1991 Notable Authors

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Kelly Cherry
Florence Parry Heide
Larry Shue

Kelly Cherry, 1940-

Kelly Cherry, Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 1977, was born in Baton Rouge, LA, December 21, 1940. She received her B.A. (1961) in philosophy and mathematics, attended the University of Virginia as a Du Pont Fellow in philosophy, and received her M.F.A. (1967) in writing from the University of North Carolina.

Cherry s literary success is represented in several genres, including long and short fiction, poetry, and nonfiction that have appeared in a wide range of periodicals and in such prize anthologies as Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize, and New Stories from the South. Some of her work has been translated into Latvian, Russian, Chinese, Lithuanian, Dutch, Swedish and Arabic. She has said of her writing: "I'm concerned with the shape of ideas in time: the dynamic configuration a moral dilemma makes, cutting through a novel like a river through rock; the way a philosophical statement bounces against the walls of a poem, like an echo in a canyon... It's in poetry that thought and time most musically counterpoint each other, and I like a world in which the elements sing." An interest m structure, idea, and music finds grounded expression in a variety of subject matters. Her recent poetry collection, Natural Theology, speaks to a longstanding interest in paleontology and cosmology. My Life and Dr. Joyce Brothers, located modern America in the life of a woman in Madison, Wisconsin. A recurrent note in her work is her experience of the Soviet Union, as detailed in the autobiographical The Exiled Heart.

Cherry's nine books and two chapbooks have elicited the various strong reactions that are to be expected for such innovative and sometimes disturbing or difficult work. The Sewanee Review finds her someone who might "well become a truly important poet." Her first novel was termed "just about perfect" by Kirkus Reviews and "flawless" by The Chicago Tribune Book World. Larry McMurtry compared Augusta Played favorably with Tom Jones. Her work has been described as original, powerful, musical, and filled with intellectual passion.

Cherry has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Romnes Fellowship, and the first Fellowship of Southern Writers Poetry Award given in recognition of a distinguished body of work.

Selected Writings

Augusta Played, 1979.
The Exiled Heart: A Meditative Autobiography, 1991.
The Lost Traveller's Dream, 1984.
Lovers & Agonistics, 1975.
My Life and Dr. Joyce Brothers, 1990.
Natural Theology, 1988.
Sick and Full of Burning, 1974.

Florence Parry Heide, 1919-

The versatile Kenosha author, Florence Heide was born in Pittsburgh, PA, the daughter of a banker and a journalist. She received her B.A. from UCLA and later married Donald C. Heide, an attorney. After raising five children, Heide "drifted" into writing books for children while writing lyrics for her friend Sylvia Van Clief's music.

Heide has had over seventy books published. She and her daughter, Roxanne, have co-authored a popular mystery series for middle grade readers. The Day of Ahmed's Secret was co-authored with her daughter, Judith.

Frequently set in contemporary times, Heide's stories focus on the real problems of children today. Her strength is in creating believable characters which children find interesting. Some of her books, like Banana Twist, are humorous and show insight into her readers' sense of humor. Other works, like The Shrinking of Treehorn, and The Problem With Pulicifer are satirical. Several of her works such as Sunshine, Sound of Rain, When the Sad One Comes to Stay, and the title story of a collection called The Key help readers understand children with special needs and problems. The Day of Ahmed's Secret shows the universality of children's pride in accomplishment. She puts her readers in the shoes of other children and helps the reader grow with the characters.

Heide's books have been honored through the years. Six of her books are listed in Gillespie's 1990 edition of Best Books for Children: Preschool through Grade 6 and another seven in the Children's Catalog. The Shrinking of Treehorn has received international honors.

Selected Writings

Banana Twist, 1978.
The Day of Ahmed's Secret, 1990.
Growing Anyway Up, 1976.
The Key, 1971.
The Problem With Pulicifer, 1982.
The Shrinking of Treehorn, 1971.
Tales For the Perfect Child, 1985.
When the Sad One Comes to Stay, 1975.

Larry Shue, 1946-1985

Talking about the effect of his comedies on audiences, playwright Larry Shue once said: "You have tired neurotic people filing in and you have kids coming out giggling and flirting." Shue was born in New Orleans on July 23, 1946, and grew up in Kansas and Illinois. He studied acting at Illinois Wesleyan University, graduating in 1968 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (cum laude). He served in the U.S. Army's Entertainment Unit from 1967 to 1972 where he won the Eddie Fox Award in Special Services Entertainment. From 1972 to 1977 he appeared in improvisational comedy groups, dinner theaters, and other venues.

Shue's Wisconsin connection began in 1977 when he became a member of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. After writing a successful revue for the theater he was made their resident playwright in 1979. The most productive years of his brief writing career, 1979-1985 were spent there. Four of his plays premiered in Milwaukee: Grandma Duck is Dead, a one-act play; two farces, The Nerd and The Foreigner; and Wenceslas Square, a more serious comedy about the oppression of artists under totalitarianism, In later productions his three full-length plays gained far wider acclaim.

As of 1988 The Nerd was the all-time top grossing American play in London's West End. The Foreigner was voted one of the best plays in American Regional Theater 1983/1984 by the American Theater Critics Association. It went on to be the fifth longest running off-Broadway play, running 700 performances.

Larry Shue died at the age of 39 in a plane crash in Virginia in 1985. Wenceslas Square was produced posthumously in New York in 1987. No one knows how much more Shue would have contributed to the American theater. We do know that the plays he did write were funny, fast-moving, warm, and brought the best out of actors. The Nerd and The Foreigner are two of the plays most produced by community theaters and high schools nationwide.

Selected Writings

The Foreigner.
Grandma Duck is Dead.
My Emperor's New Clothes.
The Nerd.
Wenceslas Square.