This provocative, rollicking story is the much-anticipated new novel-the first in over a decade-from acclaimed author Bobbie Ann Mason. InAn Atomic Romancewe meet Reed Futrell, a sexy, thoughtful hero who grapples with radioactive contamination, a midlife crisis, and string theory-all while falling in love. Reed is an engineer at a uranium-enrichment plant near a riverside city in heartland America. He has deep roots in this community: He was raised there; his father worked at the very same plant before him. And it was here that Reed met, married, and then divorced his wife. Reed spends countless nights camping at a local wildlife preserve, gazing at the stars, fishing and hunting-that is, until deformed frogs are discovered at the site. Though his father was killed in a tragic accident at the atomic plant years ago, Reed stays on, proud to perform demanding and dangerous work for the benefit of the nation. As for the radioactive "incidents" he has endured, Reed prefers to think about other things-Hubble photographs of distant galaxies, Albert Einstein, his dog. Reed's casual attitude toward danger infuriates his on-again-off-again girlfriend, Julia, as much as his quirky mind and muscular body intrigue her. Julia, a biologist, is truly Reed's match-or maybe more than his match. They both are witty, curious, and fascinated by science. Indeed, their courtship began with banter about Stephen Hawking's theories of space-time, and ever since it has been an up-and-down adventure of sexual attraction, intellectual game-playing, and long silences when Julia refuses to return Reed's calls. When news reports reveal evidence of radioactive pollution in the land surrounding the plant, Reed and Julia's relationship faces an unprecedented challenge. InAn Atomic Romance, Bobbie Ann Mason delivers a brilliant novel set against a backdrop of atomic power: a love story between a motorcycle-riding loner and an independent, strong-minded biologist; between the peaceful present in a typical American community and the nation's violent nuclear past; and, finally, between a good man and the work he takes pride in, though it may be putting his life in danger. From the Hardcover edition.
In this superb memoir, the bestselling author of In Country and other award-winning books tells her own story, and the story of a Kentucky farm family, the Masons of Clear Springs. Like Russell Baker's Growing Up, Jill Ker Conway's The Road from Coorain, and other classic literary memoirs, Clear Springs takes us back in time to recapture a way of life that has all but disappeared, a country culture deeply rooted in work and food and family, in common sense and music and the land. Clear Springs is also an American woman's odyssey, exploring how a misfit girl who dreamed of distant places grew up in the forties, fifties, and sixties, and fulfilled her ambition to be a writer. A multilayered narrative of three generations--Bobbie Ann Mason, her parents and grandparents--Clear Springs gracefully interlaces several different lives, decades, and locales, moving from the industrious life on a Kentucky farm to travels around the South with Mason as president of the Hilltoppers Fan Club; from the hippie lifestyle of the 1960s New York counterculture to the shock-therapy ward of a mental institution; from a farmhouse to the set of a Hollywood movie; from pop music concerts to a small rustic schoolhouse. Clear Springs depicts the changes that have come to family, to women, and to heartland America in the twentieth century, as well as to Bobbie Ann Mason herself. When the movie of Mason's bestselling novel In Country is filmed near Clear Springs, it brings the first limousines to town, even as it brings out once again the wisdom and values of Mason's remarkable parents. Her mother, especially, stands at the center of this book. Mason's journey leads her to a recognition of the drama and significance of her mother's life and to a new understanding of heritage, place, and family roots. Brilliant and evocative, Clear Springs is a stunning achievement.
A vibrant, sympathetic portrait of the once and future king of rock ?n? roll by the award-winning author of Shiloh and In Country To this clear-eyed portrait of the first rock ?n? roll superstar, Bobbie Ann Mason brings a novelist?s insight and the empathy of a fellow Southerner who, from the first time she heard his voice on the family radio, knew that Elvis was ?one of us. ? Elvis Presley deftly braids the mythic and human aspects of his story, capturing both the charismatic, boundary-breaking singer who reveled in his celebrity and the soft-spoken, working-class Southern boy who was fatally unprepared for his success. The result is a riveting, tragic book that goes to the heart of the American dream. .
The story of a Kentucky farm woman whose life is changed forever by one extraordinary occurrence. Set in the apocalyptic atmosphere of the turn of this century, Christiannia Wheeler attends a fire-and-brimstone revival while pregnant, and later gives birth to the first quintuplets in North America.
