Delancey, Kiki 1959-
DeLANCEY, Kiki 1959-
PERSONAL: Born 1959, in Cambridge, OH; married; children. Education: B.A. (political science and English).
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Sarabande Books, 2234 Dundee Road, Suite 200, Louisville, KY 40205.
CAREER: Former executive vice president of Marietta Coal Company; writer and investment manager.
Coal Miner's Holiday (stories), Sarabande Books (Louisville, KY), 2002.
Contributor to literary magazines.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A novel and a collection of stories.
SIDELIGHTS: Kiki DeLancey grew up in Cambridge, Ohio, the fifth of six children in a coal-mining family. DeLancey worked for fifteen years in that industry, first as a permit clerk and, much later, as the executive vice president of a coal company. She contributed to literary magazines for years before completing her first short story collection, Coal Miner's Holiday.
The book's eighteen stories, seven of which were previously published, are set in coal-mining towns from West Virginia to Tennessee, and they take place in a broad range of time, from the Great Depression to present day. In one, a woman washes the bodies of her four small children as they die from a mysterious fever. In another, the town sheriff, who has quit smoking, is so angered by a friend who lights up in a no-smoking area that he shoots him in the knees.
A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that despite some occasional "didactic, expository" writing in DeLancey's collection, "in the strongest stories, there is an immense, riveting power in the author's oblique, repetitive sentences." The tales reflect the day-to-day realities of miners who struggle to survive across the Great Appalachian Coal Basin, including those who die early deaths from diseases such as black lung. Significantly, the "holiday" of the title refers to layoffs, common in communities where there is no assurance of steady work.
A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that DeLancey "gives a gritty, real, and sexually charged rendering of life in hardscrabble towns all along the Ohio River." These are towns in which teen girls do whatever is necessary to make their lives secure, and where marriage vows are easily broken.
William Ferguson commented in the New York Times Book Review that some of DeLancey's stories "are remarkable for their laconic approach to brutality." Among these is "I Loved the Squire," in which the simple-minded narrator, who has murdered a woman for her money, doesn't make the connection between what he has done and the job of the lawman he admires. Booklist's Carol Haggas called DeLancey "A natural talent, untrained and unfettered by convention."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Bloomsbury Review, July-August, 2002, Jeff Biggers, review of Coal Miner's Holiday.
Booklist, April 1, 2002, Carol Haggas, review of Coal Miner's Holiday, p. 1303.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2002, review of Coal Miner's Holiday, p. 526.
New York Times Book Review, July 14, 2002, William Ferguson, review of Coal Miner's Holiday, p. 20.
Publishers Weekly, April 22, 2002, review of Coal Miner's Holiday, p. 50.
Kiki DeLancey Home Page,http://www.kikidelancey.com (February 4, 2003).*