Cook, K(enneth) L.
Cook, K(enneth) L.
PERSONAL: Born in Dumas, TX; married Charissa Menefee (a playwright); children: four. Education: West Texas State University (now West Texas A & M), B.A., 1984; Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, M.A., 1987; Warren Wilson College, M.F.A., 1991.
CAREER: Spalding University, Louisville, KY, M.F.A. program, fiction faculty member; Prescott College, Prescott, AZ, associate professor of creative writing and literature.
MEMBER: Association of Writers and Writing Programs.
AWARDS, HONORS: Grand prize, Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Arts Series, 2002; Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, 2004, for Last Call; Arizona Commission on the Arts fellowship; residency fellowships at MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and Blue Mountain Center; Tennessee Williams scholar, Sewanee Writers' Conference; Literary Arts Award, City of Charleston, SC.
Last Call (short stories), University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 2004.
The Girl from Charnelle (novel; sequel to Last Call), William Morrow (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor of fiction, essays, poetry, articles, and reviews to periodicals, including Threepenny Review, Shenandoah, Harvard Review, American Short Fiction, Post Road, Puerto del Sol, Arts and Letters, and Witness.
SIDELIGHTS: K. L. Cook grew up in Houston, Dallas, and Amarillo, Texas. His book Last Call is a collection of linked stories about three generations of the Tates, a West Texas family. The tales are driven by a series of unusual incidents: In one story, a daughter's elopement, a sobering holiday trip, a vicious attack by the family dog, and a lightning strike, all provoke a mother of five to abandon her children, while in another an oil rigger, inspired by sun-induced hallucinations, rescues his estranged wife, who doesn't appreciate his chivalry.
Library Journal critic Kevin Greczek felt that "although the stories are generally harsh and unforgiving, Cook transforms these attributes into a kind of grace." In reviewing Last Call for Booklist, Carol Haggas called it "a breathtakingly haunting and magical tapestry of human emotions." A Kirkus Reviews critic described Last Call as "a family's tragic trajectory viewed through the kaleidoscope of time in stories that make an immensely satisfying whole."
Cook told CA: "In graduate school, I became particularly fascinated by the form of linked stories, short story cycles, and novels-in-stories—books like Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, Ernest Hemingway's In Our Time, Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine, and Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. I wanted my book, Last Call, to work in that rich, and I think underrated, tradition.
"I searched for the thematic and character connections that would transform the book from a collection of marginally related stories into a cohesive whole in which the stories would maintain their integrity as individual pieces, but also, when read sequentially, have the narrative momentum and sense of resolution we expect from novels.
In my novel The Girl from Charnelle I return to the mythical Texas Panhandle town of Charnelle and the Tate family. Set in 1960, against the political backdrop of the presidential election, the novel focuses on the middle child, Laura (who figures prominently in Last Call), as she tries to make sense of her older sister's and mother's disappearances and becomes involved with one of her father's coworkers."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 1, 2004, Carol Haggas, review of Last Call, p. 307.
Express-News (San Antonio, TX), September 26, 2004, Nan Cuba, review of Last Call.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2004, review of Last Call, p. 821.
Library Journal, October 15, 2004, Kevin Creczek, review of Last Call, p. 58.
Tucson Weekly, December 30, 2004, Julie Madsen, review of Last Call.
K. L. Cook Home Page, http://www.klcook.net (March 8, 2005).