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Taylor-Hall, Mary Ann 1937–

Taylor-Hall, Mary Ann 1937–

PERSONAL: Born October 17, 1937, in Chicago, IL; daughter of Edmund Haynes and Mildred Taylor; married William Alexander Henry, September 5, 1972 (marriage ended June 1, 1977); married James Baker Hall (a writer and photographer), September 31, 1982; stepchildren: (second marriage) Matthew Russell, Michael Walker, Lawrence Pemble. Education: Attended Wesleyan College, Macon, GA, 1955–57; University of Florida, B.A. (with honors), 1959; Columbia University, M.A. (with honors), 1962.

ADDRESSES: Home—Sadieville, KY. Agent—Geri Thomas, Elaine Markson Literary Agency, Inc., 44 Greenwich Ave., New York, NY 10011.

CAREER: Writer.

AWARDS, HONORS: Grants from National Endowment for the Arts, 1980, 2005; Al Smith fellow, Kentucky Arts Council, 1992; book of the year award, short story collections category, ForeWord, 2001, for How She Knows What She Knows about Yo-yos; PEN Syndicated Fiction Award.

WRITINGS:

Come and Go, Molly Snow (novel), W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 1995.

How She Knows What She Knows about Yo-yos (short stories), Sarabande Books (Louisville, KY), 2000.

(Editor, with Bobbie Ann Mason and Kristin Johannsen) Missing Mountains: We Went to the Mountaintop but It Wasn't There, Wind Publications (Lexington, KY), 2005.

Work represented in anthologies, including Best American Short Stories, 1988.

SIDELIGHTS: Writing in People, Thomas Curwen described Mary Ann Taylor-Hall's Come and Go, Molly Snow as "a remarkable first novel" in which "grief becomes a beautiful rendition of memory." Denise Perry Donavin, writing in Booklist, observed: "Taylor-Hall has composed a beautiful, moody novel with a character that will live in readers' hearts." The protagonist of Come and Go, Molly Snow is bluegrass fiddler Carrie Marie Mullins. The grief that Curwen refers to has to do both with the death of Carrie's young daughter in an automobile accident and the shadow that hangs over her life from the death of her own father when she was only fifteen. Although Carrie tries to lose herself in her music, she suffers a nervous breakdown. The novel chronicles her gradual recovery under the care of two older women while living in a rambling house outside the small Kentucky town where the action of the book takes place. Although her days are filled with the mundane activities of housework and visiting neighbors, Taylor-Hall allows Carrie's mind to roam across the years, revealing the events that have formed her character and led her to this point in life. The romantic interest of the novel, and a parallel to Carrie's own father, emerges in Cap Dunlap, a wandering musician and lead guitarist for a local bluegrass band. "Feisty, endearing and spontaneous," Curwen noted, "Carrie follows her dream…. Her passion fills this novel with lyrical intensity. Her spirit leaps from the narrative like an inspired improvisation."

The stories in Taylor-Hall's second book, the collection How She Knows What She Knows About Yo-yos, are all narrated by women protagonists. According to a reviewer from Publishers Weekly, Taylor-Hall "displays a cool, intuitive confidence in these five long and shapely stories." The title piece, which the same reviewer characterized as "magnificent," is set in Kentucky and tells the outwardly simple tale of Undella, a young woman who is just coming of age and who falls in love with a yo-yo salesman passing through town. Although Undella fantasizes that the man will stay beyond their one-night stand, in actuality he steals her dearest possession, her Chevrolet truck. She manages to overcome her disappointment and emerge with a more mature and liberating perspective on life. Another story, "Banana Boats," is told from the perspective of an elderly woman who observes her husband's failing health, unable to feel sympathy because she is embittered by his infidelities throughout the course of their marriage. Another, set in the south of England, deals with the love affair and travails of a young American woman and a British artist. The Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded: "Suffused with subtlety and feeling, these stories explore multiple, wide-ranging zones of emotional territory, and amid Taylor-Hall's vivid settings, her complex, endearing characters captivate."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, February 1, 1995, Denise Perry Donavin, review of Come and Go, Molly Snow, p. 991.

People, February 27, 1995, Thomas Curwen, review of Come and Go, Molly Snow, p. 28.

Publishers Weekly, November 1, 1999, review of How She Knows What She Knows about Yo-yos, p. 74.

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