Born: Friday, October 17, 1947
Ohio connection: Resident
Lee Kittredge Abbott has been a professor of English in Ohio for more than two decades, teaching at Case Western Reserve University for twelve years before transferring to Ohio State University in 1989. However, despite his lengthy stay in Ohio, the environment and people in Ohio feel "like an alien culture" to him. Perhaps this is because he was born miles and worlds away from Ohio, in the Panama Canal Zone, on October 17, 1947, and reared in New Mexico, where most of his short stories are set. Abbott has described the American Southwest as "what I know...it's a place where the firsts happened: first drunk, first sex, first death. It's where I came to adulthood." Writing about what he knows has earned the "linguistic hellion" praise from premier book review sources such as Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and Publishers Weekly for his "invigorating prose", "antic, smart-alecky style" and his "lush style of speech". These highly praised short stories typically revolve around three themes: boy-girl, father-son, and buddies, and include college professors, rock-n-roll bands, and bank robbers as some of his primary characters. His stories have been collected in the following volumes: The Heart Never Fits Its Wanting (1980), Love is a Crooked Thing (1986), Strangers in Paradise (1987), Dreams of Distant Lives (1989), Living After Midnight (1991) and Wet Places at Noon (1997). He also co-wrote, along with eight other authors, The Putt at the End of the World (2000), a farcical thriller of a novel that mixes a celebrity golf tournament in Scotland with spooks and ecoterrorists. Abbott's work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories (1984 and 1987) and he has contributed to magazines, including Atlantic, Georgia Review, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares and Story Quarterly. He now resides outside of Columbus, Ohio.
Fellow, National Endowment for the Arts, 1979 and 1985; St. Lawrence Award for Fiction, Fiction International, 1981, for The Heart Never Fits Its Wanting; O. Henry Prize, Doubleday & Co., 1984, for "Living Alone in Iota," and 1997; Prize for Fiction, Story Quarterly, 1985, for "Youth on Mars"; National Magazine Award from Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, and Editors Choice Award from Wampeter-Doubleday, both 1986, both for "Time and Fear and Somehow Love"; Pushcart Prize, Pushcart Press, 1986, for "X," 1987, and 1989, for "The Era of Great Numbers"; Major Artist Fellowship, Ohio Arts Council, 1991-92; Governor's Award for the Arts, Ohio Arts Council, 1993; Syndicated Fiction Award, 1995.