Mason, Bobbie Ann 1940–
Mason, Bobbie Ann 1940–
Mason, Bobbie Ann 1940–
Born May 1, 1940, in Mayfield, KY; daughter of Wilburn A. (a dairy farmer) and Christianna Mason; married Roger B. Rawlings (a magazine editor and writer), April 12, 1969. Education: University of Kentucky, B.A., 1962; State University of New York at Binghamton, M.A., 1966; University of Connecticut, Ph.D., 1972.
Home—Lexington, KY. Office—University of Kentucky, Department of English, 1255 Patterson Office Tower, Lexington, KY 40506. Agent—Amanda Urban, International Creative Management, 825 8th Ave., New York, NY 10019. E-mail—[email protected]
Mayfield Messenger, Mayfield, KY, writer, 1960; Ideal Publishing Co., New York, NY, writer for magazines, including Movie Stars, Movie Life, and T.V. Star Parade, 1962-63; Mansfield State College, Mans- field, PA, assistant professor of English, 1972-79; University of Kentucky, Lexington, visiting writer-in-residence, 2001—.
National Book Critics Circle Award nomination, American Book Award nomination, PEN-Faulkner Award for fiction nomination, and Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award, all 1983, all for Shiloh and Other Stories; National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, 1983; Pennsylvania Arts Council grant, 1983; Guggenheim fellowship, 1984; American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award, 1984; National Book Critics Circle Award nomination and Southern Book Award, both 1994, both for Feather Crowns; Pulitzer Prize for autobiography nomination, 2000, for Clear Springs: A Memoir; Southern Book Award for fiction, Southern Book Critics Circle, 2002, for Zigzagging down a Wild Trail; Kentucky Literary Award, 2003, for Elvis Presley; John William Corrington Award for Literary Excellence, Centenary College, 2005.
Nabokov's Garden: A Guide to "Ada," Ardis (Ann Arbor, MI), 1974.
The Girl Sleuth: A Feminist Guide to the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, and Their Sisters, Feminist Press (Old Westbury, NY), 1975.
Shiloh and Other Stories, Harper (New York, NY), 1982, reprinted, Modern Library (New York, NY), 2001.
In Country (novel), Harper (New York, NY), 1985, reprinted, Harper Perennial (New York, NY), 2005.
Spence + Lila (novel), Harper (New York, NY), 1988.
Love Life: Stories, Harper (New York, NY), 1989.
Feather Crowns (novel), Harper (New York, NY), 1993.
Midnight Magic: Selected Stories of Bobbie Ann Mason, Ecco Press (Hopewell, NJ), 1998.
Clear Springs: A Memoir, Random House (New York, NY), 1999.
Zigzagging down a Wild Trail (short stories), Random House (New York, NY), 2001.
Elvis Presley (nonfiction), Penguin (New York, NY), 2003.
An Atomic Romance (novel), Random House (New York, NY), 2005.
(Editor, with Kristin Johannsen and Mary Ann Taylor-Hall) Missing Mountains, Wind Publications (Nicholasville, KY), 2005.
Nancy Culpepper (short stories), Random House (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor of short stories to anthologies, including Best American Short Stories, 1981 and 1983, The Pushcart Prize, 1983 and 1996, and The O. Henry Awards, 1986 and 1988. Contributor to magazines, including the New Yorker, Atlantic, and Mother Jones; frequent contributor to "The Talk of the Town" column, New Yorker.
In Country was filmed by Warner Brothers and directed by Norman Jewison in 1989.
The people and terrain of rural western Kentucky figure prominently in the fiction of Bobbie Ann Mason, a highly regarded novelist and short story writer. Herself a native Kentuckian, Mason has chronicled the changes wrought in her region by the introduction of such phenomena as television, shopping malls, popular music, and fast-food restaurants. Her characters often stand perplexed at the junction between traditionalism and modernity, between permanence and transience, between their own deep-seated need for individual expression and their obligations to family and home. As Meredith Sue Willis noted in the Washington Post Book World, Mason "has a reputation as a regional writer, but what she is really writing about is the numerous Americans whose dreams and goals have been uplifted and distorted by popular culture." According to David Quammen in the New York Times Book Review, "Loss and deprivation, the disappointment of pathetically modest hopes, are the themes Bobbie Ann Mason works and reworks. She portrays the disquieted lives of men and women not blessed with much money or education or luck, but cursed with enough sensitivity and imagination to suffer regrets." Mason has also written the autobiographical Clear Springs: A Memoir, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and a short biography, Elvis Presley.
