Clear Springs: A Memoir


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Clear Springs : a memoir, Bobbie Ann Mason

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I enjoyed it. Mason and I are about the same age and I grew up in the hills of southern Indiana and knew some of the same sorts of people as she knew. Perhaps the closest I came was a hillbilly uncle who lived in eastern Kentucky. I always enjoyed visiting there though we were regarded as being city folk since we lived at the edge of a small town rather than truly in the country.

But during those visits we shelled corn, rode a hog, used an outhouse or chamber pot and slept under a tin roof during thunderstorms.


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But that has nothing to do with the book does it, other than the fact that this shared history may have made the book more real and alive to me. Mason's family, especially her mother, are the stars here and we get to know them well.

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My only quibble would be that there's some feeling of repetition and at times it takes a bit too long to get to the points being made. But it's a fine piece of writing. December 4, - Published on Amazon. Wonderful read! I was raised in a small down 20 miles west of Paducah and have been through Mayfield numerous times on my way to Kentucky Lake and later, driving to Murray State University. I was a town girl but I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandmother in the Ozarks where the way of life was so much like in the book. She weaves the memories from herself and her family into what seems to be a book of short stories but with a strong connection.

Her style is more than easy to read, just beautiful weaving of words. I plan to read more of her work. I moved away just a few months before. May 2, - Published on Amazon. Having Popcorn popped for a snack once a week was about as much fun as we had. April 7, - Published on Amazon. Sweet, funny family story, with the history of the upper South running through it. One of the many pleasures in Clear Springs is Mason's inclusion of snippets of the first stories she wrote, youthful imitations of the girls' detective stories she so loved, which later resulted in her charming and recently reissued book The Girl Sleuths.

Considering her scholarly interests, evident in her book on Nabokov's nature imagery, Mason's style is surprisingly straightforward, never tricksy, seldom particularly allusive. But like Nabokov in his own autobiography, she approaches facts with the tools of an artist: "It's awfully hard working with facts -- or even what you remember as facts.

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I had so much trouble writing this book because I had to be faithful to what I knew to be fact, and yet I was trying to write something that in many ways was like fiction. But I couldn't just haul off and make up things.

Like most memoirs, Clear Springs returns again and again to the question of the accuracy and potency of memories. And finally there are a lot of things you remember that you can't prove really happened, and there are a lot of things you don't remember that did happen. Out of her memories Mason brings to life the finely graded social distinctions which would be invisible to outsiders, but which anchor and define the members of a group, like the hierarchies in the world of Proust or Tolstoy.

For example, Mason's father treated her mother like a country girl, and his family made her feel inferior because she married slightly above her station. To the question of what's next for Bobbie Ann Mason, she gives some thought and responds slowly.

Clear Springs: A Memoir [Hardcover] by Mason, Bobbie Ann

I don't know what that will be. Well, I want to write short stories. I don't know what they'll be like, but I think they'll be different. Clear Springs ends in October of , with a masterful chapter in which Mason herself does not appear.

Clear Springs: A Memoir [Hardcover] by Mason, Bobbie Ann – Bokonon Books

With all of her novelist's talents she recreates an event her mother described to her, in which the elderly woman falls into a pond while trying to catch a fish. It's a simple scene, barely an anecdote, that Mason somehow leaves resonating with significance and passion -- and, quietly, implicitly, with her profound love for her mother.

Clear Springs 2013 Ceremony

There's a fine moment in Clear Springs when Mason and her young husband begin their first garden. It nicely sums up her tone and symbolism in this book: "When I plunged my hands into the black New England soil, I felt I was touching a rich nourishment that I hadn't had since I was a small child. It had been years since I helped Mama in the garden. Yet the feel of dirt seemed so familiar. This was real. It was true. I wheeled around and faced home.


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