R.I.P. Reynolds Price, 1933-2011

Remembering Reynolds Price tonight, I recall one of his best novels, ROXANNA SLADE.  I am drawn to it. 

Roxanna Slade goes through a 5 year long depression in the 1950s in rural northeastern North Carolina and the only medical options available to her are electric shock and other treatments she finds deplorable.  So one day when she’s riding with her husband in his pick up truck to town, she opens the door when he rounds a curve at 50 miles an hour and jumps out.  She cracks her skull open on the pavement, breaks countless bones and is taken to her sister Leela’s house to recover. 

The following excerpt from ROXANNA SLADE is one of the most enlightening views of recovering from depression I’ve ever heard.  Roxanna is thinking now:

“As I began to swim up to consciousness, whenever Leela and I were alone, she’d make brief references to what she’d read about the ’shock’ and the good results it was having - insulin shock for dementia praecox, electro-shock convulsive for
melancholia.  By the time I could take in more than two spoken sentences and nod in response, Leela was saying “You invented your own shock treatment.  I know it in my bones.  Things are very changed now.” 

And so they were.   

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