Mason's first volume of fiction, Shiloh and Other Stories, established her reputation as a rising voice in southern literature. Novelist Anne Tyler, for one, hailed her in the New Republic as "a full-fledged master of the short story." Most of the sixteen works in Shiloh originally appeared in the New Yorker, Atlantic, or other national magazines, a fact surprising to several critics who, like Anatole Broyard in the New York Times Book Review, labeled Mason's work "a regional literature that describes people and places almost unimaginably differ- ent from ourselves and the big cities in which we live." Explained Quammen: "Miss Mason writes almost exclusively about working-class and farm people coping with their muted frustrations in western Kentucky (south of Paducah, not far from Kentucky Lake, if that helps you), and the gap to be bridged empathically between her readership and her characters [is] therefore formidable. But formidable also is Miss Mason's talent, and her craftsmanship."
In an interview published in Contemporary Literature, Mason commented upon the fact that she seems to be read by an audience quite different from the one in which her characters might find themselves. "I don't think I write fiction that's for a select group," she told Bonnie Lyons. "I'm not sure a lot of people [in rural Kentucky] read my work…. I think a lot of people wouldn't want to read my work because they might find it too close to their lives. They're not interested in reading something that familiar; it would make them uncomfortable."
Many critics have attributed Mason's success to her vivid evocation of a region's physical and social geography. "As often as not," Gene Lyons reported in Newsweek, the author describes "a matter of town—paved roads, indoor plumbing, and above all, TV—having come to the boondocks with the force of an unannounced social revolution." In a similar vein, Emma Cobb commented in Contemporary Southern Writers that "along with giving voice to characters in language that reflects their backgrounds, Mason's work is important as a chronicle of the changing physical landscape of the contemporary South. Brand names and popular culture references infiltrate her characters' vocabularies as strip-malling, chain-store spreading, and convenience-promising change sweeps into previously isolated regions. Characters try to make their way amid the changes … often unsure of how to proceed and struggling to articulate their feelings." While the language of Mason's characters reflects their rural background, her people do not fit the Hollywood stereotype of backwoods "hillbillies" content to let the rest of the world pass by. Tyler noted that they have "an earnest faith in progress; they are as quick to absorb new brand names as foreigners trying to learn the language of a strange country they've found themselves in." "It is especially poignant," she added, "that the characters are trying to deal with changes most of us already take for granted." Mason's Kentucky is a world in transition, with the old South fast becoming the new.
Mason often explores intensely personal events that lead to the acceptance of something new or the rejection—or loss—of something old. These adjustments in the characters' lives reflect a general uneasiness that pervades the cultural landscape; the forces of change and alienation are no less frightening because they are universal or unavoidable. The characters in Mason's fiction are caught between isolation and transience, and this struggle is reflected in their relationships, which are often emotionally and intellectually distant.
As a result, wrote Time critic R.Z. Sheppard, "Mason has an unwavering bead on the relationship between instincts and individual longings. Her women have ambitions but never get too far from the nest; her men have domestic moments but spend a lot of time on wheels." Mason's characters "exist in a psychological rather than a physical environment," Broyard similarly contended, "one that has been gutted—like an abandoned building—by the movement of American life. They fall between categories, occupy a place between nostalgia and apprehension. They live, without history or politics, a life more like a linoleum than a tapestry."
Other critics, while noting Mason's ability to evoke psychological states, have emphasized her skill at depicting the material details of her "linoleum" world. Tyler pointed out that readers know precisely what dishes constitute the characters' meals, what clothes hang in their closets, and what craft projects fill their spare time. Mason intones the brand names that are infiltrating her characters' vocabularies, and the exact titles of soap operas and popular songs provide an aural backdrop for the fiction's emotional dramas. Her characters' voices, according to Tyler, "ring through our living rooms." Dictionary of Literary Biography contributor John D. Kalb noted that "Mason is among the first to use seriously the so-called low art of popular culture as an important underpinning to her literature and the lives of her characters. While she portrays the encroaching impact of urban America on her rural occupants … she usually does so not as a criticism but as a means of providing an accurate and realistic depiction of the people within their changing environments. Her inclusion of these popular elements enhances the sense of meeting real people engaged in their everyday lives."
