Reading Matters

William Price Fox more colorful than today’s novelists

Maybe it’s my imagination, but I think writers of fiction and reporters of the news were once more colorful than they are today.

William Price Fox’s obituary in the New York Times last week recalled the scrappy South Carolinian, retired USC professor, who wrote the novels “Dr. Golf,” “Dixiana Moon,” “Moonshine Light, Moonshine Bright,” most of which deal with rural South mischief.

Fox, who was 89 when he died on April 19 at his home in Washington, was also a great friend of Kurt Vonnegut’s, and his writing attracted the admiration of both John Updike and Bruce Springsteen.

His later works included two non-fiction books, “Lunatic Wind: Survivng the Story of he Century,” about Hurricane Hugo, and “Satchel Paige’s America,” based on interviews with the legendary pitcher.

But here’s what I mean by “colorful.”

The late J.A.C. Dunn wrote for the Observer in the 1960s and early 70s. I never met him, but people claim he never took a note, that he had perfect recall for what people said.

In 1967, Fox was visiting Charlotte, and Dunn was dispatched to interview him. They met over a beer, and here’s Dunn’s description of the novelist.

William Price Fox is a small, engagingly shaggy-looking man. His hair hangs over his forehead like a brown waterfall arrested in mid-drop. Horn-rimmed spectacles perch nervously on his large nose. Long wrinkles fan out from his eyes, and he laughs a lot. He was wearing a strange tie -- orange, green, brown, maroon, one thing and another, a sort of super-tie embodying all the ties in the world. You wondered if he bothered to own any others.