BONUS: This edition contains The Girl in the Blue Beret discussion questions. Inspired by the wartime experiences of her late father-in-law, award-winning author Bobbie Ann Mason has written an unforgettable novel about an American World War II pilot shot down in Occupied Europe. When Marshall Stone returns to his crash site decades later, he finds himself drawn back in time to the brave people who helped him escape from the Nazis. He especially recalls one intrepid girl guide who risked her life to help him--the girl in the blue beret. At twenty-three, Marshall Stone was a U.S. flyboy stationed in England. Headstrong and cocksure, he had nine exhilarating bombing raids under his belt when enemy fighters forced his B-17 to crash-land in a Belgian field near the border of France. The memories of what happened next--the frantic moments right after the fiery crash, the guilt of leaving his wounded crewmates and fleeing into the woods to escape German troops, the terror of being alone in a foreign country--all come rushing back when Marshall sets foot on that Belgian field again. Marshall was saved only by the kindness of ordinary citizens who, as part of the Resistance, moved downed Allied airmen through clandestine, often outrageous routes (over the Pyrenees to Spain) to get them back to their bases in England. Even though Marshall shared a close bond with several of the Resistance members who risked their lives for him, after the war he did not look back. But now he wants to find them again--to thank them and renew their ties. Most of all, Marshall wants to find the courageous woman who guided him through Paris. She was a mere teenager at the time, one link in the underground line to freedom. Marshall's search becomes a wrenching odyssey of discovery that threatens to break his heart--and also sets him on a new course for the rest of his life. In his journey, he finds astonishing revelations about the people he knew during the war--none more electrifying and inspiring than the story of the girl in the blue beret. Intimate and haunting, The Girl in the Blue Beret is a beautiful and affecting story of love and courage, war and redemption, and the startling promise of second chances.
In the summer of 1984, the war in Vietnam comes home to Sam Hughes, whose father was killed there before she was born. Granddad had said they were embarrassed that they lost the war, but Emmett said they were embarrassed that they were still alive.
Kentucky native Nancy Culpepper boldly left home to attend school in Massachusetts, married a Yankee, and raised her son in the Northeast. "One day I was feeding chickens and listening to Hank Williams and the next day I was expected to know what wines went with what," she tells her husband, Jack. Yet no matter where she travels, her rural southern heritage is never far from her thoughts, her habits, and her heart. Nancy is on a lifelong quest to understand her place in the world. Returning home to the family farm, she searches for photographic evidence of an ancestor bearing her own name. Still in her jeans, she brings home strange ideas and an assertiveness she learned up north. Always adventurous, Nancy travels far and wide-searching, seeking. The narrative sweep of her life traverses the turbulent sixties, the Vietnam War, the eighties and the foreboding death of John Lennon, and finally the new millennium-when a self-assured Nancy finally emerges. These humorous and often touching stories recount her courtship and marriage to Jack, her relationship with her precocious son, and the deep, loving bond between her parents, Spence and Lila Culpepper. Eventually Nancy's marriage is threatened by a cultural divide that plagued her and Jack from the start. But when she inherits the Culpepper family farm and discovers more pieces of her ancestral puzzle, she realizes that her life is assuming its proper shape. Later, standing on a lonely mountain in England, she sees the world from a surprising perspective. Bestselling author Bobbie Ann Mason's prizewinning Nancy Culpepper chronicles have appeared inThe New Yorker,The Boston Globe,The Southern Review, and other distinguished literary anthologies. She has compiled these stories into one definitive collection, which includes the novellaSpence + Lila, two new, never-before-published stories, and one Pushcart Prize winner. Heartfelt and thought-provoking, Nancy Culpepper is a poignant depiction of change and growth in a modern-day heroine. From the Hardcover edition.
"These stories will last," said Raymond Carver of Shiloh and Other Stories when it was first published, and almost two decades later this stunning fiction debut and winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award has become a modern American classic. In Shiloh, Bobbie Ann Mason introduces us to her western Kentucky people and the lives they forge for themselves amid the ups and downs of contemporary American life, and she poignantly captures the growing pains of the New South in the lives of her characters as they come to terms with feminism, R-rated movies, and video games. "Bobbie Ann Mason is one of those rare writers who, by concentrating their attention on a few square miles of native turf, are able to open up new and surprisingly wide worlds for the delighted reader," said Robert Towers in The New York Review of Books.From the Trade Paperback edition.
In this remarkable book, the author of Shiloh and Other Stories, In Country, and other award-winning books gives us powerful new stories that capture the restless energy of life in contemporary America. The characters here are travelers and seekers, feeling their way toward, or away from the defining moments of their lives. They roam out into the world to England, Alaska, Texas, Saudi Arabia, or ricochet back home to Kentucky, ceaselessly searching, exploring, testing for limits. I felt strange, says Chrissy in With Jazz, as though all my life I had been zigzagging down a wild trail to this particular place. In Charger, a teenage boy races along the interstate, seeking the father who abandoned him years before. In Rolling into Atlanta, a young woman searches for the kind of authenticity she remembers from her rural childhood. In Proper Gypsies, Nancy deals with the shock of being robbed in London. In The Funeral Side, Sandra comes home to try to fulfill her responsibilities to her family, but yearns to escape again to Alaska and the northern lights that haunt her. Writing in the spare, precise, beautifully nuanced language for which she is famous, Bobbie Ann Mason expands her art here in dramatic and illuminating fashion. These fascinating stories bring to life surprising individuals whose journeys shine a bright light on life as it is lived by many Americans today. Zigzagging Down a Wild Trail is a beautiful book by one of America's finest writers, a book full of drama, humor, and startling insights into the timeless longings of the human heart.
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