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Robert Olen Butler

Robert Olen ButlerAKA Robert Olen Butler, Jr.

Born: 20-Jan-1945
Birthplace: Granite City, IL

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Author

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

Military service: US Army (intelligence, 1969-72, Sgt.)

Robert Olen Butler was drafted into the US Army during the Vietnamese War, though as a college student he easily could have obtained a deferment. He volunteered for intelligence duty, learned to speak Vietnamese fluently, and came to empathize with the natives. When his tour of duty ended he came home to America, where he worked as a school teacher and magazine editor while writing novels in his spare time. His first books earned good reviews but meager sales, until he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, a startling collection of interconnected short stories told from the Vietnamese perspective.

His works span a wide array of settings, held together with a sense of humor and humanity, and the honesty with which the fiction is drawn. The short stories in Had a Good Time start with brief, cryptic messages mailed on the back of postcards, and tell the stories that inspired those oblique notes, ranging from a mother who goes to the front lines of the first World War to man in love with a peg-legged woman. Mr. Spaceman, ostensibly a science fiction novel, tells the story of a humanoid extraterrestrial whose time on Earth echoes the New Testament adventures of Jesus Christ. Severance is a collection of stories set in the brief moments after a person's head has been severed but before consciousness and life is lost. He has also written several screenplays for major Hollywood studios, of which none have yet been produced.

Father: Robert Olen Butler, Sr. (actor, theater worker)
Mother: Lucille Frances Hall (executive secretary)
Wife: Carol Supplee (m. 1968, div. 1972)
Wife: Marylin Geller (poet, "Marylin Krepf", m. 1972, div. 1987, one son)
Son: Joshua Robert Butler
Wife: Maureen Donlan (m. 1987, div. 1995)
Wife: Elizabeth Dewberry (playwright, m. 1995, div. 2007)

    High School: Granite City High School, Granite City, IL
    University: BS, Northwestern University (1967)
    University: MA, University of Iowa (1969)
    Scholar: New School for Social Research (1979-81)
    Teacher: McNeese State University (1985-93)
    Professor: Francis Eppes Professor of Creative Writing, Florida State University (1993-)

    VVA TuDo Chinh Kien Award 1987
    VQR Emily Clark Balch Award 1990
    Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 1993 for A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
    Richard and Hilda Rosenthal Award 1993 for A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
    Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (1993)
    National Magazine Award 2005 for "The One in White", Atlantic Monthly
    Fairchild Publications Magazine Editor (1975-85)
    National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1994)

Official Website:

Author of books:
The Alleys of Eden (1981, novel)
Sun Dogs (1982, novel)
Countrymen of Bones (1983, novel)
On Distant Ground (1985, novel)
Wabash (1987, novel)
The Deuce (1989, novel)
A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain (1992, short stories)
They Whisper (1994, novel)
Tabloid Dreams (1996, short stories)
The Deep Green Sea (1997, novel)
Mr Spaceman (2000, novel)
Fair Warning (2002, novel)
Had a Good Time: Stories from American Postcards (2004, short stories)
From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction (2005, non-fiction)
Severance (2006, short stories)
Intercourse (2008, short stories)
Hell (2009, novel)

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