W-3: A Memoir


W-3: A Memoir | 9781529035957 | Bette Howland

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Format:Paperback / softback

Published:21/07/2022 by Pan Macmillan


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

‘At moments dazzlingly and daringly written’ Rachel Cooke, Observer

‘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 dishevelled, 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 a vivid – and often surprisingly funny – portrait of the extraordinary 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.

Originally published in 1974 and rediscovered forty years later, this is the first edition of W-3 to be published in the UK. With 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 . . . At last it had dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.’

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