Davis, Jennifer S. 1973-
Davis, Jennifer S. 1973-
Born October 10, 1973, in AL. Education: University of Montana, B.A. (with high honors), 1996; University of Alabama, M.F.A., 2001.
Writer and freelance editor. Mack-Fil School, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, English instructor, 1997-98; University of Miami, Miami, FL, English instructor, 2001-02; New College of Florida, instructor; Eastern Washington University, Cheney, assistant professor and editor of Willow Springs (literary journal), 2002-04; University of California, Los Angeles, online English instructor, 2003—; University of Colorado, Denver, assistant professor of fiction, 2006—, faculty editor of the Copper Nickel.
Associated Writing Programs, American Association of University Women; U.S. Authors' Guild.
Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Prague Summer Seminars fellow, 2001; Iowa Award for Short Fiction, 2002, for Her Kind of Want; Artist Trust/Washington State Arts Commission fellow, 2003-04; Djerassi residency fellow, 2004; Reynolds Price Short Fiction Award, Salem College for Women, 2004, for "Blue Moon."
Her Kind of Want (stories), University of Iowa Press (Iowa City, IA), 2002.
Our Former Lives in Art: Stories, Random House (New York, NY), 2007.
Work represented in anthologies, including This Is Not Chick Lit, edited by Elizabeth Merrick, Random House (New York, NY), 2006; contributor of short stories to Grand Street, Paris Review, Epoch, Georgia Review, One Story, Oxford American, Shenandoah, Indiana Review, Fiction, Hayden's Ferry Review, and Crab Orchard Review.
The southern upbringing of Alabama native Jennifer S. Davis proved to be an important influence on her chosen career as a writer of short fiction, as her first published collection of short stories, Her Kind of Want, follows the lives of a handful of southern women struggling to cope with life's challenges. Already a prolific short story writer, Davis earned the 2002 Iowa Award for Short Fiction for the collection.
A Publishers Weekly contributor described Davis's writing in Her Kind of Want as being "rich with intriguing musings and conceits," adding that the collection "demonstrates Davis's keen understanding of the sensibilities and longings of women whom life has cheated." In a review for Booklist, Joanne Wilkinson commented that "Davis' characters are riveting, her dialogue is colorful, her writing is exquisite." Wilkinson went on to call Her Kind of Want a "memorable debut." A Kirkus Reviews reviewer called Davis "talented and flexible."
Davis's second collection, Our Former Lives in Art: Stories, features nine stories, including the title story about a gifted boy who is obsessed with drawing detailed scenes of Civil War battles, which are so realistic that a therapist suggests he might have been a Confederate soldier in a past life. His father, whose hope was for a normal son with whom he could toss a football, is so frustrated that he actually considers killing the child. Opal is the protagonist of "Rapture," the story of a woman who has lived her life by the rules, but who breaks them with a stranger as a tornado bears down. "Blue Moon" is about an Elvis impersonator, and the young boy in "Detritus" tells how his mother found religion after his father left them and then cared for and saved a brain-damaged girl. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called this story "a lovely fable in which the themes of poverty, craziness and fundamentalist faith are depicted with clear-eyed dignity and a luminous grace."
"Pilgrimage in Georgia" finds a writer looking for authenticity moving to a small southern town, only to be tortured by the output of another writer who also lacks that quality. In "Giving up the Ghost," a couple who have lost a baby through miscarriage witness a car accident, and while the husband comforts and holds the hand of the victim, he doesn't want to share this intimacy with his wife. Other stories are "Ava Bean" and "Lovely Lily."
A Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded: "Davis creates magnificently conflicted characters with low-key stylistic panache." Booklist contributor Brad Hooper compared Davis's writing to that of southern short story writers Eudora Welty and Flannery O'Connor, noting that all three women share "a sense of relish of the absurdity running through the human condition."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 1, 2002, Joanne Wilkinson, review of Her Kind of Want, p. 55; April 1, 2007, Brad Hooper, review of Our Former Lives in Art: Stories, p. 27.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2002, review of Her Kind of Want, p. 1057; May 1, 2007, review of Our Former Lives in Art.
One Story, January 30, 2005, "Rapture," review and interview.
Publishers Weekly, September 9, 2002, review of Her Kind of Want, p. 41; April 16, 2007, review of Our Former Lives in Art.
Jennifer S. Davis Home Page,http://www.jennifersdavis.com (December 12, 2007).
One Story Blog,http://www.one-story.com/blog/ (July 10, 2007), Hannah Tinti, review of Our Former Lives in Art.