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Fiction
A wife fakes her death to escape the most dangerous man she knows: her husband. But cruel Martin Burney discovers his wife is alive, and stalks her in a small town. A young professor there is courting her, but one night she knows her compulsively neat husband has entered her house to rearrange towels in her bath and canned goods in her kitchen. He's found her. He's out there.
A love story, a mystery, and a small town in World War II. What if you want--and deserve--revenge? Miranda is bright, funny and pretty. She loves two men who want her as much as they hate each other. The war changes all three. Miranda has a happy life, and a secret. She keeps it until no one remembers. No one knows.
The world thinks Randal Eliot writes during his manic phases, but his wife Mary creates his famous books and supports their family. When Randal dies, no one will believe she is the genius. She marries a younger man, Paul, a Randal Eliot scholar. Paul cannot bear to believe Mary is the genius—she will destroy his life work and Randal Eliot’s reputation. He has killed before. He must kill again.
When Catherine Buckingham’s parents die, her young uncle, Thorn Wade, becomes her guardian and raises her as her mother wished, so Catherine becomes an adult who is not like the men—or women—of the world around her: she is a sexual creature we seldom encounter. With innocent joy Catherine explores her amorous feelings for the man who has raised her, while Thorn will not take any male initiative by word, look or action. They keep the memory of that summer like a promise they will someday fulfill. But Thorn must leave to fight in World War II. Catherine is told he is dead, and learns, painfully, how to be like women of the 40’s and 50’s. Yet Thorn is alive, and comes to find a Catherine who is finished, accomplished. How can she face the man who formed her for another life?
Three courageous young people, one a new white slave mistress, two captured black slaves--meet on South Carolina rice plantations during the summer of 1850. Black Joan and her husband Will have been raised free, then captured. Their civilized virtues make Joan valuable as a maid in the Big House, and Will soon becomes the black slave driver. Slavery's subtle poison corrupts the three industrious, warm-hearted young people, slave mistress as well as slaves. They have no choice; they survive, even triumph, just as capable young people trapped in a sick society would survive and triumph today.
In an echo of THE GOLDEN BOWL by Henry James, a rich father and daughter unknowingly marry two lovers. But in the world of this book, the father is a ruthless Iowa businessman who has earned his name of “Bonfire” by burning down his competitor’s warehouses. His beautiful young wife loves the wealthy life he gives her, but she cannot resist her new son-in-law, and he loves her still. Their risk is deadly. Bonfire has the money and the power to stop at nothing, even murder. His daughter is dear to him. When Bonfire and his daughter discover the truth, one of them will forgive, but the other will kill.
Mary Bryant grows up in a dirt-poor Nebraska family, hungry and unwanted. Her only friends are a next-door neighbor and her little half-sister Rhody, but she has to leave them and run away to Chicago to sleep under a hedge and work as a waitress. Gunther Meyer finds her, marries her, and she’s happy in her first real home with their new baby, Maria. But one day her world explodes: she discovers her marriage to Gunther was a sham. He has a rich young woman for a wife. Mary escapes to Florida with Maria, only to find that she is being pursued by Gunther, his friend Manuel, and Gunther’s new wife. They find her at Disney’s Epcot, and Manuel forces Mary to take her baby to Mexico with him, and begs her to marry him. But he keeps her a prisoner, hiding her—why? Soon the world’s reporters are on her track—what has she done?
Short stories
Publication list of award-winning short stories and a featured selection
Poetry
Publication list of award-winning poems and several featured poems
A New work of Fiction

Exerpt from
A NATURAL DEATH

FROM CHAPTER ONE:

The two children are still alive in the oven of an August afternoon. The three-year-old boy presses his blood-streaked hand against his head; the baby girl lies face down.

Heat sings with flies. Sweat glitters on the small black bodies; the children make no sound but panting breath. They are almost lost in the dimness where they lie.

Now a white man’s bald head and Roman nose come bobbing above the corn: Amzi King takes his path down to where the Santee River flashes sun back through the cornfield’s shift and shimmer. He’s no stranger here: his uncle’s old cabin is back in the pine grove. But he’s not at home in this place, either. He jams his feet along these ruts. He pulls his boot heels out of this dust.

Flies buzz and cluster on the hidden children. Amzi passes by. But his hound (sniffing dust, grass, old snake, yesterday’s rabbit, hot corn, river wet) scents man—alive and low and sharp and here! here! here! Wild yapping says Life!

Amzi steps into the corn, parts it, and crouches beside the children. Turning the sweat-slick baby over, he swears when he sees her maggoty face, whip-cut from forehead to chin. He climbs uphill to his cabin, talking to himself, the baby cradled against his linsey shirt. He kicks his cabin door open and lays Joan on a croker sack on the floor, builds and blows up his fire, swings a kettle over, and goes stamping back downhill.

