Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Mountain Lion: A Coming of Age Classic

Jean Stafford, an award-winning short story writer and novelist,  wrote The Mountain Lion in 1947.  Stafford's work has been published in The New Yorker and she won a Pulitzer Prize for her collected short stories.  Yet, her work has been under the radar for many years.  The Mountain Lion was published again by the New York Review Books in 2010, and as a result, Stafford is once again garnering the attention her writing so clearly deserves.

The Mountain Lion tells the story of Ralph and Molly, siblings who grow up in a stodgy, genteel suburb with their prim and proper older sisters and mother.  But these two are not interested in the confines and routines of their daily life.  When they have the opportunity to start spending summers with their Uncle Claude who lives a rugged, wilder life on a ranch in Colorado, they are thrilled at the adventures that they believe await them.  As Ralph and Molly enter adolescence their strong bond becomes threatened as their innocence gives way to brooding and their individual searches for happiness, which seem to be elusive as the mountain lion that lives in the woods near the ranch.  Stafford has written a brilliant bildungsroman, complete with wit, sharpness, memorable characters, and a shocking ending.  So consider curling up with The Mountain Lion and a hot chocolate on this wintry day!

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