Tag Archives: reviews

Books: Refusing to Look Away

Bette Howland, the MacArthur Genius who published three acclaimed books in her lifetime and then fell into obscurity, has been hailed as a major rediscovery with the reissues of her books. (Never mind the cultural implications of why only women seem to become so forgotten that they are cause for celebration upon rediscovery, let’s just be happy that writers like Howland and Eve Babitz and, the queen of rediscovered genius, Dawn Powell continue to be in print.)

If Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, the collection of her selected short stories, seemed slightly underwhelming, the reissue of her three novellas proves the enthusiasts correct. The women in Things to Come and Go (A Public Space Books, May 10) are sui generis and yet utterly recognizable. Howland is grappling with big themes via minutiae in these stories: The careful physicality of the family at the center of the first story lays bare the X-ray vision of children; is it any wonder the narrator recalls all the people who were forever “imitating me staring at them.”

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