Better a Dinner of Herbs

Byron Herbert Reece

Foreword by Hugh Ruppersburg

Title Details

Pages: 224

Trim size: 5.500in x 8.000in



Pub Date: 12/01/1992

ISBN: 9-780-8203-1489-1

List Price: $29.95

Related Subjects

FICTION / Literary

Better a Dinner of Herbs

Byron Herbert Reece

Foreword by Hugh Ruppersburg

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  • Description
  • Reviews

First published in 1950, Better a Dinner of Herbs is a compellingly dramatic tale of twisted, often violent human relationships. Taking its title from a biblical passage dealing with the power of love and hate within a household, the novel counterbalances its grim narrative with a poetic prose that evokes a reverence for the rhythm of the seasons and the continuity of life.

Byron Herbert Reece situates the story in the isolated hills of the agrarian South where he spent most of his life, but it could have occurred in any rural setting at any time. An unmarried girl dies in childbirth. Her brother, swearing revenge on the father of the child, sells the family farm and turns toward the open world with his nephew. In search of a wife and a different livelihood, he chances to encounter his enemy. An intentional act of brutality symbolizes an end to his passion and summons him again away from all that he cherishes.

Born at the foot of Blood Mountain in north Georgia and reared in the isolated mountain area near Blairsville, Byron Herbert Reece (1917-1958) was the author of four volumes of poetry and two novels that are tied deeply to the spirit and traditions of Appalachia. Journalist Bill Shipp has called Reece "perhaps the greatest balladeer of the Appalachians." His first volume of poems was published in 1945 to wide critical acclaim, and the publication of his remaining work brought him recognition far beyond north Georgia.

There are lyric passages in Better a Dinner of Herbs, but its mood stems rather from that of the ballad, indigenous to Mr. Reece's country and the substance of his earlier book of poems. Here is none of the self-consciousness that is commonly associated with the 'primitive' in contemporary writing or art. The author's understanding and acceptance of his characters and the directness of his portrayal give them worth in their own right. Better a Dinner of Herbs is an unusual novel, sincere and oddly stirring.

New York Herald Tribune

Mr. Reece weaves well. With simplicity, honesty, and an almost biblical reliance on the repeated image, he balances emotion with desperate event. The result is powerful and often beautiful.

Saturday Review

About the Author/Editor

BYRON HERBERT REECE was a lifelong resident of the north Georgia mountains. An author whose work is closely tied to the spirit and traditions of Appalachia, he wrote two novels: The Hawk and the Sun and Better a Dinner of Herbs (Georgia). In addition, Reece was the author of four highly acclaimed volumes of poetry.