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Majors, Inman

Majors, Inman

PERSONAL: Male. Education: Vanderbilt University, B.A., University of Alabama, M.F.A., 1995.

ADDRESSES: Home—Tullahoma, TN. Office—Hollins University, English Department, P.O. Box 9677, Roanoke, VA 24020.

CAREER: Writer, novelist, poet, and educator. Hollins University, Roanoke, VA, assistant professor.

WRITINGS:

Swimming in Sky (novel), Southern Methodist University Press (Dallas, TX), 2000.

Wonderdog (novel), Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Contributor of poems to journals, including Antioch Review, Texas Review, Connecticut Review, Crazyhorse, and Laurel Review.

SIDELIGHTS: Novelist and English professor Inman Majors teaches fundamentals of writing poetry and fiction and creative writing at Hollins University. An accomplished author, Majors saw the publication of his first book within five years graduating with his M.F.A. from the University of Alabama. That book, Swimming in Sky, is an "accomplished first novel," commented Patrick Sullivan in Library Journal. It is a coming-of-age story about a young man who is "not so much on the verge of defining who he is but, rather, what he should be," observed Adrienne Martini in Metro Pulse.

Jason Sayer, twenty-five years old and recently graduated from Vanderbilt University, has returned from a trip to Australia to his home town of Knoxville, Tennessee, to seek familiar surroundings in which to determine what course his life should take next. The soul-searching trip to Australia did not turn out as well as he had hoped, and now seeing his childhood friends in Knoxville living dissolute, unfocused lives does not help his quest for meaning and direction. Aimless drifting between family members and friends and still recovering from the effects of a bad acid trip, Jason battles ennui and slackerdom as he realizes that while Australia might not have afforded him the means to find himself, Knoxville will not either. Complicating matters is the turmoil of his mother's difficult break-up from her long-term, live-in boyfriend. His old friends seem interested in little more than their next drug score, and his former girlfriends appear to have found answers to their life problems that still elude him. As he interacts with people whose solutions do not engage him, Jason takes lessons from their circumstances and develops a renewed sense of purpose wholly separate from those around him.

"Majors tells this engaging story with considerable insight and compassion," Sullivan stated. Jason is "a surprisingly engaging, if somewhat downtrodden, protagonist," remarked a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Martini commented that Swimming in Sky "is such a rich book that it's near impossible to figure out how to dive into defining it." The author's first novel is "filled with a distinctive voice, rare energy, and delicate touch—all of which set it apart from most first novels," Martini continued.

Wonderdog is a "savagely satirical" novel that portrays the downward spiral of Alabama attorney Dev Degraw. The son of the state's governor, Dev encountered failures early in life, when he was a bad child actor in an equally bad television program Bayou Dog. His life is controlled by his addiction to alcohol, which has also helped send his law career into a nosedive. Deep in debt, freshly divorced, and pursued by a vengeful ex-client, Dev interacts with his five-year-old daughter when he can and inhabits an alcohol-fogged world the rest of the time. Not even his connections to the governor's mansion can help Dev out of his predicament as he does his best to keep clear of his father's gubernatorial re-election campaign. A proposed cast reunion of Bayou Dog adds to the Dev's heap of misery.

Majors concedes that much of the novel's humor derives from Dev's self-destruction. "I think a lot of humor comes during the times in our lives when things aren't going that well," Majors observed in an interview with Adam Munroe in the Roanoke Times. "That gallows humor—I can either laugh or I can cry, but I gotta do something."

Booklist reviewer Jerry Eberle called Wonderdog "savagely satiric" and "a sharp and hilarious novel with hardly a sentimental moment." Majors "does a very good job of creating a character in a tailspin," commented a Publishers Weekly contributor.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 15, 2004, Jerry Eberle, review of Wonderdog, p. 390.

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2004, review of Wonderdog, p. 827.

Library Journal, January 1, 2001, Patrick Sullivan, review of Swimming in Sky, p. 156.

Publishers Weekly, November 20, 2000, review of Swimming in Sky, p. 48; October 11, 2004, review of Wonderdog, p. 55.

ONLINE

Hollins University Web site, http://www.hollins.edu/ (September 3, 2005), biography of Inman Majors.

Metro Pulse, http://www.metropulse.com/ (April 12, 2001), Adrienne Martini, "Majors and Carey Manipulate Their Voice to Provide Insight and Depth," review of Swimming in Sky.

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