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Chronicler of Change

THE farm that Bobbie Ann Mason grew up on in Mayfield, Ky., is now surrounded by a subdivision, an industrial park, a railroad, a tobacco warehouse. The people she writes about are living through the tumultuous changes that happen as a new era washes over the old. ``They're my people, the people I come from,'' she said of her characters, in a recent interview. ``I was concerned about their lives. I had witnessed the migration away from the farm and the kinds of things that happen to them.

``I think marriage is the arena where the big changes in our society are being reflected, and basically I'm always writing about change. Often it seems that the conflict in the marriage is between somebody who wants to hang on to the past and someone who wants to stride out into the future. Or somebody who is very committed to the place and someone else who wants to strike out into a new frontier.''

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``[A] lot has been made about rootlessness, and a lot about roots has been romanticized. As the writer of these characters, I see a lot of excitement in their rootlessness, because they're being uprooted from a lot of things I find bad. It takes courage to deal with forge ahead.''

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