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A Whole New Life: An Illness and a Healing

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  311 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Reynolds Price has long been one of America's most acclaimed and accomplished men of letters -- the author of novels, stories, poems, essays, plays, and a memoir. In A Whole New Life, however, he steps from behind that roster of achievements to present us with a more personal story, a narrative as intimate and compelling as any work of the imagination.

In 1984, a large canc
ebook, 224 pages
Published April 10th 2000 by Scribner (first published 1994)
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Oct 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Whole New Life by Reynolds Price is the amazing tale of his intense four year struggle with a spinal cancer that left him paraplegic and subjected him to excruciating pain that he eventually learned to banish to the periphery of his consciousness through a mixture of hypnosis and biofeedback, not through the disorienting medications prescribed for him by chemically-oriented physicians.

Surgeries and radiation therapies undoubtedly saved Price's life but they rendered it all but intolerable. A r
Lauren Albert
Price's narrative of his painful and debilitating fight with spinal cancer is both brutally honest about his illness and suffering and the onset of his disabilities and lovely in his recognition of the love and care he receives from friends and relatives and his joy in his renewed ability to write. I'd recommend it to anyone but especially to anyone dealing with severe pain and catastrophic illness, their own or that of someone they love. I read it in a few hours--it had that strong a narrative ...more
Feb 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author died a few weeks ago , 26 years after he survived ( just barely ) spinal cancer , but was left a paraplegic in constant pain. He later taught my daughter at Duke and wrote songs with James Taylor .
And after it all he writes " I have yet to watch another life that has brought more pleasure to it's owner than mine has to me ".
And he was grateful for the blessings of his life.
Feb 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Price was diagnosed w/ spinal cord cancer in mid-1984. This book follows him through 3 surgeries and the radiation that left him a paraplegic. His attitude throughout the book, which chronicles a lot of pain and some inept medical treatment, is gratitude. The book ends in Dec. 1988 -- by that time, he had adjusted to his new life (which included becoming a more prolific writer . . . interesting).

Price had several encounters with Jesus during his illness and recovery -- encounters which were a li
May 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cancer-bookshelf
Novelist, poet, and playwright Reynolds Price was diagnosed with spinal cancer in 1984. His book about it chronicles four years of treatment as surgery and radiation leave him paraplegic, wheelchair bound and dealing with unrelenting pain.

His personal journey makes for compelling and sometimes harrowing reading. The lessons taken from the experience illustrate how critical illness isolates an individual inside a complex of resources either developed or undeveloped during a life of chance and cir
Naga Di Kandang
Dec 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As I deal with a potentially disabling illness myself, my therapist recommended this book to me. It is Price's memoir about his own disabling condition. The details are not the same, but it is a powerful and beautifully-written (Price is a major novelist) telling of the process of grieving, but also the process of coping, and lessons he learned in the processes. The lessons are not, of course, universally applicable -- coping differs between people, as well as does circumstance -- but the supert ...more
Jan 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just finished reading Reynolds Price's memoir (A Whole New Life) about dealing with cancer and his post-tumor survival. While I was in the hospital years ago I longed for memoirs like that of Price and was unable to find books that spoke to the experiences of facing cancer. It is ironic that as my health has stabilized over the past couple of years that I have found the very books I searched for while ill. Most books at the time were either written in a manner that was too Oprahesque, too celebr ...more
Dec 06, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I remember being moved by this story of the author's battle with severe illness and recovery. Price leads his readers through all of the physical and emotional upheaval that his illness caused as it advanced. In slightly more than a year, longer than his doctors had anticipated, he was irreversibly a paraplegic. Future surgeries left Price in such unimaginable pain that he resorted to biofeedback and hypnosis to help control it. His attempt to regain some of his former life are courageous.
Jan 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Interesting memoir about his struggle with spinal cancer. I read this after hearing a taped interview with Reynolds Price on NPR (he died recently--NOT of cancer), and was hooked when he spoke of a vision and some other spiritual experiences he'd had during this time.

It's not the best book I've read (sometimes the descriptions of mundane details about who's taking care of him read like a very long "Acknowledgements" section). However I am interested in personal transformation lately and this boo
Aug 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality, memoir
I enjoyed this book a lot. It's always nice to read memoirs written by people whose career is writing. He describes his journey and battle with spinal cancer from the first ignored symptoms to his life as a paraplegic. My only quibble is the name-dropping, but otherwise it's an eloquent account of an unexpected and unwanted turn and how he rebuilt a whole life, a new life. (From other reviews, I see that he died last year. The experiences he described took place in the 80's, so he did continue w ...more
Jun 05, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am not familiar with the other works of Reynolds Price else I might have been more invested in the author's life. This particular work documents his battle for life -- enduring many hardships and times of uncertainty with a seemingly never-ending supply of friends and family. My only criticism of the book is that the author never fully opens up emotionally without qualifications. It is very well written, and toward the end there are some very powerful life lessons that would be helpful to anyo ...more
Dec 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must-read for almost everyone, it is the true story of one man's
journey through hell and back. Diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his
spinal cord that seemed certain to kill him, he takes us with him on a
physical and emotional roller-coaster ride, tapping all the deepest wellsprings of the spirit, mind, and body.

