BOOKS: The Common Pasture (New York: Macmillan, 1967); An American Marriage (New York: Macmillan, 1969); Palace of Strangers (New York: World, 1971); Last Stands: Notesfrom Memory (Boston: Godine, 1982); Clemmons (Boston: Godine, 1985); Hammertown Tales (Winston-Salem, N.C.: S. Wright, 1986); Cooper (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987); Manuscript for Murder, as P. J. Coyne (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1987); Strickland (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989); Success: New and Selected Short Stories (New York: St. Mar¬ tin's Press, 1992); Home Is the Exile (Sag Harbor, N.Y.: Permanent, 1996); In Montaigne's Tower (Columbia 8c London: University of Missouri Press, 2000). OTHER: "Joyce Carol Oates" and "Ann Beattie," in The Brand-X Anthology of Fiction, edited by William Zaranka (Cambridge, Mass.: Apple-Wood Books, 1983), pp. 325-326, 327-328; Wayne Dodd, ed., Ohio Review Anthology, includes a con¬ tribution by Masters (Athens: Ohio Review, 1983); Lee Gutkind, ed., The Essayist at Work: Profiles of Creative Nonjiction Writers, includes a contribution by Mas¬ ters (Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 1998). SELECTED PERIODICAL PUBLICATION- UNCOLLECTED: "Italian Grammar," Virginia Quar¬ terly Review, 74 (Spring 1998): 234-250; "Shoe Polish," Virginia Quarterly Review, 76 (Summer 2000): 500-512. Best known for his highly acclaimed autobio¬ graphical work, Last Stands: Notes from Memory (1982), Hilary Masters is an accomplished novelist, essayist, short-story writer, and memoirist. A realist and a regionalist, Masters follows in the tradition of other American realists such as Peter Taylor, Sherwood V V Hilary Masters (photograph by Maurice Tierney;Jrom the dust jacket for Success, 1992) Anderson, and his own father, Edgar Lee Masters. His two collections of short stories, Hammertown Tales (1986) and Success: New and Selected Short Stories (1992), as well as his other short fiction, reiterate the themes and tech¬ niques often appearing in his longer works. Much of his work is filled with characters longing to recapture lost memories, dealing with relationships, and finding clo¬ sure by examining their ideals and accepting their situa¬ tions. Characters, rather than plot, are often the focus of his work. Masters weaves compelling stories and situ¬ ations into ordinary settings with which his readers can identify. "It seems a sorrowful mystery," wrote Susan Dodd in Harvard Review (June 1992), "that a writer of such magnanimous gifts should remain known by so few." She continued, "For decades Hilary Masters has been writing some of the most elegant, intelligent, and inventive prose in American literature." Masters has received recognition more often for his nonfiction work. The title essay for the collection In Montaigne's Tower (2000) was included in Phillip Lopate's The Anchor Essay Annual: The Best of 1998. A second essay from In Montaigne's Tower, "Making It Up," appears in The Best American Essays of 1999, edited by Edward Hoagland. Both originally appeared in the Ohio Review in 1997. Finally, another essay from In Montaigne's Tower, "Going to Cuba," was given the Monroe Spears Award as the best essay to appear in the Sewanee Review in 1997. Masters's short stories have also received hon¬ orable mention in Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize. "The Italian Grammar," published in the Spring 1998 Virginia Quarterly Review, received the 1998 Balch Prize. Son of poet Edgar Lee Masters, the author of Spoon River Anthology (1916), and Ellen Frances (Coyne) Masters, Hilary Thomas Masters was born on 3 Febru¬ ary 1928 in Kansas City, Missouri. The only child of his father's second marriage, Masters spent much of his childhood (until the age of fourteen) in Kansas City at his maternal grandparents' house, while his parents lived in New York City, his father writing and his mother pursuing a master's degree in teaching from Columbia University. Masters usually spent summers with his parents in New York City, returning to Kansas City for school in the fall. He wrote about these years in his most acclaimed work, the autobiographical Last Stands, in which he remembers life as the son of a famous writer and the grandson of Irish immigrant Thomas Coyne, a United States Cavalry trooper in the Indian Wars. Masters attended Davidson College from 1944 to 1946, interrupting his education to serve in the military as a correspondent in the United States Navy from 1946 to 1947. He returned stateside in 1948 and began attending Brown University, where he graduated with a B.A. in 1952. His first marriage, to Robin Owett Watt in 1954, ended with divorce. His marriage to Polly Jo McCulloch on 5 March 1955 also ended with divorce, in 1986. On 7 June 1994 Masters married Kathleen E. George, also