Joan lies on Amzi’s floor, a naked and dimpled black child, her hands full of grass torn up in her agony, her half-open eyes full of nothing. Amzi’s bald head glistens in the sun as he climbs through his cornfield again, Will whimpering in his arms.

He sops a cloth and drips water in the children’s mouths. Will moans and takes the rag in his teeth to suck it. Amzi crawls on his knees from one child to the other. The boy gulps sugar water from a tin cup, then falls into a sleep like death.

Joan’s lips have come unstuck from her teeth; she sucks sweetness from the rag, eagerly taking life back if she can. Amzi washes her in a wooden trough, lathering soft-soap on her slashed face. Dried blood rinses from the little flat, broad nose and plump cheeks. He fuzzy hair cap comes clean; round arms and legs take on the shining blueness plums have. He finds some homespun to diaper her, wraps her in a blanket, and washes the sleeping boy.

There’s a rice plantation downstream. Slaves have dawdled and shuffled their way from dawn to afternoon in the rice swamps, then idled away the last of the day’s heat. Night is one of the few things they own. Amzi knows he will find them by a fire on the shore.
Some of these tall black slaves, crouched in smoke to keep off mosquitoes, are not quite naked. They have ground their corn ration; now they bake hoecake in the ashes. They hear the white man on the road before he sees them.

Amzi stops at dark’s edge. “Found two babies by my cabin. Boy’s ear was sliced off, and the girl’s cut bad about the face. Dyin, maybe. Won’t give em back to get cut up again,” he says, and turns around, goes back home.

The slaves squat quietly there, black bodies blown clear, then hidden, as the smoke veers with the night breeze. But later, much later, a black woman steals through the rustle of Amzi’s corn. She has a gourd in one hand, and she’s ready to run if Amzi moves there on his hearth in sight of the open door. “Jerusalem oak, Mass,” she whispers from the dark. “Put on whip cut. Creeper come out.”

Amzi sits still. The woman reaches in to lay the gourd on the floor, then stands twisting her hands. “Them ain’t like it if them find you got em, Mass,” she whispers. “That boy, him Mass Crandall boy—want em. And me-own gal-baby—“ She grins, but Amzi can feel her fear as sharp as he can smell her lashed back. “God fill teeth with lie.” So this is the brave one.

“You two want em?” Amzi snaps. “Boy’s ma and you? Take em then, or kill em. Don’t leave em in my corn.”

Scared, she’s almost gone out the door; only her eyes show in the dark, boring through the firelight to Amzi. Amzi has seen drowned babies floating in the Santee. He glares back at one of the mothers who left her child in his way, close to his water path by the river. He’d like to choke her. He wishes all South Carolina to hell. He sees black shadows eating his corn half-ripe, and sleeping by this hearth.

The doorway is empty now: she has read his body slumped there, and the hard fingers spread on his knees. She runs by the river, takes shadows along a Quarters street, and burrows in a filthy blanket somewhere. By the time a horn calls her out before dawn, Amzi’s cabin stands empty. Will and Joan lie in a hollow of hay behind Amzi’s wagon seat, rocking to the jolt of wheels on the rutted road north.



More reviews of
A NATURAL DEATH:

“This novel of the Carolinas in the pre-Civil War days is beautiful, terrible, heart-breaking—a powerful evocation ofwhat it meant to be black and a slave.”
--Publishers Weekly

“Admirable…Price’s portrayal of both sides of the slave society is persuasive and
saddening.”
--New York Times Book Review

“Frightening, absorbing, and enlightening reading.”
--Cleveland Press

“A brilliant first novel by poet Nancy Price, deserving of respect for unerring
detail, realistic treatment, and accurate reporting of rhythm and idiom. The
Carolina rice-growing country in the 1850’s becomes so real under Ms. Price’s hand that the smells and sounds remain long after the pages are closed…A sensitive and humane writer of merit.”
--Houston Post

“A rich first novel…that movingly dramatizes culture and life in the South Carolina of the 1840s…quite remarkable.”
--Kirkus

“The author is a poet; her first novel is a rich and realistic account of vividly recalled times past.”
--Chicago Tribune

“A rich first novel…that movingly dramatizes culture and life in the South Carolina of the 1840s…quite remarkable.”
--Kirkus

“Who is Nancy Price? Not since Mary Boykin Chestnut has there been such a biting voice, such an accurate eye.”
--Charlotte Observer

“From the standpoint of a historian, it is a novel I could not put down, for the detail is as fascinating as it was accurate and compelling.”
--Carl Degler

“I felt as though I had been living in the terrifying world of a South Carolina slave plantation…A fascinating novel: vivid, poetic, very moving.”
--Ann Petry, author of
THE STREET

“The novel draws the reader…we read as things happen, not as if they once happened…as if we are watching a film. This is a sensitive, sympathetic and historically accurate novel. And it is by far one of the best about the antebellum South.”
--Providence Journal News