In her first novel, In Country, "Mason returns to this same geographical and spiritual milieu" as her short fiction, reported New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani, "and she returns, too, to her earlier themes: the dislocations wrought on ordinary, blue-collar lives by recent history—in this case, recent history in the form of the Vietnam War." Seventeen-year-old Samantha Hughes does not remember the war, but it has profoundly affected her life: her father died in Vietnam and her Uncle Emmett, with whom she lives, still bears the emotional and physical scars of his service. In the summer after her high school graduation, Sam struggles to understand the war and learn about her father. "Ten years after the end of the Vietnam War," summarized Richard Eder in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, "in the most prosaic and magical way possible, she stubbornly undertakes the exorcism of a ghost that almost everything in our everyday life manages to bury." In the novel Mason demonstrates the same concern for particulars that distinguishes her short fiction, as Christian Science Monitor contributor Marilyn Gardner observed: "She displays an ear perfectly tuned to dialogue, an eye that catches every telling detail and quirky mannerism. Tiny, seemingly insignificant observations and revelations accumulate almost unnoticed until something trips them, turning them into literary grenades explosive with meaning."
Detroit Free Press writer Suzanne Yeager similarly believed that the author's details contribute to the authenticity of the novel. "Mason's narrative is so extraordinarily rich with the sounds, smells and colors of daily life in the '80s that Sam and her family and friends take on an almost eerie reality." As a result, the critic added, In Country "becomes less a novel and more a diary of the unspoken observations of ordinary America." Jonathan Yardley, however, faulted the novel for the "dreary familiarity" of its Vietnam themes. Writing in the Washington Post Book World, he asserted that Mason "has failed to transform these essentially political questions into the stuff of fiction; none of her characters come to life, the novel's structure is awkward and its narrative herky-jerky, her prose wavers uncertainly between adult and teenaged voices." But other critics found Mason's work successful; Chicago Tribune Book World contributor Bruce Allen, for instance, said that the novel's "real triumph … is Mason's deep and honest portrayal of her two protagonists," especially Sam. "More than any other character in our recent fiction," the critic continued, Sam "is a real person who grows more and more real the better we come to know her—and the novel that affords us the opportunity to is, clearly, the year's most gratifying reading experience." "[Mason's] first novel, although it lacks the page-by-page abundance of her best stories," concluded Joel Conarroe in the New York Times Book Review, "is an exceptional achievement, at once humane, comic and moving."
Mason once told CA that she had been most rewarded by the reaction real Vietnam veterans had to In Country. "It's been personally very gratifying to hear from them, to know that they took the trouble to write to me and tell me that the book meant something to them," she said. "Most of the Vietnam vets who wrote me didn't write at length; they just seemed to say thank you. It was very moving to hear from those people."
In Spence + Lila, Mason's second novel, the title characters are a Kentucky farm couple who have been married for over forty years. Lila's upcoming surgery is forcing them to face the prospect of being separated for the first time since World War II. Also, as in her other work, Mason looks at the changes in the larger environment as well as those in her characters' lives—as Kalb put it, "the changes of attitudes and values in the modern world that has intruded in [an] isolated haven." "The chapters alternate between Spence's and Lila's point of view, and such resonances [in their thoughts] range freely through the past and present," related Los Angeles Times Book Review contributor Nancy Mairs. Despite the potential for sentimentality in the story, Mason "manages to avoid the gooey and patronizing muck that is usually described as heartwarming," remarked a Time reviewer. "Her account is funny and deft, with plenty of gristle." Likewise, in Kalb's opinion, "Spence + Lila is a novel about real love—not saccharine-sweet sentimentality, but the well-aged version of love between two people who have shared a long, sometimes difficult and trying, life together."
