Cover image for The use of fire
The use of fire
Price, Reynolds, 1933-2011.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Atheneum ; Toronto : Collier Macmillan Canada ; New York : Maxwell Macmillan International, 1990.
Physical Description:
143 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3566.R54 U8 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A new collection of poetry from the author of Kate Vaiden and The Laws of Ice probes the creative, procreative temperament of fire, in a life-enhancing poetic vision.

Author Notes

Reynolds Price (February 1, 1933 - January 20, 2011), born Edward Reynolds Price in Macon, North Carolina, was an American poet, novelist, dramatist, essayist and James B. Duke Professor of English at Duke University. After graduating from Duke University in 1955, he won a Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford University.

Despite being living as a paraplegic after receiving radiation treatment for a spinal tumor since the mid-1980s, he produced approximately one book a year. His first novel, A Long and Happy Life (1962) won the William Faulkner Award. His other works include The Names and Faces of Heroes, Clear Pictures: First Loves, First Guides, A Whole New Life, and The Good Priest's Son. Kate Vaiden won the National Books Critics Circle Award. His plays have been produced on stage and on PBS's American Playhouse. He died due to complications of a heart attack on January 20, 2011 at the age of 77.

(Bowker Author Biography) Reynolds Price, the author of numerous volumes of fiction, poetry, memoir, plays, essays, & translation, has won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the William Faulkner Award, & the Levinson, Blumenthal, & Tietjans poetry awards. A member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters & a regular commentator on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered", he lives in Durham, North Carolina.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Eminent novelist Price's third volume of poetry follows patterns established in the first two collections, Vital Provisions [BKL F 15 83] and The Laws of Ice [BKL D 1 86]. His poems generally fall into the narrative vein: long lines supporting lush language, which in cumulative effect tell a story rather than simply offer a personal statement or observation. Price continues to draw on biblical situations as bases for many of his poems; and, too, the unfairness of pain and mortality retains its thematic importance. The air surrounding sexual congress plays an increasing role as subject matter, with particular emphasis on the Russian roulette nature of the AIDS virus. Unblinking in his self-appraisal, Price the poet nonetheless avoids self-conceit. ~--Brad Hooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

Like the great blue heron returning each year to its pond, Price ( New Music ) here makes a difficult personal journey in formidable weather--and only with great effort is he able to return to his peaceful starting point. The journey, told as a poetic chronicle, recounts the author's pain and internal conflicts stemming from the unexpected urgency of a medical condition that paralyzed his lower body in 1984. The tender, sometimes agonized collection recalls his days as a student at Oxford, travels in Europe, writing at home in North Carolina, family, friends and lovers past and present. As his inner turmoil dissipates, Price ``burns a silent / Praise of thanks to what or who has worked such peace.'' Most gracefully in sections I and III, his imagination ventures outward in hymns for friends, elegies and love poems, some inspired by Rilke or Holderlin. All are tributes to Price's clarity and his sensitivity to the nuances of nature; the poems celebrate the human conditions of love, death, struggle, joy and, ultimately, serenity. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Like John Updike and Joyce Carol Oates, Price is a successful novelist ( Tongues of Angels, LJ 4/1/90) who also writes a good deal of poetry. This is his third collection, a follow-up to The Laws of Ice ( LJ 12/86), and nearly half of it continues ``Days and Nights,'' a verse diary chronicling the author's ``private internal combat'' with cancer begun in the previous volume. He names his personal demon ``the eel'': ``It is one foot long, thick as a pencil/ And lives in the upper half of my spine.'' Fear and self-pity are laudably scarce, but then Price's writerly reserve, his penchant for adjectives and strict four-beat lines, tend to keep the subject matter at arm's length. Price's gifts are obvious, but one wonders whether the poem's descriptive density and rhetorical effects would seem less overwrought if given the larger field of play afforded by prose.-- Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., N.Y. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.