignant and haunting.

As I read this book, there were times when I grew impatient with Price's telling of his story -- his need to examine every thread in the tapestry -- and I would start to skim or even skip over a section. But then I would remember that sometimes you just have to trust a writer -- and, after all, this was a writer I'd trusted for much of my adult life and that trust had always been richly rewarded -- so I decided I could do no less now, especially with this most personal of stories. Then I would imagine myself sitting in the swing beside Aunt Ida and falling into the rhythm of Reynolds' storytelling and often I would find myself -- without realizing it at first -- reading those glorious sentences out loud -- and I'd smile, because whenever that happens to me, it is a sign to me that the author is telling it straight, getting it right, making it clear.
  mollygrace | Aug 2, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0689120753, Hardcover)

A major new work by Reynolds Price, Clear Pictures is a memoir of childhood and youth in the rural South, a story of growing up, of discovering the intricate entanglements of family, love, solitude and faith. A gallery of powerful faces and lucid memories and a rich portrait of a world now mostly vanished into the past.((Atheneum--Nonfiction)

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:53 -0400)

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