Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage restores to the literary canon an extraordinarily gifted writer, who was recognized as a major talent in the 1980s before all but disappearing from public view for decades. Bette Howland’s work was rediscovered near the end of her life when one of her books was found in the one-dollar bin at a used bookstore, about to be pulped.
With direct and powerful language in the tradition of Lucia Berlin, Kathleen Collins, and Grace Paley, Howland chronicles the tensions of her generation. She was an outsider; an intellectual from a working-class neighborhood in Chicago and an artist chipped away at by poverty and self-doubt. A brilliant observer, she captures the meanings of everyday life in its grit, humor, and splendor in portraits of criminal courts and public libraries; southern belles; funerals; the end of an affair. This collection, spanning the entirety of her career, reveals a writer whose vibrant presence on the page reasserts the eternal relevance of masterful literature.