Love Life: Stories

Bobbie Ann Mason, Author
Bobbie Ann Mason, Author HarperCollins Publishers $17.95 (241p) ISBN 978-0-06-016042-5
Reviewed on: 02/27/1989
Release date: 03/01/1989
Through meticulous, dispassionate observation, Mason ( In Country ) again evokes in her short stories a largely blue-collar rural America in the vicinity of Paducah, in western Kentucky, with occasional forays into Memphis. With names like Opal, Lynette and Cody, her protagonists may have come only recently from down on the farm, but their relationships to their origins seem remote. These uprooted Southerners live in a realm of massive shopping malls and fast-food outlets; their transport, souped-up cars; their pleasures, frozen cocktails and the warm comfort of tanning booths; at home, they seek edification through Jim and Tammy Bakker's televangelistic PTL ministry, Kenny Rogers, TV soaps and game shows. A recurrent theme is the difficulty of settling for a single direction in life, relinquishing youth's sense of infinite possibilities, as the author observes her characters botching their lives and failing to adjust to changed circumstances. Mason's talent for conjuring up the material fabric of rural America may at times seem a substitute for deeper understanding, yet her point seems to be that these improvised lives lack self-perspective, submerged as they are in their immediate physical surroundings and day-to-day pleasures. These stories first appeared in the New Yorker , Atlantic Monthly and other magazines. (Mar.)
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