Newsweek writer Peter S. Prescott, however, found Spence + Lila a "gently tedious" book saved only by Mason's skillful writing. But Kakutani, although acknowledging that the book "suffers from a melodramatic predictability absent from Ms. Mason's earlier works," thought that the author treated her subject "without ever becoming sentimental or cliched." The critic went on to praise Mason's "lean stripped-down language" and "nearly pitch-perfect ear for the way her characters speak," and added: "Mainly, however, it's her sure-handed ability to evoke Spence and Lila's life together that lends their story such poignance and authenticity." New York Times Book Review contributor Frank Conroy likewise commended Mason's dialogue, but admitted that "one wishes she had risked a bit more in this book, taking us under the surface of things instead of lingering there so lovingly and relentlessly." "Awkward silence in the face of ideas and feelings is a common frailty," elaborated Mairs, "but it represents a limitation in Spence + Lila, constraining Mason to rush her story and keep to its surface…. If I perceive any defect in Spence + Lila," the critic continued, "it's that this is a short novel which could well have been long." "As soon as [Mason's] characters open their mouths, they come to life and move to center stage," New York Times Book Review correspondent Jill McCorkle similarly concluded. "If there is a weakness it would be the reader's desire to prolong their talk and actions before moving to an ending that is both touching and satisfying."
Despite the author's success with In Country and Spence + Lila, "Mason's strongest form may be neither the novel nor the story, but the story collection," Lorrie Moore maintained in her New York Times Book Review assessment of Love Life: Stories. "It is there, picking up her pen every twenty pages to start anew, gathering layers through echo and overlap, that Ms. Mason depicts most richly a community of contemporary lives." While Kakutani remarked that "few of Ms. Mason's characters ever resolve their dilemmas—or if they do, their decisions take place … beyond the knowledge of the reader," she asserted that the stories "are not simply minimalist ‘slice-of-life’ exercises, but finely crafted tales that manage to invest inarticulate, small-town lives with dignity and intimations of meaning." Mason's "stories work like parables, small in scale and very wise, tales wistfully told by a masterful stylist whose voice rises purely from the heart of the country," stated Judith Freeman in the Los Angeles Times Book Review.
Reference Guide to Short Fiction contributor Laurie Clancy felt that this collection and Shiloh have shown Mason to be "a regional writer par excellence"; however, she cautioned that "the best of Mason's work has a gritty authenticity and dry humor, but at times the monotony and limitations of the figures she writes about seep into the prose as well." Mason, she observed, offers "little or no analysis of the characters' inner consciousness." New York Times Book Review critic Michael Gorra remarked on this, as well, in his review of Midnight Magic: Selected Stories of Bobbie Ann Mason, which republished several stories from Shiloh and Love Life. This collection, he contended, "demonstrates … Mason's narrow range—narrow in terms of the characters and situations on which she draws; narrow too in her reliance on a tight and impersonal third-person voice…. I admire Bobbie Ann Mason's craft, her precise eye, the vivid dialogue that stops just short of turning down the road toward local color. But after reading so much of her uninflected prose, I can't help longing for something a bit more full throated."
Mason's third novel marked a departure from her tendency to set her fiction in present times. Feather Crowns is set in turn-of-the-century Kentucky and tells the story of a farm wife named Christianna Wheeler, who gives birth to quintuplets. Overnight the modest Wheeler tobacco farm becomes a mecca for the curious of every stripe as people flock to see—and hold—the tiny babies. As events unfold, Christie and her husband find themselves drawn away from home as a literal carnival sideshow attraction. The book is a meditation upon fame, self-determination, and the conflict between superstition and science. McCorkle noted in the New York Times Book Review that in Feather Crowns "Mason's attention to the microscopic detail of everyday life is, as always, riveting…. Along with the authentically colorful, often humorous dialogue, there are wonderful descriptions of churning and nursing and chopping dark-fire tobacco. And always there are subtle reminders of life's fragility, our uncertainty about what lies ahead." McCorkle concluded: "Thematically, Feather Crowns is a rich extension of Ms. Mason's other works…. The life of Christianna Wheeler and her babies is memorable and complete."
