Robert Olen Butler, UI Graduate 69MA

Prize Work: A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain; Pulitzer Prize: 1993 Fiction

Robert Olen Butler (born 1945) is an American author.

Robert Olen ButlerAuthor Biography - Butler was born in Granite City, Illinois. He attended Northwestern University as a theater major (B.S., 1967) and switched to playwriting at the University of Iowa (M.A., 1969). In 1972, he married poet Marylin Geller and they had one child, Joshua. After the usual collection of odd jobs, including steel mill labor, taxi driving, and substitute teaching in high schools, Butler joined Fairfield Publications and worked on such trade publications as Electronic News. He became editor-in-chief of Energy User News in 1975.

Butler's participation in the U.S. military brought him to Vietnam from 1969 to 1971, first as a counter-intelligence special agent for the Army and later as a translator. He rose to the rank of sergeant in the Army Military Intelligence Corps. His experiences during those years inform much of his fiction. In 1987, he was awarded the Tu Do Chinh Kien Award by the Vietnam Veterans of America for outstanding contributions to American culture by a Vietnam veteran.

His stories have appeared in such publications as The New Yorker, Esquire, Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, GQ, and Zoetrope All-Story. He has had stories included in editions of The Best American Short Stories, New Stories from the South, and numerous college literature textbooks. Butler has also written feature-length screenplays. He taught creative writing at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, from 1985 to 2000. He then joined the faculty of Florida State University as a Francis Eppes Distinguished Professor, holding the Michael Shaara Chair in Creative Writing. Butler is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction and a National Endowment for the Arts grant, and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. In 2001 he won a National Magazine Award in Fiction. He is married to novelist and playwright Elizabeth Dewberry.

Learn More About Butler's Prize Winning Work

A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler

Book Description
Robert Olen Butler's lyrical and poignant collection of stories about the aftermath of the Vietnam War and its impact on the Vietnamese was acclaimed by critics across the nation and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993. Now Grove Press is proud to reissue this contemporary classic by one of America's most important living writers, in a new edition of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain that includes two subsequently published stories -- "Salem" and "Missing" -- that brilliantly complete the collection's narrative journey, returning to the jungles of Vietnam.

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Front Cover | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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An Interview with Robert Olen Butler

In an interview from 1985 from wiredforbooks.org, Robert Olen Butler talks about the key to becoming a writer.

(Real Audio Format)

Bibliography - Robert Olen Butler

* The Alleys of Eden (1981)
* Sun Dogs (1982)
* Countrymen of Bones (1983)
* On Distant Ground (1985)
* Wabash (1987)
* The Deuce (1989)
* A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain (1992)
* They Whisper (1994)
* Tabloid Dreams (1996)
* The Deep Green Sea (1997)
* Mr. Spaceman (2000)
* Fair Warning (2002)
* Had a Good Time: Stories from American Postcards (2004)
* From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction (2005)
* Mots de tête (2005)
* Severence (2006)

External links