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Ron Hansen Biography

(1947– ), Desperadoes, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Marietta in Ecstasy, Nebraska

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Bernard Gutteridge Biography to Hartshill Warwickshire

American novelist and short-story writer, born in Omaha, Nebraska, educated at Creighton University, the University of Iowa, and Stanford University. Among other academic posts he was appointed Associate Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Though he is not a prolific writer, Hansen's work depends upon a sustained immersion in the minute particularities of time and place; his books convey that history is not only strange but is also opaque, resistant to our attempts to understand it through generalization. Desperadoes (1979) enacts this theme by presenting the story of the Dalton gang as told in 1937 by Emmett Dalton who is both a real-estate broker and a scriptwriter for Western movies; his account is based on the immediacy of recollection and the distorting waves of his contemporary preoccupations. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (1983) dispenses with the first-person voice and introduces the literally fantastic nature of the James family's life and belief structure; the book's rich and extravagant metaphors, which act to slow the pace, evoke a world coterminous with their life. His novel Marietta in Ecstasy (1991) deals with the enigmatic nature of spiritual revelation as experienced by a young postulant in 1906. Nebraska (1992) is his highly acclaimed collection of short stories.

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