Blue in Chicago

Bette Howland

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09 July 2020
9781529035865
834 minutes
Bernadette Dunne
Synopsis

'One of the significant writers of her generation.' Saul Bellow

'Her prose is cooler than a cocktail and sharper than a Japanese knife . . . Nora Ephron meets Lorrie Moore, which is about as good as it gets.' Observer

'We should be glad to have her back . . . Howland has the pinpoint vision that can make any sentence into a jewel' The Times


'Beautifully bittersweet . . . funny, ruefully poetic and effortlessly perceptive' Daily Mail

Blue in Chicago collects together the sharp, bittersweet stories of Bette Howland and restores to our bookshelves an extraordinarily gifted writer, who was recognized as a major talent before all but disappearing from public view completely, until nearly the end of her life.

Bette Howland was an outsider: an intellectual from a working-class neighborhood in Chicago; a divorcée and single mother, to the disapproval of her family; an artist chipped away at by poverty and perfection. Each of these sides of her life plays a shaping role in her work. Mining her most precarious struggles for her art in each of these stories, she chronicles the fears and hopes of her generation.

Blue in Chicago, and other stories introduces UK readers to a wry, brilliant observer and a writer of great empathy and sly, joyous humor. Published in the US under the title Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage.

'Remarkable . . . Captivating writing: rhythmic, alert, empathetic . . . I haven’t enjoyed another book more this year.' Telegraph

'Profound . . . To read Bette Howland is to be handed a gift you didn't know you needed.' Irenosen Okojie, author of Nudibranch

The work of a woman who has invested her life in her art, and who will, I think be remembered as one of the significant writers of her generation.

Saul Bellow

She holds the city's humanity in an uneasy but affectionate embrace, and her voice is unlike any other. Fiercely straightforward, honest, angry, warmhearted.

New York Times

Her prose is cooler than a cocktail and sharper than a Japanese knife. It’s zippy, witty and sometimes deeply sad: Nora Ephron meets Lorrie Moore, which is about as good as it gets.

Rachel Cooke, Observer