Centre College will welcome Kentucky author Bobbie Ann Mason to campus on Sept. 19, where she will be reading from her work in Vahlkamp Theatre at 7:30 p.m. The reading is free and open to the public and will be followed by a book signing.
“This is an especially exciting time to have Bobbie Ann Mason at Centre, because a really fine retrospective of her work has just come out, ‘Patchwork: A Bobbie Ann Mason Reader,’” said Mark Lucas, Alfred P. and Katherine B. Jobson Professor of English.
Lucas said Mason’s recent book is a compelling reminder of how remarkable her contributions have been since the publication of her first short story in the “New Yorker” literary magazine in 1980.
“Everyone knows, I think, that as more and more ‘New Yorker’ stories poured forth, Mason swiftly found herself at the core of a new kind of writing—along with Tobias Wolff, Ann Beattie and Raymond Carver—that changed the face of American fiction,” he added.
Students in Lucas’ Southern Literature Senior Seminar course are currently studying Mason’s work, and he said it’s not every day that they get to meet the legends on the syllabus.
“We don’t know what she’ll be reading Wednesday evening, but we’ll be equally happy with one of the famous early stories like ‘Shiloh’ or one of the new experimental flash fictions,” he explained.
Lucas said that the fact that Mason is a Kentuckian is a gift.
“Her importance isn’t a Kentucky thing—it’s national—but it’s fun to read stories like the recent one, ‘The Horsehair Ball Gown,’ that begins with discussion of the best place to order a hot brown outside of Louisville,” he added.
Mason was raised on her family’s dairy farm in Western Kentucky. She became interested in writing as a child when she wrote imitations of the mystery novels she read. She was inspired by Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women,” but it wasn’t until college that she discovered writers like Hemingway, Salinger and Fitzgerald.
She earned her B.A. in English at the University of Kentucky, her M.A. at the State University of New York at Binghamton and her Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut. Mason is also a former writer-in-residence at the University of Kentucky.
Mason is the author of Shiloh and Other Stories, and the novels “In Country,” which was made into a film starring Bruce Willis and Emily Lloyd, and “The Girl in the Blue Beret.”
Mason’s many awards include the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Southern Book Critics Circle Award and the Arts and Letters Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her memoir “Clear Springs,” about an American farm family in the 20th century, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
by Kerry Steinhofer
September 18, 2018
IF YOU GO
Reading and book signing with Bobbie Ann Mason
Wednesday, Sept. 19 • 7:30 p.m.
free and open to the public