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Mary Gordon (Mary Catherine Gordon) Biography

(1949– ), (Mary Catherine Gordon), Final Payments, The Company of Women, Men and Angels, The Other Side

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Ellen Gilchrist Biography to Grain

American novelist, born in Long Island, of Jewish and Roman Catholic heritage, educated at Barnard College and Syracuse University. Gordon is often classified as a writer who conflates the concerns of feminism and Catholicism, but since her first novel, Final Payments (1978), which deals with a young woman's mourning for her father, she has proved to be a writer in the modern mainstream of American fiction, who combines domestic realism, satire, parody, and lyrical observation in her well-planned novels. The Company of Women (1981), a story set in a fashionable commune, shows the possible influence of Mary McCarthy. Other novels of family life and social mores are Men and Angels (1985) and The Other Side (1989); short stories are collected in Temporary Shelter (1987). Among her finest works are the three novellas contained in The Rest of Life (1993), about women dealing with the vagaries of love; the title story examines the sensibility of an Italian migrant who spends ‘the rest of life’ dealing with the death of her lover, who committed suicide when he was 16 and she 15; in ‘Immaculate Man’ a social worker becomes the lover of a priest, which explores the conflict between flesh and church, a theme which continues in ‘Living at Home’, the story of an obsessive Italian reporter and his psychiatrist lover. Good Boys and Dead Girls (1991) is a collection of essays.

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