Of the thousands of short stories that are printed in magazines in this country each year, only a few are worthy of the dignity of being inserted between the hardcovers of a book. The story most worthy this year is one written by Thomas Mabry, resident of Stockbridge, who is currently teaching in the Writers’ Workshop at Iowa State University.
Mr. Mabry considers himself only an “occasional writer” but the editors of Doubleday’s “Prize Stories of 1954” chose his short story as most worthy of the $500 “O. Henry Memorial Prize Award.” They selected his piece for first prize over the 22 other stories in the book because:
“In a time when too many short stories are growing longer, more verbose and more diffuse, and thus losing that explosive capacity of esthetic excitement which characterizes the best short fiction, the most striking impression offered by Thomas Mabry’s ‘The Indian Feather’ lies in its rich sense of complexity and compression. The author has utilized most of the techniques available to the modern writer in order to construct a thick-textured and dimensional piece of work.”
Mr. Mabry was born and raised in Clarksville, Tenn., and at an early age took a step which was considered absolutely disgraceful by his grandmother. He went to Harvard College up in Boston, Massachusetts, and things have never been the same since.
Mabry feels his grandmother was right but for the wrong reason. He says that everybody would probably be better off if he stayed where he was born. “But then again,” he pauses, “if I had stayed in Clarksville, I would not have discovered the hills of Berkshire County, which I have grown to love almost as much as my family loves them.”
For Mabry’s wife, the former Ethel Haven, has spent the major portion of her life in Stockbridge, going there every summer to her grandmother’s (who had a place at Lenox) or to her own family’s place in Stockbridge.
Although he finds the atmosphere (humanly speaking) very pleasant in Iowa City, Mabry reports that he and his whole family long to return to Berkshire County. “My two young daughters, aged 10 and 7, ask me every week, at least, ‘How many more weeks before we go back to Massachusetts?’”