Barry Hannah Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Barry Hannah is also known for his novels.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Barry Hannah received the Arnold Gingrich Award for short fiction from Esquire (1978), the Henry H. Bellaman Foundation Award in Fiction (1970), the Bread Loaf Fellowship (1971), the William Faulkner Foundation Prize (1972), and an award in literature from American Academy of Arts and Letters (1979). He has also received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, a Mississippi Governor’s Award in the Arts, and a Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award. His novel Geronimo Rex (1972) was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

In addition to his novels, Barry Hannah published short stories in Esquire magazine, and some of his short fiction has been collected in Airships (1978), Captain Maximus (1985), Bats out of Hell (1993), and High Lonesome (1996).


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Because his fiction is often set in the contemporary American South and is characterized by violence and gothic humor, Barry Hannah has most often been compared to William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, and Carson McCullers, other southern writers who have explored violent and eccentric human behavior in southern settings. Hannah, however, had a style and an energy that set him apart from others as a highly original American writer. His much-acclaimed first novel, Geronimo Rex, was awarded the William Faulkner Prize for Fiction and was nominated for a National Book Award, and Airships, his first book of short stories, received the Arnold Gingrich Short Fiction Award (Gingrich was founder and editor of Esquire magazine). Hannah received a Bellaman Foundation Award in Fiction (1970), a Bread Loaf Fellowship (1971), and an award for literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1979). He was also honored with the Robert Penn Warren Lifetime Achievement Award in Fiction and the PEN/Malamud Award, which recognizes excellence in the art of short fiction.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Cawelti, Scott. “An Interview with Barry Hannah.” Short Story 3 (Spring, 1995): 105-116. This intriguing interview contains Hannah’s avowal that he himself has never carried a gun along with the assertion that “it’s the absolute act, the act of firing a gun randomly into a crowd—it’s the absolute act of art.”

Charney, Mark J. Barry Hannah. New York: Twayne, 1992. First full-length study of Hannah and an indispensable guide to all his fiction, including the short stories collected in Airships and Captain Maximus. Makes a case for Hannah as one of the South’s freshest and most iconoclastic writers. Features a thorough discussion of Airships, which he sees as reflecting a vision of the South as a microcosm of human existence. Also discusses Captain Maximus in the light of its preoccupation with violence. Includes an annotated bibliography.

Hannah, Barry. “The Spirits Will Win Through: An Interview with Barry Hannah.” Interview by R. Vanarsall. Southern Review, Spring, 1983, 314-341. A long, thoughtful interview, which connects Hannah’s own biography with the material in his stories. Discusses his alcoholism, his fascination with violence, his work in California as a screenwriter, the influence of other authors, his love of the English language, and his feelings of kinship with rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix.

Kennedy, Randy. “At Home with: Barry Hannah; Mellowing Out but Unbowed.” The New York Times, July 9, 1998, F1:1. An interesting interview with Hannah at his home in...

(The entire section is 691 words.)