A literary career defined
for this Mississippian the makeup of her Southern roots as well
as her roles as contemporary author and modern woman. Gloria Norris,
who was born in Holcomb, Mississippi, in 1937, graduated magna cum
laude from the University of Southern
Mississippi and received an M.A. from Ohio
State University. She moved through the literary world both
as editor-in-chief and judge of the Book of the Month Club and as
the author of her own collection of short stories, Three Stories;
a well-received novel, Looking for Bobby; a non-fiction book,
The Working Mother's Complete Handbook; and two anthologies.
Her entry into the publishing world began
with her New York position as editor-in-chief of the Book
of the Month Club in which she claims that a recognition of
the difference between "knowing what sells" and knowing "the bubbling
in [her] subconscious all along" helped her find her own source
of inspiration in the creation of her first novel, Looking for
Bobby. Through the youthful hero of a Southern childhood, Norris
concentrates within this novel on the modern Southerner's dilemma
of leaving behind ways of life that apply to the South of the '30s
and '40s while preserving the value and singularity of a past culture.
Gloria Norris's next work of highly praised
fiction, Three Stories, features short stories of the same
caliber as those which won the O. Henry Prize Stories "When
the Lord Calls," "Revive Us Again," and "Holding On" in 1983,
1984, and 1986. Her short stories have appeared in The
Sewanee Review, among other magazines and journals. In 1983
the Ladies' Home Journal
named Norris one of "America's 100 Most Important Women." Her own
crafted fiction was published in the same year as a collection of
contemporary short stories in which Norris presented selections
chosen by the authors. New American Short Stories: Writers Select
Their Own Favorites for The New American Library, edited by
Norris, includes a host of canonical and little recognized authors
as well as an introductory critical analysis of each text. Norris
insists in a later interview that it is with this collection that
she learned not only "a great deal of contemporary technique" in
fiction writing but, on a larger scale, as she states in her introduction
to the collection, the way fictional characters "enlarge our own
experience and understanding of life."
The latest anthology edited by Gloria
Norris, The Seasons of Women, comprises a collection of personal
essays, memoirs, and stories by American women who, through the
seasons of their lives, rewrite their wisdom and journeys, passion
and sorrow, loss and triumph. This publication represents for Norris,
as she shares in the introduction, the "universal, though infinitely
varied, experiences of women" as well as autobiographical forms
that enable her personal discovery and revised understanding of
her role as a woman and a writer. Gloria Norris's versatility in
the literary world as short-story writer, novelist, non-fiction
writer, editor, and national book club executive marks the journey
and triumph that she so keenly recognizes in the many characters
of her most recent contribution to her field.
Related Links & Info
Find out Norris's
views about the modern novelist in 1967 at this 1967
Cultural Highlights page at the Book-of-the-Month
Club web site.
- Looking for Bobby (novel). New York: Knopf, 1985.
- Three Stories. New York: Turnipseed Press, 1986.
- The Working Mother's Complete Handbook. New York : Dutton, 1979.
- Anthologies edited by Gloria Norris:
- New American Short Stories: Writers Select Their Own Favorites. New York: New American Library, 1986.
- The Seasons of Women: An Anthology. New York : W.W. Norton, 1996.
- Biographical Sources:
- Abbott, Dorothy, ed. Mississippi Writers: Reflections of Childhood and Youth, Volume I Fiction. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1985.
- Hilton, Anderson. "An Interview with Gloria Norris." Notes on Mississippi Writers 19 (1987): 15-22.
- Book Reviews:
- Internet Resources
- Publishing and Professional Web Sites:
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