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W-3: A Memoir

by Bette Howland

eBook $17.99

$17.99

$17.99

W-3 is one hell of a debut' Lucy Scholes, Paris Review

'Remarkably perceptive and wise' Katy Waldman, New Yorker

'Howland is finally getting the recognition that she deserves' Sarah Hughes, iNews

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. In 1968, Howland was thirty-one, a single mother of two young sons, struggling to support her family on the part-time salary of a librarian; and labouring day and night at her typewriter to be a writer. One afternoon, while staying at her friend Saul Bellow’s apartment, she swallowed a bottle of pills. W-3 is both an extraordinary portrait of the community of Ward 3 and a record of a defining moment in a writer’s life. The book itself would be her salvation: she wrote herself out of the grave.

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

‘For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin—real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business; time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life could begin. At last it had dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.’

Book Information

  • ISBN: 9781760988210
  • Format: eBook
  • Pub Date: 14/09/2021
  • Category: C 1970 To C 1980
    Illinois
    Biography & True Stories / Autobiography: literary
    Biography & True Stories / Memoirs
  • Imprint: Picador
  • Price: $17.99

W-3 is one hell of a debut' Lucy Scholes, Paris Review

'Remarkably perceptive and wise' Katy Waldman, New Yorker

'Howland is finally getting the recognition that she deserves' Sarah Hughes, iNews

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. In 1968, Howland was thirty-one, a single mother of two young sons, struggling to support her family on the part-time salary of a librarian; and labouring day and night at her typewriter to be a writer. One afternoon, while staying at her friend Saul Bellow’s apartment, she swallowed a bottle of pills. W-3 is both an extraordinary portrait of the community of Ward 3 and a record of a defining moment in a writer’s life. The book itself would be her salvation: she wrote herself out of the grave.

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

‘For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin—real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business; time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life could begin. At last it had dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.’

Author Information

Bette Howland (1937–2017) was the author of three books: W-3, Blue in Chicago, and Things to Come and Go. She received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1984, after which, though she continued writing, she would not publish another book. Near the end of her life, her stories found new readers when a portfolio of her work appeared in a special issue of A Public Space magazine exploring a generation of women writers, their lifetimes of work, and questions of anonymity and public attention in art.

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