Spring 1989 • Vol. XI No. 2 Nonfiction |

A Normal, All but Fatal, Childhood

A close watch on any normal infant is likely to see that its prime emotions are hunger and fear—fear of hunger, pain and whatever nameless dreads prowl the sleep behind those jittering eyelids. It's later, after six months generally, that children develop the private gallery of frights which are as personal as our genetic codes and are likely to remain constant, though augmented, through a lifetime. None of my own earliest memories is of fear. My first quick memory, at six months old, is of the delight I took, sunbathing in the yard while the pet goat Topsy attacked my diaper. I'd sat on her back several times already and so was happy in her attention. All my other flash memories, to the age of three, are of pleasant or at least peaceful occasions—Christmas morning and a loaded tree, my ancient grandmother sick in bed, me swimming in the creek, the close attentions of my parents and kin. There may be buried bad memories from those years. For most of my first two years, I

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A significant voice in modern Southern fiction, Reynolds Price (1933-2011) was an American poet, novelist, dramatist, and essayist. He was the James B. Duke Professor of English at Duke University and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is well known for his first novel, A Long and Happy Life (1962) as well as his 1986 novel, Kate Vaiden, and his memoir, Clear Pictures (1989).

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Long Night

By Reynolds Price

A close watch on any normal infant is likely to see that its prime emotions are hunger and fear—fear of hunger, pain and whatever nameless dreads prowl the sleep behind […]

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