Bobbie Ann Mason is a significant American short-story writer and novelist. She grew up in rural western Kentucky, where her father was a dairy farmer. During her childhood she helped with farm chores, listened to popular music, and read literature such as Nancy Drew and other girl sleuth mysteries.
After earning her B.A. from the University of Kentucky in 1962, she moved to New York City, where she worked for Ideal Publishing Co. and wrote for popular magazines such as Movie Stars, Movie Life, and T.V. Star Parade. She received her M.A. in English at the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1966. In 1969 she married Roger B. Rawlings, an editor and writer, and in 1972 she received her Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut. After receiving her doctorate, Mason began teaching at Mansfield State College in Pennsylvania, where she continued to teach until 1979. While teaching, she published two scholarly books, Nabokov’s Garden: A Guide to “Ada” and The Girl Sleuth: A Feminist Guide to the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, and Their Sisters.
During the 1980’s Mason’s short stories began to appear in distinguished magazines such as The New Yorker and The Atlantic. Her short-story collections Shiloh, and Other Stories and Love Life also appeared in the 1980’s. Throughout these stories Mason provides a realistic picture of ordinary people, portraying working-class characters of rural western Kentucky who work at Kmart or Rexall Drugs, drive trucks, build houses, and clip grocery coupons. Mason’s portrayal of Kentucky folk stems partly from her memories of the people in her rural western Kentucky hometown. Lack of economic means often intensifies characters’ struggles, leading to divorce or drinking. The characters frequently lack direction in their lives, failing to recognize or act upon opportunities to improve their circumstances.
Mason’s short stories exemplify...
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