CULTURE: The Mind Roams Free

Reynolds Price was dying of cancer years ago. But he, and his writing, have endured and thrived.

Reynolds Price still has the letters people sent him when they thought he was about to die. Some move him to tears. The most formal and solemn give him, characteristically, the giggles. All of them fill him with triumph -- he is, after all, still around to read them.

A decade has passed since spinal cancer seemed sure to foreclose one of the most esteemed careers in contemporary American writing. At that time a physician cousin told the family that Price's prospects were "six months to paraplegia, six months to quadriplegia, six months to death." He endured multiple surgeries, steroids that...

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