a short-story writer and a drama professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Masters has three chil¬ dren: Joellen, Catherine, and John D. C. Masters has had a varied career. From 1953 to 1956 he was a theatrical agent in New York. In 1956 he founded The Hyde Park Record and worked as an editor there until 1959. He has contributed short fiction and essays to Greensboro Review, Kenyon Review, Massachusetts Review, Michigan Quarterly, Ohio Review, Prairie Schooner, Sports Illustrated, Texas Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review. Besides writing, Masters is also a professional photographer. Masters has been a visiting scholar at Drake University (1975-1977), Clark University (1978), Ohio University (1979), and a Fulbright scholar in Finland (1983). In 1980 and in 1982 he was granted fellowships to Yaddo, an artists' community in Saratoga Springs, New York. Since 1983 Masters has been a pro¬ fessor of English and creative writing at Carnegie Mel¬ lon University. "My working experiences as a journalist, a Broadway press agent, and even some his¬ tory in politics, have all found places in my writing," wrote Masters for the Carnegie Mellon English faculty website, adding, "My work sounds themes of abandon¬ ment-all kinds of abandonment, physical, spiritual and moral-while it represents men and women caught in the socio-political fabric of America." Hammertown Tales (1986), which received mixed reviews, is Masters's first short-story collection, com¬ prised of fourteen tales set in the fictitious New York village of Hammertown. The stories in this volume depict the characteristics of modern American region¬ alism. They portray life in a small American town, explore relationships, and examine the search to fill voids caused by deaths or empty relationships. Draw¬ ing the substance for his stories from everyday situa¬ tions and dilemmas, Masters rarely strays from the principles of realism. Carol Ames, in The New York Times Book Review (20 April 1986), praised Hammertown Tales as a "book of fine stories" but concluded that the collection is "not Hilary Masters' best," citing his better-known Last Stands as an example of his best work. The short stories share themes and stylistic qualities with Last Stands, invoking a reminiscent portrait of America, which perhaps inspired Ames to compare the works. In contrast to Ames's review, Stuart Wright in The Kirkus Review (15 December 1985) wrote that Hammer¬ town Tales is "graceful, thoughtful work from an accomplished stylist, one with a fine sense of the sor¬ rows of a disappearing America." "The Foundation," a representative story from Hammertown Tales, was first published in the Winter 1979 issue of The Ohio Review. The story begins with a couple searching for a house foundation near some property they once owned. Trying to recapture memories, the woman is at first insistent on finding the architectural remains, while the man seems somewhat apathetic. They search through abandoned orchards for the foun¬ dation, where they wish to picnic. The tension between the two builds as they search. Finally defeated, the cou¬ ple agrees to picnic by an old ruin of a wall, and as they sit, their conversation turns to an Emily Dickinson • i iirnvi V .v '> — < £ H PI 2 m i HILARY MASTERS Hammertown Tales HILARY MASTERS ISBN: 0-MS77S-I8S sw Dust jacket for Masters's 1986 book, stories set in afictional village in the dairy region of upstate New York poem, relaxing the tension between them. The man begins to arrange the stones from the ruined wall into the shape of a foundation. The woman's response—and the last words of the story—as her companion arranges the rocks, confirm that the lost foundation was not what the couple needed to rekindle their memories, after all. In response to the rebuilding of the foundation, the woman says, '"Oh, don't be silly.' She flushed, but her tone was not angry. 'Come, open the wine.'" While Masters usually avoids the use of symbolism, depend¬ ing more on imagery, this story treats the foundation as not only a place from the couple's past but also a sym¬ bol of the foundation of their relationship. Nonetheless, the story abides by the other principles and characteris¬ tics of realistic writing, especially the in-depth examina¬ tion of everyday circumstances and characters. The main character in "How the Indians Buried Their Dead," first published in The Georgia Review (Win¬ ter 1980) and included in Hammertown Tales, also attempts to reconnect with his past when he returns to his hometown to attend a conference after years of absence. Masters's use of imagery evokes nostalgia, per¬ haps prompting George Garrett, in the introduction to Success, in which "How the Indians Buried Their Dead" also is collected, to note: "these stories might conceiv¬ ably be called old