Bailey, Tom 1961(?)–
Bailey, Tom 1961(?)–
PERSONAL: Born c. 1961, in Greenwood, MS; married Sarah LeWine; children: three.
ADDRESSES: Home—Selinsgrove, PA. Office—Susquehanna University Writer's Institute, 514 University Ave., Selinsgrove, PA 17870-1164. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Cortland College, Cortland, NY, former instructor; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, instructor in expository writing program; University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, Iowa City, instructor; Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, PA, Winifred and Gustave Weber professor of the humanities, 1999–2001, Writer's Institute associate professor of English and creative writing.
AWARDS, HONORS: Pushcart Prize, for story "Snow Dreams"; Newhouse Award, John Gardner Foundation; fellowship in fiction, National Endowment for the Arts.
The Grace That Keeps This World, Mbira Press (Binghamton, NY), 1991, reprinted, Shaye Areheart Books (New York, NY), 2005.
A Short Story Writer's Companion, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2001.
Crow Man (short stories), Etruscan Press (Silver Spring, MD), 2003.
Contributor to literary journals, including Writer and DoubleTake, and to anthologies, including The Pushcart Prizes and New Stories from the South.
SIDELIGHTS: Tom Bailey's first novel, The Grace That Keeps This World, was inspired by a news story he heard on the radio while driving to work at Cortland College one winter morning. A father and son had gone out hunting together on the first day of buck season, and the father killed his son in an accidental shooting. After he realized his mistake, the father shot himself. Bailey wondered about the people involved in this tragedy for a year and a half, trying to get inside the father's mind, before he first put his thoughts on paper in the short story "Snow Dreams." Even though the story won the prestigious Pushcart Prize, Bailey was not done with it, and he later returned and expanded it into The Grace That Keeps This World.
The Grace That Keeps This World was described by a Publishers Weekly contributor as an "accomplished, moving first novel … about fathers and sons, tough love and compassion, the bonds of community and the solace of belief." The book examines the lives of the Hazen family: patriarch Gary Hazen, his wife, Susan, and two adult sons: twenty-four-year old Gary David and nineteen-year-old Kevin. The family lives in Lost Lake, a poor, isolated town in the Adirondack mountains of upstate New York, where Gary works as a manager for a forty-thousand-acre timber stand and fights to support his family on the meager salary this work provides. The abundant deer in the area, a cheap source of meat, makes Gary's struggle easier, until a new, stricter environmental conservation officer, Josephine Roy, appears. To make things worse, Josephine is, unbeknownst to Gary, sleeping with Gary David. Kevin, meanwhile, has chosen to attend college rather than work to help support the family, and has given up hunting altogether under the influence of his vegetarian girlfriend. The family's conflicts are chronicled by nineteen different narrators, including the major characters and other townspeople who know them, in the weeks leading up to the disastrous hunt. The author "does well in … encouraging the reader's emotional investment in the book's conclusion," Christine DeZelar-Tiedman noted in Library Journal. Booklist contributor Joanne Wilkinson, meanwhile, praised Bailey's writing style, commenting that he "displayes a consummate sense of craft…. Although the prose is spare, it yet captures powerful emotional undercurrents."
Bailey, who teaches creative writing, is also the author of A Short Story Writer's Companion, a three-part guide that introduces young writers to the principles involved in writing literary fiction. Part One discusses "Fictional Truth and Significant Detail," particularly the now-familiar "show, don't tell" advice. Part Two, "The Elements of the Short Story and Advice on Technique," contains brief explanations of point of view, metaphor, voice, and other story elements, as well as analyses of these elements in excerpts from writers including James Alan McPherson and William Faulkner. "For the most part, [Bailey's] discussions of short-story masters and classic short stories are cogent and sometimes exceptional," Robert Allen Papinchak noted in the Writer. In Part Three, "Notes on the Fiction Process," Bailey delves more deeply into his subject, which is illustrated by snapshots of his "Snow Dreams" manuscript at various points in the editing and publishing process.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August, 2005, Joanne Wilkinson, review of The Grace That Keeps This World, p. 1989.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2005, review of The Grace That Keeps This World, p. 749.
Library Journal, June 15, 2005, Barbara Hoffert, review of The Grace That Keeps This World, p. 48; September 1, 2005, Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, review of The Grace That Keeps This World, p. 127.
Publishers Weekly, August 1, 2005, review of The Grace That Keeps This World, p. 42; August 8, 2005, Natalie Danford, review of The Grace That Keeps This World, p. 105.
Writer, June, 2001, Robert Allen Papinchak, review of A Short Story Writer's Companion, p. 46.
Best Reviews, http://thebestreviews.com/ (September 15, 2005), Harriet Klausner, review of The Grace That Keeps This World.
Susquehanna University Writer's Institute Web site, http://www.susqu.edu/ (October 22, 2005), "Tom Bailey."