- A Sense of Place
- A Sense of Family
- Report from the Interior
- Gordon at Church
- Tarzan Meets the Department Head
- For Phyllis
- Rendezvous in the University Center and many others
by William Cloutman (SHS)
Thomas Price Caldwell, Jr., was born in Tutwiler, Mississippi, on June 10, 1940, to Helen Frances Clay and Thomas Price Caldwell. He was the oldest of six children.
Dr. Caldwell’s interest in literature began when he was in the eighth grade. He wrote a short story he thought was wonderful, but his teacher may have thought differently. His advice for future writers is to write for thirty minutes every day without anything interfering. Sooner or later, something will happen.
After graduating from high school in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Caldwell went to Davidson College, graduating in 1962. He continued his studies in graduate school at Tulane University where he earned an M.A. and his Ph.D. He married Alice Carol Huggins on June 4, 1966, and together they had two children, Michael and Delia. Later, he did post-graduate work at Boston University, Princeton, and UC Berkeley and taught for three years each at Wofford College and Furman University. He became a professor and lecturer at Mississippi State University in 1972
For more than twenty years, Caldwell was a professor in the English Department at Mississippi State University, where he established the graduate creative writing program. He taught courses in contemporary poetry, writing for engineers, descriptive English grammar, introduction to literature, and Form and Theory of Poetry and Form and Theory of Fiction as well as The Practice of Poetry and The Practice of Fiction.
Dr. Caldwell held administrative positions within the Southern Literary Festival organization. He was the president for the 1985-86 term and for the 1996-97 term. He was vice president for the 1984-85 term and for the 1995-96 term. He served as president for the 1997 Southern Literary Festival. He established and was the director for the Creative Writing Program at Mississippi State University. Price Caldwell’s work has been published many times. Some of his short stories are Generosity, A Sense of Family, and A Sense of Place. He has written poems such as For Phyllis and Rendezvous in the University Center.
He won second prize for Gordon at Church in the national fiction contest at Kansas Newman College in Wichita, Kansas. Another story, Tarzan Meets the Department Head, was selected for reprint in Best American Short Stories in 1977. His works have been published in Image, Georgia Review, Mississippi Review, New Orleans Review, and Southern Review and Mississippi Writers: Reflections of Childhood and Youth.
During the years 1988-9, 1994-5, and 1998-2000, Caldwell worked as a Visiting Professor of English at Meisei University in Tokyo, Japan. In 2000 he became a regular Professor of International Communications and continued there until 2010, when he retired. He then spent several winters in Thailand before returning permanently to Starkville, Mississippi. He died February 25, 2015, of leukemia at the age of 74.
An endowment was established by his wife, Alice Carol, that brings authors, poets, and other literary professionals to speak and read at Mississippi State University. The Price Caldwell Visiting Writers Series has brought such authors as Tina Barr, Nick White, and Lee Martin in the years following Caldwell’s death.
Report from the Interior: An Analysis of Price Caldwell’s Short Story
by William Cloutman (SHS)
Report From the Interior by Price Caldwell is a short story written basically to entertain. It takes the reader to a different place, the interior of the country. The narrator shares the cares and problems of a different time, yet the reader will realize that somehow it is a part of his own life as well. The “reporter” is the father of a family that is preparing to weather a big storm that will be coming soon. He is constantly trying to get his home and family prepared for fending off destruction.
The tone is as if someone were having a restless dream. The person “reporting” is always having to deal with problems that arise constantly. There is a very strong urgency to get everything in good condition before “the strong winds come.” The reader may understand this situation as similar to his own life, but delight in the fact that they are not actually his problems.
Thunder and wind symbolize the coming of destruction for the “reporter” and his family. They also symbolize problems in our own lives. To the “reporter,” his problems are real , but somehow he is always able to make time for his spouse and children. Their well-being is what he is working so hard for anyway. The young children ask questions, and the father attempts to answer them. Sometimes their comments are amusing. The title Report from the Interior could be interpreted as a dream someone has that practically terrorizes him during his sleep.
There is a little bit of truth and a little bit of fiction in this story. Caldwell admits that he wrote the story just after he and his wife Alice Carol and two children moved to Starkville in 1972, and his children were very young.
A Sense of Place: An Analysis of Price Caldwell’s Short Story
by William Cloutman (SHS)
A Sense of Place by Price Caldwell is a short story that takes place in Carny, Mississippi. This small southern town gives Bo, the main character, a proclivity to learn about other places around the world and about the moon. Bo gets all his information about far away places from the World Atlas. Bo is a boy that eventually grows into a man and finds his place among his friends. Gip is Bo’s best friend . He was born in Carny and helps Bo figure out when the moon will return to view. Dr. Thompson tries to help Bo find Gip at the time when Bo had lost contact with him.
The central conflict in the story occurs when Bo has lost contact with Gip, his best friend, and cannot find him or when the moon will come into view again. At about the same time when Bo finds the moon again ,he also comes into contact with his friend Gip. This restores a sense of place in Bo’s life. The moon’s appearance symbolizes where Bo’s friendship and a sense of place is located. When the moon disappears, he is desperately trying to find it and his best friend. When Gip came to see Bo, the moon soon reappeared. Bo placed a great deal of importance in place. He was in his right place when he was able to talk with his best friend, Gip. Bo was always thinking about different places, and it was important for him to be in the right place. I suppose that is the reason for the title, A Sense of Place.
- Caldwell, Price. “Report From the Interior” New Orleans Review. Vol. 5 No. 3 (1977): 204-208.
- Caldwell, Price. “A Sense of Place” Georgia Review. Vol. 25 (1971): 222-231.
- “Second Mindscape program is set:” Pontotoc Progress. September 24, 1987.
- The Best American Short Stories. Edited by Martha Foley. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1977.
- Snow, Allen. “The writer’s role in society” Mississippi State Alumnus: Summer, 1997, website. Online. Mississippi State University Library Internet. 13 Nov. 1997.