Ann Beattie's Follies is a superb novella and collection of stories about adult children, aging parents, and the chance encounters that irrevocably alter lives. Beattie, winner of four O. Henry prizes, has been called "one of our era's most vital masters of the short form" (The Washington Post Book World). She is a masterful observer of domestic relations and the idiosyncratic logic that governs human lives. In Follies, her most resonant collection, she looks at baby boomers in their maturity, sorting out their own lives and struggling with parents who are eccentric, unpredictable, and increasingly dependent. In "Fléchette Follies," a man rear-ends a woman at a stoplight, and the ripple effect of that encounter is vast and catastrophic. In "Apology for a Journey Not Taken," a woman's road trip is perpetually postponed by the UPS deliveryman who wants to watch TV in her house, by the girl next door who has lost her dog, and by the death of her friend in a freak accident. Impatient in his old age, the protagonist of "That Last Odd Day in L.A." can hardly manage a pleasant word to his own daughter, but he finds a chance for redemption on the last day of a vacation he spends with his niece and nephew. Ann Beattie is at the top of her form in this superb collection, writing with the vividness, compassion, and sometimes morbid wit that have made her one of the most influential writers of her generation.
Ann Beattie has been included in four O. Henry Award Collections, in John Updike’s The Best American Short Stories of the Century, and in Jennifer Egan’s The Best American Short Stories 2014. In 2000, she received the PEN/Malamud Award for achievement in the short story. In 2005, she received the Rea Award for the Short Story. She was the Edgar Allan Poe Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia. She is a member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She and her husband, Lincoln Perry, live in Maine and Key West, Florida.