The Sherwood Anderson Foundation Fiction Award winner for 2010 is Tracy Winn of Concord, Massachusetts. Foundation Judges found her work highly humane and imagistic. Winn writes with clear, precise imagery to depict a thoroughly believable yet remarkable world. She clearly doesn't write just for herself but for a reader, too. Though her prose is fresh, open, and edgy, it is also restrained, even-handed, and mature. Her entry, the collection of ten stories Mrs. Somebody Somebody: Stories (SMU Press, 2009; Random House, 2010), set in Lowell, Massachusetts, shortly after World War II and extending to the present, respects the fullness of each character, whether millworker or mill owner, with deep insight. Each person Winn focuses upon in Lowell is depicted intuitively so that we can well understand them, their decisions, and their actions.
For example, Mrs. Somebody Somebody and Luck Be a Lady, both excellent stories set out in strong narrative lines, weave raw incidents of injustice, difficult loves, family and social expectations, desire for autonomy and mastery in work, and the consequences of tenacious self-respect. That is, indeed, a great deal to bring together seamlessly, but Winn accomplishes just that, so the judges extend this award to encourage and support her continuing creation of interesting prose about things that matter.
Winn says: "For me writing is thinking, captured, and is as essential as breathing. I began the practice as a tongue-tied fourth grader when a teacher gave me a notebook in which to record my thoughts."
From that diligent (and fortunate) beginning, Winn became a teacher and continued her study of literature, taking a writing class at Middlebury College Graduate School of English. "I took a short-story writing class with David Huddle. I found that writing lousy poems and entertaining letters had trained me. I'd developed discipline and the understanding that failure is part of the work. I'd grown to appreciate words --the importance of the right word in the right place -- their sounds and their power. I discovered that when I wrote stories, I excelled at shaping and wielding that power."
Winn started writing in earnest and enrolled in the Warren Wilson Program for writers, earning an MFA. Mrs. Somebody Somebody: Stories is a Readers Circle Selection for June 2010 at Random House Trade Paperbacks. Winn is in the early stages of a new novel and like all smart writers she is not telling anyone what she is working on.