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Barry Hannah Biography

(1942– ), Airships, Geronimo Rex, Nightwatchmen, Ray, Power and Light, Hey Jack!, Never Die

characters civil fiction world

American novelist and short-story writer, born and brought up in Clinton, Mississippi, educated at the University of Alabama. Hannah presents a world as dislocated and violent as William Faulkner's, but without Faulkner's sustaining metaphysical beliefs. Lacking a sense of continuity, his characters live in an abrupt, staccato world over which they have little or no control. Hannah displays no reverence for the past, though his characters are often haunted by vivid fantasies of Civil War heroes whose exploits are completely at variance with their own horrified experiences of combat. Airships (1978), his most famous book, possesses a formidable range: alongside many grotesque vignettes of contemporary life, there are stories about the Civil War and about the future, all conveying the same blind atavistic impulses and desperate acts of honour which govern the behaviour of all his characters. This is the South as a kind of terminal fiction, doomed to repeat a series of disconnected routines entirely drained of meaning. Hannah's other books include Geronimo Rex (1972), Nightwatchmen (1973), Ray (1980), Power and Light (1983), Hey Jack! (1987), and Never Die (1991). He remains one of the most vibrant and compelling figures in contemporary fiction.

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