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Clear Springs: A Memoir
BOBBIE ANN MASON

Clear Springs: A Memoir by Bobbie Ann Mason
19 reviews (1999) (296p)
Pulitzer Prize for Biography Finalist

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Book Description
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.


Amazon.com Review
Bobbie Ann Mason's marvelously tactile and textured memoir has the same blunt yet supple prose that distinguishes her novels In Country and Feather Crowns. Examining her roots in rural Kentucky, where she was born in 1940, Mason unravels her family's history and considers its impact on her as a person and a writer. Readers of the New Yorker will recognize a few excerpts, most notably the magical chapter on a local pop group in particular, and the siren song of rock & roll in general. Mason has woven the pieces of her story into a seamless whole limning her ambivalent relationship to her country roots. She was a bookish girl who fled to college and the sophisticated North before realizing that her fictional material and her heart were still down South. But when she bought land in Kentucky, it was "a long way from [home]. I had to keep some distance, keep my options open." Although her immediate family members all get loving, unsentimental treatment, the book is in essence a tribute to Mason's mother, whose free spirit never had a chance to roam as her daughter's did and who grabs center stage in the final chapter. This memoir is quintessential Mason in its strong storytelling, seeming simplicity, and deep mystery. --Wendy Smith


Other Award Winning Books by Bobbie Ann Mason
Feather Crowns by Bobbie Ann Mason
13 reviews (1993) (464p) (NBCCA)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
Shiloh and Other Stories by Bobbie Ann Mason
7 reviews (1982) (256p) (NBCCA) (NBA) (PF)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page

Bobbie Ann Mason Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 5  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 3  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 1 Clear Springs: A Memoir ·  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 2 Feather Crowns · Shiloh and Other Stories ·  
National Book Award Wins 0  
National Book Award Nominations 1 Shiloh and Other Stories ·  
Man Booker Prize Wins 0  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 1 Shiloh and Other Stories ·  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award

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Pulitzer Prize | National Book Critics Circle Award | National Book Award | PEN/Faulkner Award | Man Booker Prize | Contact