fashioned." For example, looking down into the city from the new, modern hotel that houses the conference, the main character "can feel and smell the heat out there, like the memory of an old blanket in a summer attic." The unnamed character searches his memory for details about an old man who lived with his family and told him stories about Indians when he was young. Curiosity compels the narrator to take a taxi to his former residence to search for clues about the old man. Things have changed. The cab driver, not wishing to enter the neighborhood, leaves him to walk the last stretch, warning, "whatever your business is, make it quick. That's my advice. Get out before it gets really dark." The man finds his childhood house and, denied entry, talks with (or rather to) the current resident through the screen door. Ultimately, the man turns back toward the modern hotel, which he sees on the city skyline "like a great rocket ship preparing to ignite its engines, preparing to pull itself up through the heavy clouds and leave all this behind. He would have to hurry." Similar to "The Foundation," "How the Indians Buried Their Dead" concludes with the protagonist accepting that the past cannot always be recovered. Written in the first person, "Buster's Hand" relates the story of Mr. Sloan's attempt to plan a bicen¬ tennial celebration for Hammertown. The unnamed narrator, a native Hammertownian, views Mr. Sloan as an "outsider," sincerely interested in recording and pre¬ serving the history of the town but unable to fit in. To set the scene, the narrator points out that "number one, the people on this Historical Committee and especially Mr. Sloan, its chairman, don't know very much about the history of this place and, number two, there isn't an awful lot of history to know." Filled with local color, the narration often diverts to anecdotes about Hammertown people, such as Annie Hoystradt, freezing while doing her chores, or Mrs. Sloan, who "had taken to wearing sun-bonnets in fair weather, like what women used to wear around here forty or fifty years ago." For the celebration Mr. Sloan plans to record Aunt Sally's "oral history" of the rail¬ road and the story of Buster Ames, her husband, who was the engineer on the Poughkeepsie and Pittsfield before burning his hand off in a railroad accident. Fore¬ shadowing the impending failure of this plan, the narra¬ tor comments, "Aunt Sally don't always remember things clear, you know.. . . She makes a lot up. It was a long time ago, anyway." When Mr. Sloan finally records Aunt Sally, rather than recounting the history of the railroad, she only rants and curses about Buster being cheated out of a pension. Mr. Sloan's effort to record the past results in bitterness for Mrs. Ames and utter failure for his project. Similarly, "FDR Spoke Here" recollects the his¬ tory of Hammertown from a first-person perspective. The narrator, a Hammertown native, again unnamed, begins: Some folks say they can remember young Franklin Roosevelt making that speech on the steps of Benschoten's Store when he ran for the State Senate. More likely, they heard about it from some older relative just as Florence Benschoten had heard about it from her hus¬ band, Tad-she didn't marry him and move to Hammertown until 1930-and he had heard it only described by his parents who had been there. Despite a lack of official records indicating that Roosevelt had indeed made such a speech on the steps of the store, and the lack of actual eyewitnesses, the County Historical Society places a marker at the site of the reputed speech. The narrator recounts the history of the spot, mentioning the Pittsfield and Poughkeepsie trains, which quit stopping at Benschoten's Store after milk was delivered by truck, and how an interstate was built around Hammertown, diverting the travelers who used to makes stops at the store. Because of the local changes, the store shuts down; the owner auctions off the supplies; and the FDR plaque turns up missing. Some young people eventually buy and renovate the store but do not succeed in selling their health food. The store is sold again, burned down, and mobile homes are moved in the lot. The original owner of the store dies, and finally the person accused of stealing the original plaque makes plans to have a marker put on the interstate saying "you are passing Hammertown, where FDR made his first speech." The bittersweet nos¬ talgia that the current residents of the evolving Ham¬ mertown indulge in again establishes the theme of coming to terms with the past. "The Sound of Pines" commences in a police car with two officers and a prisoner picked up for vagrancy and hitchhiking. One of the officers tries to persuade the unidentified prisoner to tell them who he is. Chat¬ ting throughout the journey about dairy land, the orange juice they stop for, and anything else, the officer finally persuades the prisoner to open up. The prisoner is going to California to plant trees in exchange for a long-term lease on the land from the state. The officer begins to warm up a little, but it is not clear whether he is being sarcastic or not until the prisoner mentions that he may have goats on his land: '"Well, that hangs it up,' the round policeman says. 