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Bobbie Ann Mason Biography

(1940– ), Nabokov's Garden: A Nature Guide to ‘Ada’

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Harriet Martineau Biography to John McTaggart (John McTaggart Ellis McTaggart) Biography

American novelist, short-story writer, and critic, born in Mayfield, Kentucky, educated at the University of Kentucky, the State University of New York at Binghamton, and the University of Connecticut. Mason describes her work as ‘Southern Gothic going to the supermarket’, a phrase by which she captures both her indebtedness to great Southern writers of the first half of the century, notably William Faulkner, and her considerable distance from them. She published two critical books, Nabokov's Garden: A Nature Guide to ‘Ada’ (1974), a study of Vladimir Nabokov's long novel, and The Girl Sleuth: A Feminist Guide to the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, and Their Sisters (1975), a title characteristic of her intellectual playfulness, but latterly her interests have turned towards creative writing. After several unsuccessful attempts at getting published she finally succeeded in placing her first story, ‘Offerings’, in the New Yorker in 1980. Her first volume of stories, Shiloh and Other Stories (1982; Ernest Hemingway Award), depicts life in rural Kentucky. Her first novel, In Country (1985), concerning a young woman whose father was killed in Vietnam, received considerable critical praise, as did Spence & Lila (1988), which focuses on an elderly woman facing treatment for cancer. Both novels explore family relationships, articulating the feelings of ordinary Kentucky people at times of crisis. Her third novel, Feather Crowns, appeared in 1993.

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