Carolyn Osborn




Carolyn Osborn Where We Are Now

Where We Are Now

Marianne, the main narrator of these stories about her mother's family, says, "The truth is sometimes a poor, sad thing—wax fruit melted in an attic, a lone mule wandering on the front lawn, a mute player piano—a few insubstantial fragments. All we could do was grab hold and make something more of them." In the beginning story, The Greats, her relatives are so distant Marianne can only give brief glimpses of these "eccentric, willful, mysterious Moores."

By knowing the Moores, we begin to know Marianne who tries to understand them. Curious as she is, she must continually accept the mystery of reality. Aware of the need for family mythology, she orders her world as best she can with what is given by reacting, reflecting, inventing and enlarging on the "fragments." Other narrators reveal omissions Marianne can never know.

Marianne’s life and the lives of the Moores have a definitely southern flavor. They mirror fading nineteenth century morality, an acceptance of eccentricity, a habit of story-telling, a strong consciousness of place, and the influence as well as the particularity of family. These stories are also attempts to show failures and triumphs of love, the necessity of forgiveness, and the usefulness of different sorts of families—Marshall, Marianne’s husband, is raised by an aunt and uncle, Marianne, by her mother and her mother’s family, an uncle marries into an Italian circus family—and their fictions.

Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, Carolyn Osborn moved to Texas when she was twelve. She has worked as a newspaper reporter, radio writer, and English teacher at the University of Texas at Austin. Best known for her short stories, she is also an essay writer. Her work appears in many literary magazines. Three of her short story collections have been published: A Horse of Another Color, The Fields of Memory, and Warriors and Maidens. The Book Club of Texas chose to publish a limited edition of one story, The Grands, as the first book in its New Texas Fiction series. She has published two novels, Uncertain Ground and Contrary People. She was one of the founders of the Texas Book Festival, which began in 1996, and from 2000-2002 she served as president of the Texas Institute of Letters. Her stories have been awarded prizes by P.E.N., the Texas Institute of Letters, and one was selected for the O. Henry Awards. In 2003 she was given the Antioch Review’s Distinguished Prose Award. She was recently given the Lon Tinkle Lifetime Achievement Award by the Texas Institute of Letters. She lives and writes in Austin.

Contrary People

Contrary People

When Theo Issac, a retired history professor, and Rose Davis, his ex-student, meet again in Austin in 1967, they begin a friendship that challenges them both.

Theo, timid and too used to routine, is still grieving over the death of his wife. As he works part time in the Ney Museum, he has before him a wonderful example of a non-conformist. Ney immigrated to Texas from Germany where she'd sculpted European greats ranging from Ludwig II to Garibaldi. She kept her maiden name and built her sculpture studio in Austin while her husband, referred to as her "best friend," and her child continued to live elsewhere.

Rose Davis, a woman who stubbornly refuses to follow the easiest, most obvious path, has recently moved back to Austin. Divorced from her Texas husband, she has been living in Paris for seventeen years with her lover, Thomas de Buvre.

By finding each other, Theo and Rose discover unknown aspects of themselves. When they do, a larger world opens to them.

You can purchase Contrary People at Wings Press or on Amazon

Uncertain Ground

Uncertain Ground

Set in 1953, this is a story of a period of uncertainty for twenty-year-old Celia Henderson while visiting relatives in Galveston, a city built on a barrier island with its own history of instability and survival. In the pre-reform Galveston of the 1950s, during its good-old, bad-old days, Celia faces a series of conflicts: old south vs. old west, typified by a wild cowboy cousin, Emmett Chandler, and fifties’ prejudices, most apparent against homosexuals and Mexican-Americans. The man who exemplifies both is an artist she meets on the island. She must also deal with fifties sexual mores, especially the double standard, inherent in her attraction to an unhappy law student. The innocence of the fifties is interwoven with the problems of that time and the present. Celia gradually learns to accept her own fears, those of others, and life’s continual uncertainty.

You can purchase Uncertain Ground at Wings Press or on Amazon

  The Grounds and Warriors and Maidens  

The Grands

THE GRANDS: A story included in the O. Henry Awards Prize Stories 1990. Printed by David Holman, Wind River Press with woodcut illustrations by Barbara Whitehead.

Purchase The Grands at the Degolyer Library


Warriors and Maidens

The 12 short stories in this collection are about the adversarial relationships between men and women, although many of the women are not, strictly speaking, maidens. The writer explores one of the the oldest themes in fiction—"Why does A love B who loves C?"—the endless mystery of what goes on between men and women. These fictions, marked by wry humor, draw the reader into different worlds whether they take place in Mexico or France, suburban Austin or a Texas ranch, today's Santa Fe or an imaginary southern past.

Purchase Warriors and Maidens on Amazon



Email Carolyn :: Book Club of Texas :: Wings Press :: Carolyn on YouTube