'That really hangs it up. Here we are in the prime dairy land of the state, genera¬ tions of the greatest Holsteins and this yo-yo talks about goats'" The amiable break ends; the prisoner is shuf¬ fled back into the police car; and they continue the jour¬ ney. The realistic conveyance of an everyday experience provides depth to the overall picture of Hammertown. "Sam Rudder's Cottage" begins with a man tak¬ ing a woman to her uncle Sam's cottage after Sam has passed away. Some hunters are interested in buying the cottage, and the unnamed niece is making up her mind what to do with it. The cottage has been locked up for about three years, and upon opening the door, the nar¬ rator and Sam's niece find stacks of magazines against the doors and all the windows locked from the inside. The niece finds a contraption on one of the windows that automatically locks when it is shut, and they sur¬ mise that Sam had done these things so he would know if there were intruders. The niece reminisces about childhood visits to the cabin, and they leave. After they depart, the niece makes an excuse to go back and returns with a cut on her knee-indicating that she had returned, stacked the magazines up against the door again, and climbed out of the automatically locking window. The hunters later attempt to bribe the narrator to let them use the cottage without telling Sam's niece, and the narrator closes the story thus: "I tell them that, not counting the sheriff's deputies, people sometimes have a way of finding out if their property's been trespassed, and I advise them, in a friendly way, not to try it." Because the short stories are tied together by their setting, Masters is able to provide a sweeping view of Hammertown from various angles. Masters avoids omniscient narration; he tells each story from a differ¬ ent, singular viewpoint, thus providing a broad perspec¬ tive of Hammertown. With each story, the various levels of reality within Hammertown are added. Success: Mew and Selected, Short Stories (1992), Mas- ters's second collection of short fiction, comprises six¬ teen tales, most of which had been published first in literary magazines, and some, including the tide piece and "Grace Peck's Dog," that were republished from Hammertown Tales. Unlike Hammertown Tales, these stories do not share a commonality in plot or setting, but they all touch on similar themes and share the style inherent in most of Masters's work. Characters dealing with abandonment and/or relationships, searching for mean¬ ing and lost memories, fill the pages of this collection. Masters seems more willing to experiment in these sto¬ ries, moving from the strict regionalism of Hammer¬ town and exploring new settings, one as far away as Italy, while using different techniques, such as stream of consciousness. The main character in "The Moving Finger" calls a former girlfriend in Chicago while on a layover at O'Hare. As in many of his other stories, Masters intro¬ duces a character trying to reconnect with his past, and like many of those stories, "The Moving Finger" ends with the character's understanding that what he is look¬ ing for cannot be found in the past. The phone call, rather than affirming his fond memories of Cindy, reminds him of her annoying compulsions and delu¬ sions. She criticizes the decisions he has made, rattles off conspiracy theories about the John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations, and ultimately loses her temper, hanging up on him. During his flight the character realizes that "he had been looking for some kind of fulcrum in Chicago in which to balance all this travel. He would have to look for it elsewhere, perhaps in a place so familiar that the location is temporarily out of mind." The character does not yet know what the fulcrum of his trip, or his life, is. He recognizes, however, the importance of pur¬ suing the present and future rather than dwelling in the past. The moral, as it were, of the story is summarized in his quotation from Omar Khayyam: "The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on." Typically in Masters's works, the characters examine their longings and discover that what they are looking for cannot be found in the past. Many other stories in the collection center on characters trying not to reconnect with their history, but simply to reconcile with it, sometimes feeling aban¬ doned by deceased loved ones, at other times trying