Born in San Antonio, Allen Wier spent the first five years of his life with one foot in Texas and one in Mexico. After WWII his daddy, Ralph, got work in the jungles and flower-growing regions of Mexico looking for ferns and flowers to import to the wholesale flower business in Texas. Allen and his mother, George Ann, followed his dad back and forth across the border. When their tourist cards expired, they drove the family’s green Studebaker Champion or rode the train from Mexico City to San Antonio and, later, back to rejoin his dad. Afternoons in Mexico while his only playmate—a Mexican boy who spoke no English—observed the custom of a siesta, Allen had lessons from his mother who taught him to read and to write. This was the beginning of a lifelong habit of reading.
The Wiers returned to the states for Allen to start school. A new job for Ralph, still in the wholesale flower business, took them to Louisiana. Allen graduated from C. E. Byrd high school in Shreveport and returned to Texas to earn his undergraduate degree at Baylor University in Waco. He went back to Louisiana and completed a Master’s in English at LSU. He taught at Longwood College in Virginia for two years and then went to Bowling Green in northwest Ohio for his MFA. A year teaching at Carnegie-Mellon in Pittsburgh was followed by four years teaching in the writing program at Hollins College in Roanoke, Virginia. While he was at Hollins, Allen’s first novel, Blanco, and a collection of stories, Things About to Disappear were published on the same day by LSU Press. On a Guggenheim fellowship, he returned to Mexico to complete his second novel, Departing as Air, published by Simon and Schuster. He accepted a teaching job in the MFA program at the University of Alabama where he met and later married Donnie, an artist who did the pastel painting for the cover of his forthcoming story collection, Late Night, Early Morning. Donnie has two sons, Heath and Mike, and she and Allen have a son, Wes.
During the fourteen years that he taught at Alabama, Allen was visiting writer/professor for a semester at the University of Texas in Austin and for a year at Florida International University in Miami. As a Dobie-Paisano Fellow, he spent six-months’ residency on the J. Frank Dobie ranch west of Austin. While he and Donnie and Heath and Wes were living at the ranch, Allen’s third novel, A Place for Outlaws, was published by Harper & Row, and he began a long novel, Tehano, set mostly in Texas just after the Civil War. The Wiers left Alabama when Allen accepted a professorship at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville where, after a decade of research and writing, Allen completed Tehano. (The first draft was 1508 manuscript pages.) Published by SMU Press, Tehano received high praise. The Dallas Morning News wrote “It may well be the Great Texas Novel." Author Richard Bausch said of Tehano, “It is a great work and to my mind perhaps the finest achievement of my generation.”
After retiring from the University of Tennessee where he held the Hodges’ Distinguished Teaching Chair, Allen served as the U C Foundation Visiting Writer at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga; he taught in the University of New Orleans’ Edinburgh Workshop in Scotland; he joined the faculty of the Sewanee Writers Conference; and he is currently the Rayburn and Nancy Spann Watkins Endowed Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Murray State University. Currently Allen and Donnie divide their time between Murray, Kentucky and the permanent home they built overlooking Lake Guntersville in North Alabama. Allen has two book-length projects in progress as well as new stories and essays.
National Endowment for the Arts Grant
A Guggenheim Fellowship
The Dobie-Paisano Fellowship from the University of Texas and the Texas Institute of Letters
The John Dos Passos Prize for Literature
The Robert Penn Warren Award from Fellowship of Southern Writers
Individual Artist’s Grant, Tennessee Arts Commission
Alabama Travel Writer of the Year 1994—Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel
Classic in their structure, impeccable in their prose style, the stories of Late Night, Early Morning solidify Allen Wier's reputation as a master American storyteller. Fierce, tender, haunted and haunting, this book of lovers and liars and misfits and travelers will leave you a better, more empathetic person for having read it. Do yourself a favor. Pick up this book.”
These stories restore my faith in the powers of short fiction. What happens in Late Night, Early Morning is a kind of transformation—of hot, dry, Western landscapes into places more complicated, more richly mysterious and humanly textured, often hilarious, always heartbreaking. I thank Allen Wier for the revelation.”
An illuminating, exquisitely crafted collection of short stories, Late Night, Early Morning is a finely polished gem, the culmination of over forty years of work. At the heart of each of Allen Wier’s marvelous stories is compassion and a gentle wisdom. These tales offer the reader a true American voice, one that sings with originality and brilliance.”
If any living writer actually can write the perfect short story, it would be Allen Wier. Ever since his brilliant debut with Blanco and Things About to Disappear, Wier has given us work that could serve as a master class in fiction. No one out there is better. This collection of new and selected stories is a true gift to American letters.”
Allen Wier’s stories are deeply rooted in place which is quite a feat given the places are so often transient. His characters are moving, searching, and the physical landscapes: the wrong turns, and unexpected stops, the dead ends and shadows, mirror their lives as they seek future paths, while always keeping an eye on the rear view and all that has been left behind. Reading these rich, lyrical stories, the reader feels he or she is witnessing the passing of all the days and miles that makes up an individual’s life. This fine collection takes us on many memorable journeys.”
Allen Wier's beautiful Late Night, Early Morning is testament to a career fruitfully spent in measured contemplation of the human condition—our loves and our loses, our lies and our illusions, the always surprising moments in which grace is miraculously visited upon us despite our best efforts to stave it off. Weir is a consummate craftsman, and this is superb work.”
“I’m astounded by the intimacy and the sensuousness of these stories. I was immersed in the inner lives of the characters, who are rendered affectionately in a dazzling prose style.”
—Bobbie Ann Mason
—Larry McMurty, author of Lonesome Dove
“...this shimmering, powerful story evokes time’s inexorable flow, the tug of unlived dreams. Transcending labels like “Southern fiction,” Wier’s engaging family saga is an exploration of the way people live and fitfully cope.”
“His words shimmer on the page like the vistas round his lonely desert town...the novel suggests comparison at various moments with Larry McMurtry, Sherwood Anderson and Robert Penn Warren.”
—Washington Post Book World