Hodgen, Christie 1974-
Hodgen, Christie 1974-
Born 1974; daughter of John (a poet) and Doreen Hodgen. married Bart Patenaude; children: Grace Taylor. Education: University of Virginia, received degree; Indiana University, M.F.A.; University of Missouri, Ph.D.
Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction, 2000, Ernest Hemingway Days Festival Short Fiction Prize, the Quarterly West Novella Prize, 2001, Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society Award for the Novella, 2001, Kentucky Arts Council Professional Assistance Award, 2001, and National Endowment for the Arts literature fellowship, 2002, all for fiction; Associated Writers Program Award for Short Fiction, 2001, Pushcart Prize, 2003, and Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award finalist, 2003, all for A Jeweler's Eye for Flaw: Stories.
A Jeweler's Eye for Flaw: Stories, University of Massachusetts Press (Amherst, MA), 2002.
Hello, I Must Be Going: A Novel, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor of stories to collections and anthologies, including New Stories from the South: The Year's Best, 2001, Algonquin Books, 2001; Best of the Fiction Workshops 1999, Scribner, 1999; and The Habit of Art: Best Stories from the Indiana University Fiction Workshop, Indiana University Press. Contributor of stories to periodicals, including the Bellingham Review, Texas Review, Greensboro Review, Meridian, and Notre Dame Review.
Christie Hodgen began her writing career when she was still in college, winning the prestigious Association of Writers and Writing Programs award for short fiction in 2001. The daughter of award-winning poet John Hodgen, she has won numerous other prizes as well, all of which celebrate her accomplishments as an emerging master of modern fiction. In her collection A Jeweler's Eye for Flaw: Stories, for example, Prairie Schooner critic Jenn McKee explained: "Hodgen demonstrates her own sharp sensitivity to human flaw, but through wit and whimsy and warmth, she manages to never once lose sight of the jewel, either." The book is "a wry, funny, touching, resonant work of fiction, a bright new voice in the culture, a striking addition to our current literature," Frederick Barthelme wrote in a review published on the University of Massachusetts Press Web site.
The stories in A Jeweler's Eye for Flaw, as the title suggests, concentrate on themes of social exile and isolation. The author, McKee stated, "tackles this topic … by way of her stories, deliberately highlighting those people many of us willfully choose not to see while also reminding us that we're all, to some degree, inevitably, heartbreakingly invisible to the world at large." Characters include James Woodfin, a high school student so isolated from his peers that when he wears a ghost costume to school after Halloween, no one bothers to comment or even notices—except the narrator, looking back at the young man's life after he commits suicide; Ephram, an African American man who chose life on the streets rather than college after being raised by a well-to-do liberal white family; and Agnes, the biological daughter of Ephram's white adoptive parents, who chronicles her own life as well as observing her brother's. "Sadness and skill pervade her tales," a Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote, "the fantastic is laced through with the realistic, and solid human feeling is always the goal."
In Hello, I Must Be Going: A Novel, which marks Hodgen's debut as a novelist, the author examines the lives of a dysfunctional family living in 1980s Massachusetts. The suicide of Vietnam veteran Richard Hawthorne leaves his young family reeling from shock. The two children, daughter Frankie and son Teddy, react to the loss of their father in quite different ways; while Teddy becomes increasingly emotional, Frankie withdraws into tight-lipped silence. Their mother, Gerry, tries to lose herself in her job as a waitress, in watching television, and in alcohol. The story, told from Frankie's point of view, traces the family's journey through life as each of them begins the slow process of healing from their loss. "Written with unexpected grace," a reviewer for Curled Up with a Good Book wrote, "this poignant family drama is defined by Frankie's spirit and compassion for her mother and brother." "Frankie," declared a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "is too smart and tough to remain isolated forever," and she both begins the process of healing herself while observing both the family's disintegration and its reintegration. "Sustained only by their determination to survive and battered by their shared loss," the Curled Up with a Good Book reviewer stated, "the family makes a remarkable journey from grief to hope." "Frankie's vulnerability and resilience," concluded the Publishers Weekly reviewer, "make this a moving novel."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 15, 2002, Deborah Donovan, review of A Jeweler's Eye for Flaw: Stories, p. 733.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2002, review of A Jeweler's Eye for Flaw, p. 1417; March 15, 2006, review of Hello, I Must Be Going: A Novel, p. 253.
Prairie Schooner, spring, 2005, Jenn McKee, review of A Jeweler's Eye for Flaw, p. 196.
Publishers Weekly, March 6, 2006, review of Hello, I Must Be Going, p. 46.
Worcester Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA), August 20, 2006, Richard Duckett, "Award-Winning Writing Is a Family Trait."
Curled Up with a Good Book, http://www.curledup.com/ (November 9, 2006), review of Hello, I Must Be Going.
Indiana University Web site,http://www.indiana.edu/ (November 9, 2006), brief biography of Christie Hodgen.
University of Massachusetts Press Web site, http://www.umass.edu/ (November 9, 2006), Frederick Barthelme, review of A Jeweler's Eye for Flaw.