Women's Review of Books critic Michele Clark declared that in Feather Crowns Mason successfully depicts a moment of epiphany for its central character. "Christie Wheeler becomes empowered through her capacity to ask questions and her ability to experience each moment of daily life to its fullest," the critic stated. "And this long, satisfying novel offers readers who are willing to slow down the same chance to see ordinary life anew." In the Los Angeles Times Book Review, Lisa Alther called Feather Crowns "a brilliantly sustained and grimly humorous parable about fame in 20th-century America," adding: "Mason's stunning morality tale about the process by which … degradation can overtake innocent people who simply need cash or long for some excitement is extremely illuminating—and especially for anyone alive today who has ever pondered the ravages of our modern publicity juggernaut."
Mason told a contributor in the San Francisco Review of Books that, far from being a diversion for her, Feather Crowns represented a new way of looking at her Kentucky culture, filtered through her grandmother's generation. "Right now it's hard to know what's going on in America and where we're all going," she said, adding: "I think there must always be stages in history when we feel this way, but in order to get our bearings today we have to go back and get a clearer sense of where we came from and what formed us." Mason continued: "I think basically that is Christie's quest in the book…. It's about being faced with a bewildering set of circumstances. She tries to make sense of all of it and tries to rise above it and be herself, a survivor. I think that's also the challenge for us in this part of the twentieth century."
Having used her rural Kentucky background in fiction, Mason explored it autobiographically in Clear Springs. "She uses this memoir of growing up in the 1950s to provide a tantalizing glimpse into the origins of her fiction," reported Josephine Humphreys in the New York Times Book Review. "And in the process of taking a close look at her own beginnings, Mason gets to the heart of a whole generation—those of us born, roughly speaking, between Pearl Harbor and television. Behind us lay an old way, unchanged (we thought) for centuries; springing up before us was a world no one had predicted or imagined." Mason makes clear that the changes in her world—something she has explored so extensively in her fiction—are neither totally positive nor completely negative, as the old days were not idyllic. She observes that on their farm, her family had "independence, stability, authenticity … along with mind-numbing, backbreaking labor and crippling social isolation." Commented Humphreys: "Because Bobbie Ann Mason's language is spare and her eye unsparing, she's able to handle matters that ordinarily invite sentimentality or romanticism. She can write the hard truth about home, love, loss and the terrifying passage of time." Still, remarked a Publishers Weekly reviewer, Mason makes the book "a loving embrace" of her roots and "a richly textured portrait of a rapidly disappearing way of life."
Mason once told Mervyn Rothstein in the New York Times: "I basically consider myself an exile…. And I have been one for years. And that's what gives me the distance to look back to where I'm from and to be able to write about it with some kind of perceptiveness…. It seems to me that an exile has a rather peculiar sensibility—you're straddling a fence and you don't know which side you belong on." But Mason would later return to Kentucky, to live near Lexington. She has also returned to the University of Kentucky, where she was once a student, to become a writer-in-residence. When Mason published her next collection of short stories, Zigzagging down a Wild Trail, it also evidenced a change, with several of the eleven stories taking place outside of small-town Kentucky.
The collection earned commendations from reviewers for providing the sharp observations and precise detail that Mason is best known for. In the Atlantic Monthly, Bill Broun noted that "Mason almost zigzags out of her depth" in the few stories that strayed into unfamiliar thematic or geographic territory. Writing for Library Journal, Ann H. Fisher said the collection "reflects the sadder, wiser perspective of midlife" and concluded: "Only the kindest complaint applies: the stories end too soon." In the New York Times Book Review, Walter Kirn was convinced that Mason had rescued the minimalist short story form from oblivion. Kirn felt that Mason's new stories responded to old criticisms that her work was marred by "detachment and simplemindedness." He explained: "Mason's people may still watch too much TV, drink to much beer and love too indiscriminately, but their limitations pain them…. They feel the pressures of the wider world and sense both its opportunities and perils."
