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Works by
Sallie Bingham
(Feminist, Playwright, Poet, Writer)
[January 22, 1937 - ]

Fiction
  • Cory's Feast (2005)
    Cory is a middle-aged Easterner, long-divorced, energetic and fearlessly sensual. Pursuing a dream she has nursed for years, she moves to Taos, New Mexico and buys a famous old house and, in the tradition of its previous owner, turns it into a crucible for the transformation of her guests. Eccentric and charming, with a lover from the Pueblo and lots of turquoise and broomstick skirts, Cory finds her guests, mainly skiers and tourists, bewildered by her particular philosophy, which she calls "The School of As-If."

    Then her long-time friend is found murdered and Cory is suspicious of the local police's half-hearted attempts to find the murderer. Involving herself in trying to solve the case, her unleashed power leads to surprising and even terrifying results.

    Part murder mystery, part adventure, this ground-breaking novel traces the mature lives of Cory and her much more conventional sister Apple, who first appeared in the author's "Matron of Honor," described by Publishers Weekly as "A powerful novel, her best yet."

  • Straight Man (1996)
    Though the title of Bingham's new novel suggests one half of a comedy team, the feelings of the protagonist, Louisville college professor Colby Winn, are no joke. When Colby picks up hitchiker Ann Lee Crabtree, his initial interest in the free-spirited woman almost immediately becomes obsessive.

    To his friends, particularly I. and Martha Weekly, who are expecting their first child,Colby's infatuation with Ann Lee seems like a good thing. But it's soon clear that he's out of control. In one of the book's many dead-on observations, the initial consummation of Colby's affair with Ann Lee leaves him devastated when she refuses to "play" with him because he's too serious about her. Bingham uses the idea of playing, and Ann Lee's career - she's an intinerant actress whose current role involves both violence and on-stage romance - to pry open Colby's repressed memories, forcing him to review his failed marriage and his relationship with his physically abusive father.

    In fact, Colby has a violent streak of his own, which becomes more and more apparent as he watches Ann Lee rehearse her play and develop a relationship with Martha Weekly. Bingham (Matron of Honor) charts Colby's descent from lonely-but-likable to creepy-and-dangerous with sharp insights about the many forms that possessiveness takes, from the dashed expectations of new lovers (and new fathers) to the ramifications of biology as destiny.

    The novel's strength is the quiet authority with which Bingham writes, making her story disturbing, and disturbingly real.

  • Matron of Honor (1994)
    As in her previous novels, Bingham concerns herself with family relationships, and in many ways revisits the tensions of her own well-known Kentucky clan, which she chronicled in the nonfiction Passion and Prejudice . This muted yet powerful narrative is her best yet, as she captures a prominent Kentucky family, the Masons, at their most vulnerable.

    Headstrong 19-year-old Apple Mason is about to marry Billy Long, a poor but respectable and shrewdly ambitious employee of her father's hardware company. The whirlwind wedding preparations have put genteel Mrs. Mason on edge, and the unexpected arrival of Apple's sister Cory, who has just left her husband, stirs up the disquieting undercurrents beneath the family's thin surface of restraint and politeness. As each character looks back from the present (the early 1970s) to offer his or her perspective on the rigid clan, a disturbing pattern emerges: the energetic, intelligent young Mason women have always been kept firmly in their place; denied a role in the family business, they are prized, like Kentucky thoroughbreds, for their breeding and bloodline, but they must be tamed and broken. Billy is only too anxious to take charge, and Apple is already ambivalent about their marriage. With a deft touch, Bingham evokes distinctive moments--a ride along the Ohio River at sunset, a quiet yet totally revealing lunch between Apple's father and his sister--with grace and acuity.

  • Upstate (1993)
    A woman's obsession drives an affair out of control, violating social contracts and devastating the people in its path. For years, Ann and David shared weekends and holidays with country friends Flora and Edwin, even after womanizing Edwin took Ann away to pick grapes and started a year-long affair. The ground rules were clear from the start: Flora accepted what she called Edwin's meaningless "things," and Edwin stipulated no divorces. But Ann's empty marriage (to which David was providing neither money nor sex) and growing need for Edwin cause her to ask for more, leading to estrangement and a startling climax.

  • Small Victories: A Novel (1992)
    Southern gothic touches lace this dark, portentous story of family lies revealed and grievances redressed. In Passion & Prejudice, Bingham described the bitter conflicts that beset several generations of her own family, which owned the Louisville Courier-Journal . She sets this, her second novel, in a small North Carolina town circa 1958. Louise, the elder of two middle-aged sisters, quietly cares for childlike Shelby, who suffers unpredictable seizures and emotional storms. Baffled and embarrassed by Louise's refusal to put Shelby in an institution, their beloved cousin Big Tom, a state senator, forces her hand. While casting about for ways to free Shelby, Louise tries mightily to strip emotional blinders from the eyes of Big Tom's tormented son, a Harvard sophomore heading for a nervous breakdown.

