"I think almost always that what gets me going with a story is the atmosphere, the visual imagery, and then I people it with characters, not the other way around." -- Ann Beattie
Ann Beattie (born September 8, 1947) is an American short story writer and novelist. She has received an award for excellence from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and a PEN/Bernard Malamud Award for excellence in the short story form. Her work has been compared to that of Alice Adams, J.D. Salinger, John Cheever, and John Updike. She holds an undergraduate degree from American University and a masters degree from the University of Connecticut.
"Also minimalism is a term that all of us who share so little in common and who are lumped together as minimalists are not terribly happy with.""Falling in Place was meant to be very much rooted in a place and time, and music was a part of that.""I could name a few songs and say exactly what summer they came out and what boy I thought I was in love with when I was fourteen years old, but I think that music used to be really more a part of the culture when people went out dancing in a different way than they do now.""I don't even correct people when they mispronounce my name now.""I don't write about things that I have the answers to or things that are very close to home. It just wouldn't be any adventure. It wouldn't have any vitality.""I feel that these stories are being written to articulate certain confusions and disappointments, and I do mean to shake up the reader, and I do hope they're on target.""I like a lot of Margaret Atwood, I like much of Alice Munro. Again, if you were to ask me about male writers, there's often a novel I admire, but not all of their works.""I must say also that it's never worked to my disadvantage that I have long, blond hair.""I think I write about things that are mysterious to me.""I think that I'm serious, but I don't think that I'm inordinately bleak.""I've been in this business for a long time, and I no longer think that anything that I do by way of clarification is ever going to eradicate the mistakes.""I've spent my life supporting myself.""If you could have a book called My Favorite Six Stories, I don't think I'd have trouble doing that.""It's gratifying that it does; I love to give readings.""It's interesting, though, that in daily life, I think of myself as being relatively unobservant.""It's often been said that I'm an extremely depressing, cynical writer. I've never known what to make of that.""Much of what happens in Love Always is really from overheard conversations in the Russian Tea Room. It's an improvisation of the way certain Hollywood agents think and talk to each other.""Nobody can assume that, to a writer, everything is off-limits.""Quite often my narrator or protagonist may be a man, but I'm not sure he's the more interesting character, or if the more complex character isn't the woman.""There is some reason, obviously, that you are drawn to your material, but the way in which you explore it might come to be quite different from what you would expect.""Well, a few years ago I think I could have given you a more enthusiastic answer about that but in the last few years, for the first time in my life, I really haven't listened to much music. I used to work with music on and now I don't.""When I lived in New York, not only did I have safety locks on the door but I had the music going, keeping the city at a distance, trying to find creative time and peace and so forth.""When I was teaching at Harvard in the 1970s, I went to Project Incorporated in Cambridge and took photography classes. I didn't even know how to aim the camera in those days.""While I would agree that I write about serious subjects, and that they're not necessarily the most pleasant subjects or even the most pleasant people, as a writer I just think about the humorous aspects of these things - that's what keeps me going when I'm writing a story.""Women are obviously much more discriminated against than men in many ways.""You have to figure out who the right person is to tell the story. And often, people who are very self-aware will only sound as if they are pontificating if they tell the story."
Born in Washington, D.C., Beattie grew up in Chevy Chase, Washington, D.C.. She gained attention in the early 1970s with short stories published in The Western Humanities Review, Ninth Letter, the Atlantic Monthly, and The New Yorker. Critics have praised her writing for its keen observations and dry, matter-of-fact irony which chronicle disillusionments of the upper-middle-class generation that grew up in the 1960s. In 1976, she published her first book of short stories, Distortions, and her first novel, Chilly Scenes of Winter, later made into a film. Beattie's style has evolved over the years. In 1998, she published Park City a collection of old and new short stories, about which Christopher Lehman-Haupt wrote in the New York Times:
[The stories] are arranged chronologically, which allows the reader to trace the development of the author's technique. It also lets one see the contrast between the latest stories and the earliest, an experience of sufficient subtlety and complexity to reduce one in this limited space to the following gross generalizations: Gone is the deadpan style of the early and middle stories, in which Ms. Beattie lays out on a dissecting table the behavior of her disaffected post-counterculture yuppies and then leaves it up to the reader to do the anatomizing. Gone, too, are the stabs of lyricism of the middle period, particularly the endings that try poetically to recapitulate the story's action but feel tacked on and artificial. .. In the best of these stories, Ms. Beattie's ability both to commit herself and to knit her commitment into the finest needlework of her artistry contrasts sharply with the irritating moral passivity of her earlier work.
Beattie has taught at Harvard College and the University of Connecticut and presently teaches at the University of Virginia, where she is the Edgar Allan Poe Chair of the Department of English and Creative Writing. In 2005 she was selected as winner of the Rea Award for the Short Story, in recognition of her outstanding achievement in that genre.
Her first novel, Chilly Scenes of Winter (1976), was adapted as a film alternatively titled Chilly Scenes of Winter or Head Over Heels in 1979 by Joan Micklin Silver, starring John Heard, Mary Beth Hurt, and Peter Riegert. The first version was not well received by audiences, though upon its re-release in 1982, with a new title and ending, to match that in book, the movie was success, and is now considered a comedy classic.
She is married to painter Lincoln Perry. In 2005 the two collaborated on a published retrospective of Perry's paintings. Entitled Lincoln Perry's Charlottesville, the book contains an introductory essay and artist's interview by Beattie. She was previously married to writer David Gates. While she was at the University of Connecticut, she developed a close friendship with Elaine Scarry.