Mary Robison’s short fiction has often been compared to that of older, more established contemporary writers such as Raymond Carver, Ann Beattie, and Frederick Barthelme because of its spare, laconic humor and its presentation of empty lives in a hopelessly materialistic society. Her story “Yours” was anthologized in Discovering Literature (2000), along with the work of Raymond Carver and Sandra Cisneros. She did receive high critical praise for her earliest stories, which appeared in The New Yorker, and her first collection of short fiction, Days, garnered outstanding notices from many literary critics and fellow writers, even though she was only thirty years old when it was published. Though her stories embody the cool precision that has become characteristic of The New Yorker, her style is anything but derivative. She possesses an authentically original voice and a writing style that captures, simultaneously, the stark banality and the comic irony of the late stages of the American Dream in the last quarter of the twentieth century.
She has received fellowships from the Yaddo Writers and Artists Colony (1978) and the Breadloaf Writers Conference (1979). She has been honored with awards by the Authors Guild (1979) and PEN (1979) and received a grant from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.