Dream of a House Remembers One Writer’s “Long and Happy Life”

Sunday, 12 November 2017, 12:35:51 AM. A new book about the home of writer Reynolds Price asks whether there are better ways to memorialize a genius.
A few weeks after Reynolds Price died in January of 2011, his friend Alex Harris took a camera into the writer’s house, where Price had lived since 1965. Harris, who has worked for decades as a photojournalist, began taking pictures of the home—the entire thing, from floor to ceiling, as if it were a crime scene. He looked out Price’s windows, up his stairs, and across his rooms, capturing photographs of the Kartikeya statue on the table and the bobblehead Jesus in the window sill, compact discs and wood carvings, crucifixes and coins, doodles and children’s drawings, the fossils by the fireplace, framed pin ups and leaning polaroids, paper angels hanging from strings, an empty wheelchair in the office. “Alone in Reynolds’s rooms,” Harris remembered, “I knew my job was to focus.” DREAM OF A HOUSE: THE PASSIONS AND PREOCCUPATIONS OF REYNOLDS PRICE By Alex Harris and Margaret SartorUniversity of North Carolina Press, 152 pp., $40 Harris returned over and over again, for weeks, until he had taken more than seven hundred pictures. “I worked at first like a photographic archivist,” he says, “with a responsibility to preserve and record Reynolds’s home as precisely and accurately as I could.” Some of these photographs were included in an exhibition in the Rubenstein Photography Gallery at Duke University, but more than sixty of them can be found in Dream of a House: The Passions and Preoccupations of Reynolds Price. Price, who taught at Duke for decades, was born in Macon, North...Read more
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