  • Passion and Prejudice: A Family Memoir (1989)
    Beware of imitations. There are many accounts of the Bingham family saga, but no other by someone who was there. For the first time, a gifted writer born into a family of inherited wealth and power takes us with her behind the doors of that patriarchal hothouse.

  • Nick of Time (1980, 2006)
    Melanie is a dancer-the most unlikely dancer in the world, a woman who has had a hard life, waitressing, raising a son alone, putting up with an abusive husband. Late in life, she decides to pursue one dream, a dream she can't afford, which her husband opposes: she will become a skilled ballroom dancer, moving to the old love songs that have never applied to her life. And she wants to learn to lead! As she takes lessons, scrapes up the money to pay for costumes, and prepares for her first competition, she faces increasing opposition. But she persists, entering the glamorous, demanding world of professional dancing with an innocence and a determination that will change her life.

  • Way it is Now (1972)

  • The Touching Hand (1967)

  • After Such Knowledge (1960)

Poetry
  • Hub of the Miracle (2006)
    Sallie Bingham's poems seek, always, to connect. The events of ordinary life-walking in the woods around Santa Fe, lighting a fire in a stove-merge with the crises of maturity: death and other losses. Always, the tonic is hope-the hope that springs from a stone, a stream, or a memory of childhood. These short lyrics provide inspiration for all travelers on the path.

Short Stories
  • Red Car (2008)
    Forty-year veteran of the novel, noted feminist, and author of over ten books, Sallie Bingham returns with Red Car, a collection written in her signature style--discreet, sly prose circling taboo subjects. Her new offering is about love enjoyed, whether alone or with lovers, sensual or familial, comedic or tragic, often with a wry twist.

    In these twelve stories, Bingham travels from the beaches of Normandy shortly after the second World War, to modern-day Brittany, Santa Fe, Florida, and Southern Colorado to situate her wide range of characters. Her protagonists blunder through relationships, no matter where they happen to live. But somehow we know they'll survive and be wiser for it. Bingham's new collection, with its honed aesthetic of subtlety and honesty is an adventurous read.

  • Transgressions: Stories (2002)
    In her wise and sexy new collection, Sallie Bingham examines modern-day "transgressions" in affairs of the heart. She offers up a minage trois, an older woman's affair with a student, a painter who uses his age as an excuse to behave indecorously. But the reader quickly discovers the real transgressions are those of the self against the self.

    In "The Pump, " a woman lies about her love life because she worries that "abandoned women look like dying witches." In "The One True Place, " a gay couple shelter a young man, though they understand he will erode their relationship. Bingham's stories are told with a sober reticence and the authority of real-life ambiguity; confusions of desire and morality, ambition and regret underlie each beautifully crafted tale.

    A noted feminist and the author of seven works of prose, Sallie Bingham brings to this book the skills of a passionate classicist. In the manner of Chekhov, the grand events of a life compete for attention with the dirty litter box, the just-noticed aging spots on a character's hand, the casual remark that changes everything. Again and again we are startled by such seemingly humble juxtapositions. There is terrific gravity to these calmly told stories.

    Transgressions marks an important milestone in this distinguished writer's career.

See also:
The American Voice
  • No. 32 - Stories, Poems, Essays (1993)

  • 17 (Winter 1989)

  • 29 (1992), Frederick Smock and Sallie Bingham, eds.

  • 27 (1992), Frederick Smock and Sallie Bingham, eds.

  • 26 (Spring 1992), Frederick Smock and Sallie Bingham, eds.

  • 25 (Winter 1991), Frederick Smock and Sallie Bingham, eds.

  • 24 (Fall 1991), Frederick Smock and Sallie Bingham, eds.

  • 23 (Summer 1991), Frederick Smock and Sallie Bingham, eds.

  • 22 (Spring 1991), Frederick Smock and Sallie Bingham, eds.

  • 21 (Winter 1990), Frederick Smock and Sallie Bingham, eds.

  • 18 (Spring 1990), Frederick Smock and Sallie Bingham, eds.

  • The American Voice (Spring 1988), Frederick Smock and Sallie Bingham, eds.

  • 3 (Summer 1986)

  • 2 (1986), Frederick Smock and Sallie Bingham, eds.

  • 1 (1985), Frederick Smock and Sallie Bingham, eds.

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