to recapture an old feeling or relationship. As Dodd put it in her Harvard Review article, "Hilary Masters writes, always, of place and memory, of time and change. His homeground is the rocky yet fertile soil of human con¬ nection and the soul's persistent striving toward it." In "Ohm's Law" a widow sorts through her hus¬ band's papers. The story is told by her son, who describes the papers as "the last threads of personal his¬ tory" that form a "loom over which my mother passes, back and forth, and year after year, not in anticipation of her husband's return but to unravel the thread of his complete disappearance." Masters balances the relation¬ ship between the widow and her husband (a hydroelec¬ tric engineer) with that of the widow's son, a teacher, and his lover, a student. Relationships like these— between student and teacher, older man and younger woman—fill Masters's work. One of his novels, An American Marriage (1969), many of his short stories, and even his autobiography deal with similar relationships. Certainly his parents' relationship, with his father nearly thirty years older than his mother, influenced Masters in his writing. In "Ohm's Law" the woman reaches closure by passing the task of sorting through the papers to her son, the narrator. The reader must decide if her son will continue her legacy. The plot of this short story, and the others, emphasizes normal daily experience, and privileges characters over plot. "Blues for Solitaire," written in the first person with a female narrator, shifts back and forth from the narrator's memories to the present. Written in stream of consciousness, the story jumps from the narrator's father complaining about his new apartment to a phone conversation with her boyfriend and thoughts about their relationship. Masters's use of this style amplifies her struggle with her separate roles: mother, president of a credit bureau, girlfriend, and daughter. The entire story takes place within the span of a solitaire game played by her father while she is on the phone. Her father eventually scrambles the deck to get the card he needs to win, and the narrator compares her relation¬ ship with her boyfriend to a solitaire game that gets played over and over, but without the right card ever coming up. She realizes that in their relationship, "all the time, I see something that's never played out if we go by the rules." Lurcuing back to Hunter on the crosstown busf I often imr Tnnptud fru ui'f> -» L. J , _ ■ ^ mA y-riij*r-tivtmtr4*rifvl* «. U*y *-«*<- douole tack i«=5wfa=aitdfer. ine risk of incurring my cuairuiaii'a aispltiasure .,7 only made ogc such an iiu impulse moie atti-active» put me in league with Sheliyy or dyxoij «e one of tnose Romantic types who were tinnrxiumri driven to°cfin?mi"'the }aix*o£jec?»hoi ^ueir obsession. nut auch j?inlr*r jiot in my n^tuie JUL my nature does not tfut my teitaper-BUl duta riot. rnqrire,iritT l, . ^ Baxt®y-tn—nre^ H«jH^ent, *» ^^«kj^ice'S voice ^SLiwj^ , -^rCjy oEtoV^Jir? uiln^'^l'm sorry not to meet you today," Bva saia^o^e morning, Jovj. Trio n*ratt flu lai Jiuvuhoim mm kiitili«grmk_a«miidinc .u*-xzrrm±~r'i-r- t;. ;■ fflnved t/jui Bum . "Man goin^; to Italy tomorrow una I imve to do some tilings." [l$pT>^ ^ ^ Z-^K ? ^ "Italy." ^ L.L "Kes, I'm really goin^," sue said. 1 ima0ihed her eyes criiiKling^upr^ o unijfe.' "ilome, " asuu she apfecified. "I tiiinlc 1 have a /LUid of job with a movie company^* ^ ^ «i- Sue was +e ya^ue aoout the job .in pun.UUUI! mil' f^imull wuu aao.inl. aflrr^nl i had isepi^^tir^mST^ropmiT-'at the he.ropolitan for aljuost a year, -teert^JthB—tone 5"^ ^ ;., ,..r o,-.iinri«wi as if she mm i Ti/ilAiWi«jT»tfiili[y i rinrnl 1 ii|_ a dentist's appoin tment. The mmkm tooth ache had^SuiwaolTCi^ujflJ"'^oeeiT^nen care of, and in a burst of anger jn^eh'^name's me 1 almost asked her if Kick Jones u££^SS-Oe »firlilm^iiiyniL;-ner. imfr; j&s we ialow^-irs'aiun' t, awl aa the . -- -•-- - —- J£Sfc,*-^fc- information aevelryd nvrr rhn yrrirn, wri iniew I rut j,Va i*a0fxa* nriT riff! fn r ,ran aiimraced mfe^Tnn li-L.i i iNimm. ***■ I mfli fin !■■ ni It c~£*4- "Isn't this yourBva?" <iunice said one ounu^/ mornipg a vuile rack, jhe held out the Hew YorK limes magazine, open to an article on /^^"XCTOTTiSrtiiijj11 >iere— S fa^biZi /, *•**■$ *falL/ ^fevei-al pictures of MH*x£rr«Tfaxx tae uiovit airector^the largest anowifi? ^ sitting lookinj straight into the camera, his lined face viorant with genius, and standing nehina him, her anus draped lovirtTlv, around uis snouluers was iiva. ^ /** At^uL w,y A- ^ *^v«-ir*?- +i30L*iJ "His iiiuse? SnU xxuxxuLvwha Auenicaii wife who produced ia Jorsetta, his first triumph.