Barry Hannah

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Barry Hannah
Born (1942-04-23)April 23, 1942
Meridian, Mississippi, United States
Died March 1, 2010(2010-03-01) (aged 67)
Oxford, Mississippi, United States
Occupation short story writer, novelist, professor
Period 1965–2010
Genre short story, novel

Howard Barry Hannah (April 23, 1942 – March 1, 2010) was an American novelist and short story writer from Mississippi.[1][2] Hannah was born in Meridian, Mississippi, on April 23, 1942, and grew up in Clinton, Mississippi. He wrote eight novels and five short story collections.[3]

His first novel, Geronimo Rex (1972), was nominated for the National Book Award. Airships, his 1978 collection of short stories about the Vietnam War, the American Civil War, and the modern South, won the Arnold Gingrich Short Fiction Award. The following year, Hannah received the prestigious Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Hannah won a Guggenheim, the Robert Penn Warren Lifetime Achievement Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for excellence in the art of the short story.[3]

He was awarded the Fiction Prize of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters twice and received Mississippi's prestigious Governor's Award in 1989 for distinguished representation of the state of Mississippi in artistic and cultural matters. For a brief time Hannah lived in Los Angeles and worked as a writer for the film director Robert Altman.[2] He was director of the MFA program at the University of Mississippi, in Oxford, where he taught creative writing for 28 years. He died on March 1, 2010, of a heart attack.[4]

Early life[edit]

Hannah was born in Meridian, Mississippi, on April 23, 1942, and grew up in Clinton, Mississippi.[5]

Education[edit]

At Mississippi College, Hannah majored in pre-med but later switched to literature.[6] He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Mississippi College in Clinton in 1964.[5] He spent the next three years at the University of Arkansas, where he earned a Master of Arts in 1966 and a Master of Fine Arts in 1967.[5]

Writing[edit]

Barry Hannah's fictions contain situational humor that spans a wide gamut, from the Surreal humour to the grotesque and black humor.[7] His first publication was a story that was placed in a national anthology of the best college writing when he was a student at the University of Arkansas. Soon after this, Hannah says he wrote his first truly good story, "Mother Rooney Unscrolls the Hurt,":

And then I wrote my first truly good story, "Mother Rooney Unscrolls the Hurt," which was a piece of my then-forthcoming book, Geronimo Rex. I was about twenty-three. It really lit up for me, I thought. I don't really care what folks think of it now, but "Mother Rooney" was a springboard to the rest of my creative life.[8]

Hannah's first novel, the grotesque coming-of-age tale Geronimo Rex (1972), was nominated for the National Book Award.[4] Nightwatchmen (1973), his second novel, was a difficult book, and it is his only work never reissued in paperback.[9] Hannah returned to form, however, with the short-story collection Airships (1978). Most of the stories in the volume were first published in Esquire magazine by its fiction editor at the time, Gordon Lish.[5] The short novel Ray (1980) was a critical success and a minor breakthrough for Hannah, and it is considered one of his best known novels.[10]

After the grotesque Western pastiche Never Die (1991),[11] Hannah stuck to the short story form for the rest of the decade, first with the immense Bats Out of Hell (1993), which featured twenty-three stories over close to four hundred pages, making it Hannah's longest book, and then with High Lonesome (1996), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.[2] After a near-fatal bout with non-Hodgkin lymphoma,[12] Hannah returned in 2001 with Yonder Stands Your Orphan (the title is taken from Bob Dylan's song "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue"), his longest novel since Geronimo Rex. In this novel, Hannah returned to a small community north of Vicksburg and to some of the characters featured in stories from Airships and Bats Out of Hell.[13][14]

Hannah finished a new novel, which underwent several title changes. In a 2003 interview with the Austin Chronicle, Hannah declared the novel to be called Last Days. A 2005 interview with Hannah in The Paris Review featured a manuscript page from the then-titled Long, Last, Happy.[citation needed] However, a 2009 issue of the literary journal Gulf Coast featured an excerpt from the novel, then titled Sick Soldier at Your Door.[15] The same excerpt was printed in the June 2009 issue of Harper's Magazine.[16] A subsequent interview with Tom Franklin in the Summer 2009 issue of Tin House revealed that Sick Soldier at Your Door had been reconceptualized as a collection of short stories.[17] The stories were published in November 2011 by Grove Press under the title Long, Last, Happy: New and Selected Stories[18]

Teaching[edit]

Hannah taught creative writing at the Iowa Writers' Workshop,[19] Clemson University, Middlebury College, the University of Alabama, Texas State University, and the University of Montana - Missoula.[5][20][21] Hannah was a frequent visiting writer at the summer creative writing seminars at Sewanee.[22]

