Rosellen Brown 1939–
American novelist, poet, and short story writer.
A respected author of poetry and prose, Brown began her career as a poet and has since incorporated poetic elements in her fiction, which is dense with metaphor and imagery. In both her novels and her poems she writes of marriage and the family, although she has also drawn on her experience as a Civil Rights worker in the 1960s in a book of poetry, Some Deaths in the Delta (1970), and a novel, Civil Wars (1984).
In her first and second novels, Brown uses two narrative voices to portray the protagonists' dual perspectives. Autobiography of My Mother (1976) explores the antagonistic relationship between a mother and her daughter, with alternate chapters narrated by first one and then the other. Tender Mercies (1978), which centers on a family's struggles to adjust after the wife is paralyzed by an accident caused by her husband, is written in two distinct styles: the husband's story is narrated in straight prose while the wife's is rendered in imagistic stream-of-consciousness, consisting largely of dreams and memories, and resembling prose poems.
In Cora Fry (1977), Brown again fuses fiction and poetry. This cycle of poems tells the story of a New England housewife who is frustrated in her marriage but ultimately decides not to leave her husband. Brown said in an interview that her purpose in Cora Fry was "to take a woman's experience and see how it is kaleidoscopic, how every tiny piece of her life can be set against another and made to create the illusion of the whole life."
In Civil Wars Brown returns to the southern location of Some Deaths in the Delta. The protagonists are an unhappily married couple who were Civil Rights activists in the 1960s. The title refers to several instances of civil war: the American Civil War of the 1860s, the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s, and the perennial conflicts between the sexes and the generations within a family.
(See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 77-80.)