cover image Nancy Culpepper: Stories

Nancy Culpepper: Stories

Bobbie Ann Mason, . . Random, $22.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-375-50718-2

A somber, slow-going drama in stories by award-winning author Mason (An Atomic Romance ) follows a Kentucky farm family's quiet changes over the decades. When the first story begins in 1980, Nancy, the elder daughter of the Culpepper family, is in her late 30s, has an eight-year-old son with husband Jack Cleveland (a Yankee) and lives outside Philadelphia. Returning to the family farm to help her parents, Lila and Spence, move Granny into a nursing home, Nancy concerns herself with old photographs buried in Granny's house that feature Nancy's namesake, a long-lost aunt whom no one seems to know anything about. Subsequent stories deal with Granny's death, the decline and death of Jack's dog, the building tension between Nancy and Jack—both yearning for the spontaneity of their swinging '60s courtship—and the fate of the Culpepper farm. In the longest story, Lila is diagnosed with breast cancer, undergoes surgery and is lovingly nursed by Spence, Nancy and her sister, Cat. Though detailed and honest in its depiction of illness and loss and skillful in handling Nancy's lingering discomfort with the North, Mason's novel-in-stories lacks her usual sparkle. (July)