Hannah was the director of the M.F.A. program at the University of Mississippi, where he was known as a "generous mentor".[23] His students included Larry Brown, John Oliver Hodges, Bob Shacochis, Donna Tartt and Wells Tower.[5][23]

Death[edit]

Hannah died of a heart attack[24] in Oxford, Mississippi on March 1, 2010 at the age of 67.[4] His death was just days before the 17th annual Oxford Conference for the Book, held in his hometown. Hannah and his work were the focus of that year’s conference.[3]

Publications[edit]

Novels[edit]

  • Geronimo Rex (1972)
  • Nightwatchmen (1973)
  • Ray (1980)
  • The Tennis Handsome (1983)
  • Hey Jack! (1987)
  • Boomerang (1989)
  • Never Die (1991)
  • Yonder Stands Your Orphan (2001)

Story collections[edit]

  • Airships (1978)
  • Captain Maximus (1985)
  • Bats out of Hell (1993)
  • High Lonesome (1996)
  • Long, Last, Happy: New and Selected Stories (Nov. 2010)

Essays[edit]

  • "Memories of Tennessee Williams," Mississippi Review, Vol. 48, 1995.
  • "Introduction" The Book of Mark, Pocket Canon, Grove-Atlantic, 1999.

Awards[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Obituary New York Times, March 3, 2010; page A27.
  2. ^ a b c Kellogg, Carolyn. (March 2, 2010). "Author Barry Hannah, 67, has died", LA Times. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Oxford Conference for the Book
  4. ^ a b c Pettus, Emily Wagster. (March 2, 2010). "Author Barry Hannah dies at 67 in Mississippi", Associated Press. The Guardian. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Grimes, William. (March 3, 2010). "Barry Hannah, Darkly Comic Writer, Dies at 67". The New York Times. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
  6. ^ Smith, Kayla. (April 23, 2013). "Have You Heard of Barry Hannah?". Deep South Magazine. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
  7. ^ Weston, Ruth D. (1998) Barry Hannah: Postmodern Romantic p.106 quote: "The complex nature of Barry Hannah's humor has deeb roots in these American literary traditions, to which he brings his unique comic vision. the situational humor in his fiction, which runs the gamut from slapstick burlesque to parody and the absurd and from the malappropriate to the Gothic grotesque and macabre, [...]"
  8. ^ Barry Hannah 1942-2010 from the website of Oxford American: The Southern Magazine of Good Writing
  9. ^ Wright, Snowden. (April 10, 2013). "Barry Hannah's "Lost" Novel". The Millions. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  10. ^ Ellis, Lee. (March 3, 2010). "Sabers, Gentlemen: Remembering Barry Hannah". The New Yorker. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  11. ^ Turner, Daniel. (2012). Southern Crossings: Poetry, Memory, and the Transcultural South. University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 9781572338944. p202.
  12. ^ Howorth, Richard. (March 15, 2010). "Barry Hannah", Time Magazine. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  13. ^ Bernstein, Richard. (July 10, 2001). "Books of the Times; Giving In to the Urge To Do Bad in the South", The New York Times. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  14. ^ Bjerre, Thomas. (2007). "Heroism and the Changing Face of American Manhood in Barry Hannah's Fiction" in Bone, Martin (ed) Perspectives on Barry Hannah. University Press of Mississippi, ISBN 9781578069194. p60.
  15. ^ Hannah, Barry. (2009). "An excerpt from Sick Soldier at Your Door". Gulf Coast. 21:1. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  16. ^ Hannah, Barry. (2009). "Sick soldier at your door". Harper's Magazine. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  17. ^ Franklin, Tim. (March 2, 2010). "Barry Hannah, 1942-2010". Tin House. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  18. ^ "Barry Hannah: Long, Last, Happy: New and Selected Stories". Grove Atlantic. June 8, 2010. Archived from the original on 15 June 2010. Retrieved June 8, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Faculty", Iowa Writers' Workshop, University of Iowa. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
  20. ^ Cobb, Mark Hughes. (September 25, 2008). "Noted writer Barry Hannah returns to UA", The Tuscaloosa News. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
  21. ^ Wilkes, Byron. (March 7, 2010). "Hannah and his works will long be remembered". The Meridian Star. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
  22. ^ "Barry Hannah (1942-2010)", Sewanee Writers' Conference. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
  23. ^ a b Steelman, Ben. (March 2, 2010). "Barry Hannah, R.I.P.". Star-News. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
  24. ^ "Barry Hannah: A Southern Literary Force Dies At 67". National Public Radio. March 4, 2010. Archived from the original on 7 March 2010. Retrieved March 4, 2010. 

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