Out on 01 July 2021


Bette Howland

See more book details
01 July 2021
0 pages

'Moving and heroically funny' New York Times

'[A] brave and honorable book. Bette Howland is a real writer.' Saul Bellow, author of Seize the Day

'like a way station, an infirmary, a camp hospital: patients had to be patched up as quickly as possible, and returned to the front.'

W-3 is a small psychiatric ward in a large university hospital, a world of pills and passes dispensed by an all-powerful staff, a world of veteran patients with grab-bags of tricks, a world of disheveled, moment-to-moment existence on the edge of permanence.

Bette Howland was one of those patients, and her chronicle of that experience is at once her own story and the close-focus, moving depiction of the lives of the community in W-3. Only through the eyes and sensibilities of a true writer could life on the ward be made so vivid, and Bette Howland has brought us that life through a strong and vigorous journal, full of the ambitious rhythm of human heartbeats.

This wonderful new edition features an original introduction by Yiyun Li, author of Where Reasons End.

I was much moved by W-3. It is admirably straight and thoughtful, tough-minded but full of powerful feeling. The patients of W-3, black and white, men and women, dizzy, endearing, suicidal, doomed, come to us from these pages not as case studies but as our own brothers and sisters. No poses are struck and no vain gestures made in this brave and honorable book. Bette Howland is a real writer.

Saul Bellow, Nobel Prize winning author of Seize the Day

In an earlier book, W-3, the moving and heroically funny account of Miss Howland's stay in the psychiatric ward of a university hospital after she had swallowed a fistful of sleeping pills, her tough and resilient personality brought a remarkably clearheaded way of seeing and knowing to that chaotic refuge of the dispossessed.

The New York Times

Bette Howland is at her best when her keenly observing eye is turned outward. Watching, always watching, she misses nothing, grasps everything, and puts it all together with an originality and cogency that are rare and memorable.

Johanna Kaplan - Commentary