As part of a series published by Penguin, Mason was asked to write a brief biography about the legendary singer Elvis Presley. In Elvis Presley Mason shows a special understanding of her subject, having grown up in roughly the same time and place as the singer, and having listened to him throughout his entire career. The biography includes familiar stories as well as the author's observations on topics including southern foods, the hiring of Colonel Tom Parker as Presley's manager because of his familiar horse-trading style, and the singer's struggle to be both a poor boy from Tupelo, Mississippi, and "the King" of rock and roll. The biography was described by some reviewers as a good introduction for readers who were unfamiliar with the vast body of writings on the subject. Others judged that such a short biography failed to add to their understanding of Presley. In the New York Times Book Review, Eric P. Nash said the book is filled with "twice-told tales" and that it "does not account for the meaning of [Presley's] music or why a quarter-century after his death he remains a larger-than-life figure." Often, however, reviewers welcomed Mason's insight on Elvis Presley. Ellen Emry Heltzel wrote in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Mason had done "a superb job of honing pertinent facts into a plausible, well-told story." The idea that Presley had been "raised high in Highbrowland" interested Los Angeles Times writer Elaine Dundy, who reflected that Mason "knows firsthand how it felt to be a fan in hot-blooded youth; how it feels to be a fan for more than four decades."
Mason returned to fiction with An Atomic Romance, her first novel in more than a decade. The work concerns Reed Futrell, a free-spirited, nature-loving maintenance worker at a uranium enrichment plant in Kentucky, and Julia Jensen, a biologist who distrusts the nuclear energy industry. When rumors spread about plutonium contamination near the plant and Reed dismisses Julia's concerns about his health, their relationship starts to deteriorate. "Mason adopts a light, almost playful tone throughout the book, an effective antidote to the serious subject matter," observed a reviewer in the Miami Herald. "She also imbues Reed with the upbeat steadiness of a fire fighter or ER doctor, someone used to confronting danger without flinching. Through Reed's eyes, Mason manages to take something as immense as atomic power and make it knowable." Other critics, like New York Times Book Review contributor Rob Nixon, felt the plot of An Atomic Romance lacked suspense. "The real drama plays out on the cellular level, where the mutagenic violence is difficult to prove and hard to stage, except abstractly," Nixon wrote. "It's not surprising, then, that the book's chemical preoccupations slow the romantic chemistry between Reed and Julia, rather than heighten it." Many reviewers, however, praised Mason's appealing characters. For example, Dorothy Allison, commenting in the Women's Review of Books, called An Atomic Romance "a novel about people's emotional lives and how far they will go to avoid the very feelings they should engage."
Chronicling two generations of a Kentucky family, Nancy Culpepper is about the semi-autobiographical title character. It includes the short stories "Blue Country" and "The Heirs" as well as reprinting Spence + Lila. The interconnected tales "read like an episodic novel," remarked Ann H. Fisher in Library Journal. Hillary Frey stated in the New York Times Book Review: "Even in its lighter moments, Mason's fiction can inspire a yearning for something lost—whether it's a person, a place or a moment. That ache animates Nancy in the later stories as she moves through her middle years, always feeling slightly out of place, always searching for connections that just barely elude her."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 28, 1984, Volume 43, 1987, Volume 82, 1994.
Contemporary Southern Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 173: American Novelists since World War II, Fifth Series, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook: 1987, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1988.
Mason, Bobbie Ann, Clear Springs: A Memoir, Random House (New York, NY), 1999.
Prenshaw, Peggy Whitman, editor, Women Writers of the South, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 1984.
Reference Guide to Short Fiction, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Short Story Criticism, Volume 4, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1990.
Wilhelm, Albert, Bobbie Ann Mason: A Study of the Short Fiction, Twayne (New York, NY), 1998.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 24, 2003, Ellen Emry Heltzel, review of Elvis Presley, p. E1.
Atlantic Monthly, October, 2001, Bill Broun, review of Zigzagging down A Wild Trail, p. 130.
Booklist, June 1, 2005, Allison Block, review of An Atomic Romance, p. 1712; May 15, 2006, Donna Seaman, review of Nancy Culpepper, p. 24.
Chicago Tribune Book World, September 1, 1985, Bruce Allen, review of In Country.
Christian Science Monitor, September 6, 1985, Marilyn Gardner, review of In Country.
Contemporary Literature, winter, 1991, Bonnie Lyons, interview with Bobbie Ann Mason, pp. 449-470.
Detroit Free Press, October 13, 1985, Suzanne Yeager, review of In Country.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2005, review of An Atomic Romance, p. 658; May 1, 2006, review of Nancy Culpepper, p. 432.
