Lee K. Abbott

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Lee Kittredge Abbott (born 1947) is an American writer. He is the author of seven collections of short stories and is a professor emeritus of English at the Ohio State University in Columbus.


Abbott was born October 17, 1947 in the Panama Canal Zone. His father, a Colonel in the Army, at last settled his family in Las Cruces, New Mexico.[1] The stark desert landscape would become very important in Abbott's fiction.[2]

Abbott received bachelor's and master's degrees from New Mexico State University. After studying at Columbia College, he earned his Master's of Fine Arts from the University of Arkansas in 1977. In addition to lecturing on the art of fiction writing, Abbott has taught at several colleges, starting as an assistant professor of English at Case Western Reserve University in 1977. At CWRU, he earned tenure and was promoted to associate professor in 1983, then full professor in 1987, and in 1988 was named The Samuel B. & Virginia C. Knight Professor of Humanities. He took several leaves to teach elsewhere, including Colorado College (1984), Washington University (Spring 1985), and Rice University (Spring 1988.)[3] In 1989 he became a professor of English at Ohio State University, where he taught until his retirement in 2012. In 2007 OSU promoted him to Humanities Distinguished Professor.[4] He has also taught as a writer in residence or visiting faculty at Wichita State University, Southwest Texas State University, Yale University, Antioch College, Old Dominion University, Miami University, and the University of Michigan. Known as a dynamic and engaging teacher, students gave him consistently good reviews.[5] After retiring to his native New Mexico, he was named Distinguished Visiting Professor within the English Department of his alma mater, New Mexico State University.[6]

His many short stories and reviews, as well as articles on American Literature and popular culture, have appeared in such journals and magazines as Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, The Georgia Review, The New York Times Book Review, The Southern Review, Epoch, Boulevard, Crawdaddy, and The North American Review. His fiction has been often reprinted in The Best American Short Stories and The Prize Stories: The O'Henry Awards. He has twice won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was awarded a Major Artist Fellowship from the Ohio Arts Council in 1991. He was also recipient of the 2004 Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award.[7] His latest collection of stories, All Things, All at Once: New & Selected Stories, was published by Norton in June 2006. Lee was married to Pamela Jo (Dennis) Abbott, who died of cancer in 2014. His current wife is Natalie (Walston) Abbott, a writer and public relations professional. The two were married on November 25, 2017. Lee has two sons with Pamela: Kelly and Noel and multiple grandchildren. Natalie has one son, Tyler Walston, who lives in Denver.


Although he has made occasional attempts at novel writing, Abbott has devoted himself almost exclusively to the craft of the short story. Character development is particularly important to Abbott. To him, "character is what we are in the dark." [8]

Abbott's many influences include R.V. Cassill.[9] Although Abbott arrived on the fiction scene during a time when minimalism was in fashion, critic William Giraldi said of Abbott's debut, The Heart Never Fits Its Wanting is an orgy of style, one that performs the magic trick of being at once inebriated and exact—his narrators akin to world-class drinkers who can down a fifth of Jim Beam and still stand straight."[10]




  • The Heart Never Fits Its Wanting: Stories (1980)
  • Love is the Crooked Thing (1986)
  • Strangers in Paradise (1986)
  • Dreams of Distant Lives (1990)
  • Living After Midnight (1991)
  • Wet Places at Noon (1997)
  • All Things, All at Once: New and Selected Stories (2006)


  • One of Star Wars, One of Doom (2007)

Contributions to other collections[edit]

  • The Putt at the End of the World (Chapter Four: "Never Up, Never In") (2001)
  • Scoring from Second: Writers on Baseball (Foreword) (2007)
  • The Company of Dogs ("Where is Garland Steeples Now?") (1990)
  • The Grateful Dead Reader ("Dead Reckoning and Hamburger Metaphysics") (2000)


  1. ^ "Conversations with Lee K. Abbott: an Interview". Findarticles.com. 1947-10-17. Retrieved 2011-09-20.
  2. ^ http://archive.harpers.org/1986/08/pdf/HarpersMagazine-1986-08-0076564.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJXATU3VRJAAA66RA&Expires=1409673941&Signature=uMJBpvGg2P2wRmkyAmLHxH3XOIQ%3D[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Lee K. Abbott". Clevelandartsprize.org. Retrieved 2011-09-20.
  4. ^ "COH People". People.cohums.ohio-state.edu. Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2011-09-20.
  5. ^ "Lee Abbott -- Ohio State University". Retrieved 2013-04-25.
  6. ^ "Faculty - Department of English - New Mexico State University". Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  7. ^ "Recognizing Excellence at Ohio State". Osu.edu. Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2011-09-20.
  8. ^ "Facts & Fiction - 98.02". Theatlantic.com. 1998-02-12. Retrieved 2011-09-20.
  9. ^ "2002 interview with Abbott".[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Next Stop Abbottland: The Stories of Lee K. Abbott, an excerpt from The Georgia Review" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-07-16.

External links[edit]