^^ifcto - into tne camera lens, ;uid the two figures resempled those imiuulii comfortably complacei.t couples found in clay on top of Utrascan tombs. She looked re.uariaoly yrw/cM tne same, tnat is not older — her aair still dark anu worn long and with . , . , , wiilull IVul bueuue-r^ereae, Dangs across ner lorenead aoove those rxz remancaole eyes, serene now and-jio a,orejunuuitaint^ ii tueir i,i»ga. where a 3ere..ity had replaced tnat uncertain gaze wnich I - LJj. Il-ll .1 ul ^nti-jir.wri i)«- "She must be fluent in Italian uy now, "Euncice ooserved. *' ^ ^cM. fU. Ut*t~^ " '~ ptc*ioc**{ te* Pagefrom the revised typescriptfor an early draft of '"the Italian Grammar, "published in the Spring 1998 issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review (Collection of Hilary Masters) Also first collected in Hammertown Tales, "Success," the title story, is narrated in first person. Similar to "Blues for Solitaire," the story jumps around in time and place within the narrator's thoughts, but the whole story takes place in a car ride with the narrator and his wife. Many of the narrator's thoughts are about his half brother, Will, who recendy died. His thoughts often jump suddenly to the present, where he and his wife, Sally, are waiting for a ferry, then back to his memories. He remembers Will talking about the ferry on the way back from their father's funeral. Some of the narrator's remembrances are of their father criticizing Will: '"why, he's a runt,' Dad had said. 'He always was a runt, men¬ tally and physically and morally. His mother spoiled him.'" His father favored the narrator because he liked the narrator's mother better than Will's mother. In the present, Sally says to her husband, "Are you going to turn mean like that? . . . Your father was an exceptional louse." His memories return to Will, on a ferry, talking about how their dad liked this side of the river for its atmosphere and how their father kept a ferry going so he could have the barbecue served there. He remembers eating ribs with Will, who talked about another time across the river with their dad and shared how jealous he was of "Sonny" (the narrator's nick¬ name). In the memory, the narrator returns to the other side of the river, and Will stays behind-it is the last time the narrator sees his brother, and he does not wave goodbye to him. The story concludes with Sally admonishing him, "You should have waved anyhow." The narrator is trying to reconcile his feelings regarding Will and how he is considered the successful son only because his father liked his mother better. "Face in the Window," which takes place in Italy, departs from the regionalism of many of his stories. The main character is a professor in charge of a group of students in Italy for the summer. Overly academic, Professor Cantwell often looks over the bland faces of the students during a lecture, to see "her," a student with whom he thinks he has made a connection, Vir¬ ginia Pontefore. Throughout the story, the professor fantasizes that she is different from the others, but in the end he overhears her participating in a juvenile joke and making fun of "old Cantwell." He realizes that he really is not different from any other observers of the history he is teaching them, but just another "face in the window." Success received, for the most part, excellent reviews. In addition to Dodd's enthusiastic review, Robert Shapter said in The Columbus Dispatch (14 June 1992), "These stories of parents and children, broken dreams and hard-found answers are full of discoveries and delights. The values speak forcefully for them¬ selves." He concluded that "Masters creates people and places with whom just about everyone will identify. Even the characters just offstage are deeply felt." An exception to the positive reviews was an asser¬ tion in Publishers Weekly (13 January 1992) that "while Hilary Masters is truly accomplished, able to juxtapose events from the past and present gracefully, to coin arresting phrases and to manipulate symbols with envi¬ able dexterity, none of these 16 entries seems more than an exercise in technique." More often, however, the response was positive. Constance Decker Thomson, in The New York Times (10 May 1992), characterized the stories as "Erudite, engaging and lovingly detailed," adding that they "feature an ambiance of quiet compo¬ sure in which modest characters pursue modest long¬ ings, often across great distances. Mr. Masters excels at exploring his characters' yearnings to recover a lost home or to reconnect with a lost love." Hilary Masters's short fiction evokes nostalgic feelings and a depth to his characters as he shares a morsel of Americana with his readers. While his autobi¬ ography and some of his essays have received broader recognition, his short fiction is exceptional, not to be circumvented in favor of his other work. Interview: "About the Author: Interview: Hilary Masters Author of 'Son of Spoon River,'" Creative Nonjktion, no. 5 < 05masters_ai.htm >.