Mary Lawlor grew up in a military family during the Cold War. Her father was a decorated fighter pilot who fought in the Pacific during World War II, flew missions in Korea, and did two combat tours in Vietnam. His family followed him from base to base and country to country during his years of service. Every two or three years, Mary, her three sisters, and her mother packed up their household and moved. By the time she graduated from high school, they had shifted homes fourteen times. These displacements, plus her father’s frequent absences and brief, dramatic returns, were part of the fabric of her childhood, as were the rituals of base life and the adventures of life abroad.
As Mary came of age, tensions grew between the patriotic, Catholic culture of her upbringing and the values of the countercultural sixties. By the time she dropped out of the American College in Paris in 1968, she faced her father, then posted in Saigon, across a deep political divide. Inevitably, the war came home. The fighter pilot, without knowing it, had taught his daughter how to fight back.
Years of turbulence followed. After working in Germany, Spain and Japan, Mary went on to graduate school at NYU, earned a Ph.D. and became a professor of literature and American Studies at Muhlenberg College.
She and her husband spend part of each year on a small farm in the mountains of southern Spain.