Never heard of Reynolds Price, the author, before this. Now I am looking at his other books, as well.
Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing, beautiful, honest book about how his life changed and truly transformed after he was diagnosed with cancer. As a new cancer patient myself, I found his words hard at times, but ultimately wise and very comforting. His perspective about choosing life and finding the new life waiting for you is valuable for anyone going through a big life transformation. Simply wonderful and very rich experience to go on this journey with this author.
Debbie Maskus
A very poignant memoir about dealing with life's struggles. I am experiencing my own problems, and was very wary of reading this book, but Price handled the situation very well. He never demanded pity, but stood adamant against the loss of his legs and healthy life style. I found the use of hyponosis and biofeedback a wonderful way to control/manage pain.
What an inspiring book about a writer's journey back to physical and emotional health after a wrenching battle with spinal cancer. Though Reynolds Price lost much of what most of us take for granted (the ability to walk, the freedom to live alone, a life free from pain), his story resonates with gratitude and courage. A very good book.
Jun 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who have seen or experienced suffering in their lives; a memoir for the hopeful.
Recommended to Jennifer by: Wakefield
Shelves: mfa
Live. Seriously, live. You never know what cards you will pull from the dealer on the Blackjack of Life. If you want hope, read this memoir. Personally, it has reminded me of all the goodness that surrounds me, the goodness of friends, colleagues, family, and yes, that Spiritual Being that gifts creativity.
Margaret Harris
Sep 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Price writes his reflections on "beating" an unbeatable form of cancer. He relates a divine healing in words that will take your breath away, but he also deftly relates his "whole new life" -- alive, but crippled forever. It is in his whole new life, post-cancer, that he learns the secrets of living to the fullest.
Dec 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography
I loved this book and would like to buy it for myself and those I care about. It truly gives hope to those who believe their lives are over. Reynolds Price is an amazing man who is not afraid to open the door and share his own fears and weaknesses to help others, and this biography of his healing is candid, raw and moving as any of his novels.
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I read that Reynolds Price died last Thueursday, I grabbed this off my bookshelf to finally read...and I appreciated it on so many levels: the writerly craft, the poetry, the health and pain management narrative, and the gratitude of being able to work at what you love.
Nov 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: health, memoirsbios
I give this 4 stars (rather than 3) for the last chapter and some of the poems-particularly The Eel and An Afterlife. I would recommend this for anyone dealing with traumatic physical changes and healthcare providers.
Jul 22, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Bought this nonfiction book at St. John's Univ. bookstore because it was recommended by a professor. What I gained from it was a whole new understanding of ongoing pain. The author had an inoperable tumor wrapped around his spine. Laser technology finally became available and helped him.
April West
Dec 01, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone dealing with serious illness
An interesting view from inside a life reconstructed by cancer. Calming in a way, while also being a bit terrifying. It's amazing what we can bear and overcome, sometimes by holding on to our faith, sometimes by just muddling through.
Dawn Wells
Mar 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a remarkable book.
I enjoyed reading this memoir by a great author about a terrible trauma in his life.
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Had not read much of him - but this book was both thought-provoking and engaging. Will have to read both his other memoir writings and some fiction.
Susan Zinner
Used as background for an article; interesting first-person account of an author's experience with cancer. I found I a little tedious at times, however (as much as I like his fiction).
Apr 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
This is the story of the author's dealing with cancer, the resulting paralysis, the pain, and the healing. A wonderful book - so easy to read and understand. I will be sharing this one with friends.
May 22, 2010 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Apr 25, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read of a writer's dealing with his illness.
Graham Oliver
Aug 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
Somehow never boring, never apologetic, never wallowing in self-pity. An immensely insightful and beautiful tragedy.
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Reynolds Price was born in Macon, North Carolina in 1933. Educated at Duke University and, as a Rhodes Scholar, at Merton College, Oxford University. He taught at Duke since 1958 and was James B. Duke Professor of English.

His first short stories, and many later ones, are published in his Collected Stories. A Long and Happy Life was published in 1962 and won the William Faulkner Award for a best fi
More about Reynolds Price...

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