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Things to Come and Go

ISBN: 9780998267562
Publication Date: June 28, 2022
Pages: 160

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From the acclaimed author of Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage and the memoir W-3, a trio of novellas about three women’s bold exploration of the desire for belonging as it comes into conflict with the fulfillment of our individual selves. With an introduction by Rumaan Alam.


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Over the past several years, A Public Space has brought the work of Bette Howland back into print. First published in 1983, Things to Come and Go is her final book, and a showcase of her stunning talent—the razor-sharp observations, the elusive narrators, the language at once experimental and classical.

Nearly forty years later, it’s writing that “feel[s] revelatory and imperative to the work we might all be trying to make next” (Lynn Steger Strong).

Bette Howland

(1937-2017) was born in Chicago. She published three books in her lifetime: W-3, and the story collections Blue in Chicago and Things to Come and Go. She received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1984, after which she did not publish another book. A posthumous collection of her stories, Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, is also available from A Public Space Books.


​A​nother unburied treasure, with Howland’s glimmering talent again on full display. Each story showcases the author’s intelligence, insightfulness, and incomparable eye for illuminating detail and ear for captivating dialogue​…This rediscovered collection feels as clear and colorful as if it had been written today.​

Kirkus starred review

Exuberantly voice-y short stories.

Marion Winik, Washington Post

Hilar­i­ous, wise, and mov­ing por­tray­als of a van­ished world.

Jason K. Friedman, Jewish Book Council

There is being seen, and then there is seeing. There is no seeing like Bette Howland’s. On every page, catching the narrator’s every glance, are observations rich in detail and delight—honest, acerbic, alert, and always dazzling in their inventiveness and wry, hard-edged wisdom.

Amitava Kumar

Style is a great preservative in literature and the quality that Bette Howland’s… writing possess[es] in abundance, and the reason [her] work has proved worth preserving.

Joseph Epstein, Commentary

Howland's striking prose breathes life into the everyday, the domestic world sung with a lyrical note…reminiscent of Edna O'Brien, with shades too of Jean Rhys.

Sarah Gilmartin, The Irish Times

Throughout her writing, Howland consistently mines enormous power from little details…The distance from the eye to the pen is often very long, but Howland covers that ground in an instant, transporting readers into her scenes.

James Webster, Filth


Bookforum. "All She Wrote": Rumaan Alam’s introduction to Things to Come and Go

Zoomer Magazine. Featured in Zed Book Club’s Hidden Gems: The Best Rediscovered Books of 2022