Brady, Catherine 1955-
BRADY, Catherine 1955-
PERSONAL: Born 1955. Education: University of Massachusetts, M.F.A. (creative writing).
CAREER: Short story writer. University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, assistant professor of creative writing.
AWARDS, HONORS: Zoetrope Short Fiction Prize, 2001, for "Curled in the Bed of Love"; Flannery O'Connor Award for short fiction, 2002, for Curled in the Bed of Love; Brenda Ueland Prose Prize.
The End of the Class War (stories), Calyx Books (Corvallis, OR), 1999.
Curled in the Bed of Love: Stories, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 2003.
Also contributor to literary journals, including Other Voices, Missouri Review, and Kenyon Review.
SIDELIGHTS: An award-winning short story writer, Catherine Brady has had her work published in numerous literary magazines. Her first collection, The End of the Class War, draws on her Irish immigrant roots to tell stories of long-suffering, working-class women struggling to hold their families together in a new, and often hostile, land. "The overwhelming need to escape despair may be depressing, but these stories light the family's churning characters in full motion—they are jubilant, indomitable," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Alcoholism, self-sacrifice, Catholic guilt, and the other familiar motifs of Irish-American fiction play their part in the lives of the Daley sisters, the central characters tying these stories together, and their various relatives and acquaintances. While many of these stories simply honor survival in the face of adversity, "it's when [Brady] allows her characters' anger to rise above a simmer that the collection gathers its force. For when her heroines rail against their circumstance … the author succeeds in breathing new life into well-worn archetypes," concluded Jenifer Berman in the New York Times Book Review.
Brady followed up with Curled in the Bed of Love: Stories, which won her the Flannery O'Connor Award for short fiction. In the award-winning title story, Brady imagines the lives of two gay men, one with HIV, who struggle with the fear of death and then with the curious dilemmas that come from the drugs that actually treat AIDS, replacing the certainty of impending death with the challenges of long-term, enervating treatment. Other stories involve equally intimate dilemmas, such as a woman's longing for the heroin addict who got her pregnant, even though she has found love and support with another man. In another tale a recovering alcoholic misses the thrill of hiding her addiction, the allure of a secret life, even though she recognizes all that it cost her. Other stories concern the guilt of betrayal, the struggle to overcome grief, and the pain of impotence.
According to a Kirkus Reviews contributor, Brady's "stories wrap all the old questions in new packaging: live, crisp prose and characters who genuinely seem to feel." Writing in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Deborah Prum felt that "Brady is an expert at creating fascinating characters and placing them in a myriad of interesting situations." Male and female, gay and straight, old and young, Brady's characters all struggle with the search for authenticity, sometimes embracing it, other times choosing the comforts of security or normality. "The grace of Brady's writing is only enhanced by the dialogue between the characters. At times it is surprisingly snappy. Surprising, perhaps, because their internal lives are described with such care, their desires and inner struggles mapped so astutely," commented Rebecca Tuch in the Women's Review of Books.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2003, review of Curled in the Bed of Love: Stories, p. 922.
Library Journal, August, 2003, Prudence Peiffer, review of Curled in the Bed of Love, p. 138.
New York Times Book Review, August 29, 1999, Jenifer Berman, review of The End of the Class War, p. 21.
Publishers Weekly, May 17, 1999, review of The End of the Class War, p. 58.
Virginia Quarterly Review, winter, 2004, Deborah Prum, review of Curled in the Bed of Love, p. 270.
Women's Review of Books, March, 2004, Rebecca Tuch, "Ways of Loving," p. 22.
University of San Francisco Web site, http://www.usfca.edu/ (August 27, 2004), "Catherine Brady."*