Bakken, Kerry Neville 1972-
Bakken, Kerry Neville 1972-
Born 1972; married Christopher Bakken (a poet); children: two. Education: Colgate University, B.A.; University of Houston, Ph.D.
Home—Meadville, PA. Office—Department of English, Allegheny College, Meadville, PA 16335 E-mail—[email protected]
Writer, educator. Allegheny College, Meadville, PA, assistant professor.
Associated Writing Program's Intro Journals Award for Fiction; Henfield/ Transatlantic Review Fellowship in Fiction; silver medalist, Independent Publisher (IPPY) Book Awards; bronze winner, Foreword Book of the Year Awards; G.S. Charat Shandra Prize for Fiction, 2005, and Best Books National Book Award in the fiction/short fiction category, USABookNews.com, 2006, both for Necessary Lies.
Necessary Lies, BkMk Press (Kansas City, MO), 2006.
Contributor of a story to the anthology Shorewords: A Collection of American Women's Coastal Writings. Author of Web log, Necessary Lies. Contributor of short stories to magazines, including Glimmer Train, Story Quarterly, Texas Review, and Hampton Shorts. Editor, French Creek: The Journal of Undergraduate Environmental Writing and Art.
Kerry Neville Bakken's 2006 debut collection of eight short stories, Necessary Lies, won the Chandra Prize for Short Fiction. Bakken's narrators find themselves dealing with unexpected situations, from Mike in the title story, "Necessary Lies," who must deal with a suicidal student, to Sarah in "The Effects of Light," who is accompanying her estranged husband to Greece to collect the body of his sister, who has committed suicide, and discovers that her guide book gives her no directions in this dismal adventure. In an interview for BkMk Press Web site, Bakken explained this aspect of her writing: "I tend to write about those moments when characters are forced to come up with new ways or more complex ways of responding to the world, to lovers or friends or family. … I have faith in my characters, in their abilities to find mercy and grace in unexpected ways." Bakken further noted of her characters, "I'm not sure it's the lies we tell others that are necessary; rather it's the lies we tell ourselves."
For Booklist contributor Emily Cook, it is these lies that connect the stories in this collection. "Bakken writes with a sure hand" and occasional "clarity and literary precision," observed Cook, who also, however, complained of "frumpy and drowsy" characters. A Publishers Weekly critic had higher praise for Necessary Lies, noting the emphasis in the collection on life's beginnings, ends, and the messiness of both as strands that unite the tales. The same reviewer concluded, "Bakken's quiet exploration of life's bookends makes for an auspicious first outing."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July 1, 2006, Emily Cook, review of Necessary Lies, p. 27.
Publishers Weekly, April 24, 2006, review of Necessary Lies, p. 34.
Allegheny College Department of English Web site,http://webpub.allegheny.edu/ (July 1, 2007), "Kerry Bakken."
BkMk Press Web site,http://www.umkc.edu/bkmk/ (July 1, 2007), "An Interview with Kerry Neville Bakken."
Colgate Maroon News,http://media.www.maroonnews. com/ (November 9, 2006), Kate Stichnoth, "Alumna Returns to Showcase Acclaimed Book."
Marist College Summer Writing Institute Web site,http://www.marist.edu/ (July 1, 2007), "The Faculty."
Oberlin Review,http://www.oberlin.edu/ (October 14, 2005), Heather Jones, "Bakkens Come Better in Twos."