Abbott, Lee K. (October 17, 1949-April 29, 2019) was an American short story writer. Born in the Panama Canal Zone, Abbott was raised in Las Cruces, Mexico. Abbot first studied in New Mexico University, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and then went on to receive his MFA in University of Arkansas. Abbott, aside from being a prolific writer, also worked as an educator in various universities and colleges. He began as an assistant professor of English in CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY, where he taught from 1976 to 1989, but later moved on to be professor in Ohio State University. During his time at OSU, Abbott served as the director of the creative writing program for two terms as well the as the chair of English department’s Promotion and Tenure Committee for some time. He worked there until his retirement in 2012.
Abbot primarily wrote short stories. He released his first collection, The Heart Never Fits Its Wanting, in 1980. He would follow this up with several more collections, including Love is the Crooked Thing (1986), Strangers in Paradise (1986), Dreams of Distant Lives (1990), Living after Midnight (1991), Wet Places in Noon (1997), and All Things, All at Once: New and Selected Stories (2006). Abbott won many awards for his writings, including the Pushcart Prize and the O. Henry Award. In 1980, The Heart Never Fits Its Wanting won the St. Lawrence Award for Fiction and then in 1982, he was given the Cleveland Arts Prize for Literature. He has also been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction twice.
Abbot’s stories where mostly set in the southwest, specifically in New Mexico, where he grew up. They were tended to be humorous, focusing on examining the plight of its characters through a comical lens. One of the most praised aspects of Abbot’s stories are said characters, who are often well fleshed out and almost life-like in their depictions. His stories also feature recurring elements or characters, such as the setting of Deming, New Mexico, and the minor character Uncle Roy.
Abbott was married to Pamela Jo Dennison, with whom he had two children, Noel Abbott and Kelly Abbott. Following her death in 2014, Abbot remarried to Natalie Watson in November 2017, with whom he would remain until he passed away from Leukemia.