Jack of Diamonds, and Other Stories (Magill's Literary Annual 1989)
Born and educated in Mississippi, Elizabeth Spencer later lived in Italy, married an Englishman, and settled permanently in Montreal. Her work reflects the breadth of her experience. Although her first three novels were set in her native state, the Jamesian short novel for which she is best known, The Light in the Piazza (1960), and the work that succeeded it, Knights and Dragons (1965), were both stories of American women in Italy, while The Snare (1972) took place in New Orleans. Even though Spencer returned to Mississippi for the setting of The Salt Line (1984), it was the coastal region, and thus a very different environment from that of those earlier novels set in the inland part of the state.
The short stories for which Spencer is so highly praised are as varied in setting as her novels. Those collected in The Stories of Elizabeth Spencer (1981), which represent three decades of work, range from Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee to New York, Rome, and Montreal. As Eudora Welty points out in her foreword to that volume, however, it is almost inevitable for Southern writers to be fascinated with relationships and with the problems of individual identity which inevitably arise from those relationships. It might be added that Southern writers are also very much aware of the past as a factor that affects relationships and influences the sense of personal identity. Although she no longer lives in the South,...
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1989)
America. CLIX, October 1, 1988, p. 202.
Booklist. LXXXIV, June 15, 1988, p. 1709.
Chicago Tribune. August 24, 1988, V, p. 3.
Kirkus Reviews. LVI, June 1, 1988, p. 787.
Library Journal. CXIII, July, 1988, p. 96.
Los Angeles Times. September 16, 1988, V, p. 10.
The New York Times Book Review. XCIII, September 4, 1988, p. 6.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXXIII, June 3, 1988, p. 70.
Time. CXXXII, August 15, 1988, p. 64.
USA Today. August 24, 1988, p. D4.
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