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Blue in Chicago Reviews

Blue in Chicago: and other stories

Bette Howland

Score pending

2 reviews

Category: Fiction
Imprint: Picador
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication date: 9 Jul 2020
ISBN: 9781529035827

The bittersweet, sharply observed stories in Blue in Chicago introduce British readers for the first time to Bette Howland, a forgotten great of twentieth-century American fiction, perfect for fans of Lucia Berlin, Lydia Davis and Alice Munroe.

4 stars out of 5
30 Jul 2020

"She’s funny, ruefully poetic and effortlessly perceptive"

Howland observes the nitty gritty of everyday lives against the backdrop of a poor, crime-ridden city, where quiet but enthralling dramas are played out in libraries, hospitals and ramshackle apartments.

She’s funny, ruefully poetic and effortlessly perceptive when it comes to the push-pull nature of the relationships between parents and grown-up children.


4 stars out of 5
25 Jul 2020

"affords a sense of justice belatedly done, both in literary and social terms"

Howland had more in common with Bellow than just Chicago. Like his, her stories have a hectic variety, and do their storytelling not with a line but a fishing net, gathering it all in. She is not a plotter; her stories don’t pull you along with drama and gunshots, and because her narrators are usually observers to the action (one describes herself as “remote”) there is often more telling than showing, which can undo the lightness of the tone and make it hard to keep track of everything.