Library Journal June 1, 2001, Ann H. Fisher, review of Zigzagging down a Wild Trail, p. 220; July 1, 2005, Robin Nesbitt, review of An Atomic Romance, p. 69; May 15, 2006, Ann H. Fisher, review of Nancy Culpepper, p. 95.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, September 22, 1985, Richard Eder, review of In Country, p. 3; June 19, 1988, Nancy Mairs, "A Well-Seasoned Love," p. 6; March 19, 1989, Judith Freeman, "Country Parables," p. 1; October 24, 1993, Lisa Alther, "Fame and Misfortune," pp. 2, 8; January 26, 2003, Elaine Dundy, "The Rich but Unhappy Life of a King," p. R8.
Miami Herald, August 24, 2005, "An Atomic Romance: Bobbie Ann Mason Combines Nuclear Waste and Romance with Surprising Success."
Nation, January 18, 1986, Mona Molarsky, review of In Country, p. 242.
New Republic, November 1, 1982, Anne Tyler, "Kentucky Cameos," p. 36.
Newsweek, November 15, 1982, Gene Lyons, review of Shiloh and Other Stories, p. 107; August 1, 1988, Peter S. Prescott, "Bored and Bred in Kentucky," p. 53.
New York Review of Books, November 7, 1985, Diane Johnson, review of In Country, p. 15.
New York Times, September 4, 1985, Michiko Kakutani, review of In Country, p. 23; May 15, 1988, Mervyn Rothstein, "Homegrown Fiction," p. 50; June 11, 1988, Michiko Kakutani, "Struggle and Hope in the New South," p. 13; March 3, 1989, Michiko Kakutani, review of Love Life: Stories, p. B4.
New York Times Book Review, November 21, 1982, David Quammen, review of Shiloh and Other Stories, p. 7; December 19, 1982, Anatole Broyard, "Country Fiction," p. 31; September 15, 1985, Joel Conarroe, review of In Country, p. 7; June 26, 1988, Frank Conroy, review of Spence + Lila, p. 7; March 12, 1989, Lorrie Moore, "What L'il Abner Said," p. 7; September 26, 1993, Jill McCorkle, "Her Sensational Babies," p. 7; August 9, 1998, Michael Gorra, "The New New South," p. 7; May 30, 1999, Josephine Humphreys, "Her Old Kentucky Home," p. 5; August 19, 2001, Walter Kirn, review of Zigzagging down a Wild Trail, p. 9; March 2, 2003, Eric P. Nash, review of Elvis Presley, p. 24; September 11, 2005, Rob Nixon, "All Aglow," review of An Atomic Romance, p. 22; August 13, 2006, Hillary Frey, "Buying the Farm," review of Nancy Culpepper, p. 1.
Publishers Weekly, August 30, 1985, Wendy Smith, interview with Bobbie Ann Mason, p. 424; March 15, 1999, review of Clear Springs: A Memoir, p. 34; June 25, 2001, review of Zigzagging down a Wild Trail, p. 43; June 20, 2005, review of An Atomic Romance, p. 54; April 24, 2006, review of Nancy Culpepper, p. 34.
San Francisco Review of Books, February-March, 1994, interview with Bobbie Ann Mason, pp. 12-13.
Seattle Times, August 31, 2005, "An Atomic Romance: Bobbie Ann Mason's Portrait of a Nuclear Mechanic Hits Home."
Time, January 3, 1983, R.Z. Sheppard, review of Shiloh and Other Stories, p. 88; September 16, 1985, Paul Gray, review of In Country, p. 81; July 4, 1988, review of Spence + Lila, p. 71.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), June 26, 1988, Michael Dorris, "Bonds of Love: Bobbie Ann Mason's Chronicle of Family Crisis Adds Up to an Affirmation of Life," p. 6; February 19, 1989, Jack Fuller, "Bobbie Ann Mason Sees Reality on Sale at Kmart," p. 1.
Washington Post Book World, September 8, 1985, Jonathan Yardley, review of In Country; March 26, 1989, Meredith Sue Willis, "Stories with a Sense of Place," p. 11.
Women's Review of Books, March, 1994, Michele Clark, review of Feather Crowns, p. 19; January-February, 2006, Dorothy Allison, "Plot vs. Character," review of An Atomic Romance, p. 4.