Books by Maureen Howard

THE SILVER SCREEN by Maureen Howard
Released: Aug. 9, 2004

"Meticulous and graceful, though some may find the allusions, dense sentences, and sometimes-opaque narrative a touch rarefied."
A woman renounces a promising film career to raise two children, their life journeys weaving a gossamer tale of transitions and death. Read full book review >
BIG AS LIFE by Maureen Howard
Released: May 21, 2001

"Howard's abundant career has been notable for its inventive amplitude—a feature that her most recent gathering demonstrates with powerful, if occasionally allusive, storytelling."
A trio of tales in the second of Howard's novels (after A Lover's Almanac, 1998) planned for each of the seasons. Spring, in her sophisticated vision, is a time of imaginative generosity, generative creation, and the bright moment when human finitude is brought into relief. Read full book review >
A LOVER'S ALMANAC by Maureen Howard
Released: Jan. 1, 1998

The attempt here—a novel as expansive as an almanac, with a bit of everything in it—raises Howard's latest sometimes to considerable heights but as often slows it to a crawl through lives and commentary not always interesting enough for the trip. Louise Moffett, b. 1968, comes to New York from Wisconsin to find her fortune as an artist, and in doing so becomes the lover (later the mate) of gifted ne'er-do-well Artie Freeman. We meet the two at a party on the last night of the 20th century—when Artie proposes but, due to extreme drunkenness, flubs the moment, offends Lou, finds himself exiled from her downtown loft—and retreats to his grandfather Cyril's Fifth Avenue apartment. Moving from winter solstice to spring equinox, Howard's novel follows the lovers as they mope, pine, and are reunited, while those same three winter months afford plenty of space to fill in family backgrounds. Lou's farmer-scientist father (a prof in animal husbandry) failed to understand his daughter's emerging art, her mother went underappreciated, and research scientist Aunt Bea provided a role-model of dedication to her calling. As for math whiz yet school-dropout Artie: His unmarried ex-hippie mother, now dead, never revealed who his father was, leaving Artie eternally in a paternity search; and his widowed grandfather, Cyril, after a Wall Street career, retreated into books of American history—emerging only to continue a romance begun 50 years earlier with Sylvie Neiswonger, who, at 12, fled the Nazis through a backyard in Austria after being raped by a German soldier. Throughout, Howard sprinkles bits of zodiacal lore, rhymes of planting advice, snippets of biographies (Edison, Haydn, Mendel) remarks about computers, electronics, the information glut—all symbolically converging in Lou's newest gallery show of family lore, trinkets, cast-offs, and (literally) broken hearts. A worthy gathering—sometimes Dos Passos, sometimes Faulkner, sometimes Howard—that would have offered greater pleasures, as almanac and otherwise, at, say, two thirds its length. Read full book review >
NATURAL HISTORY by Maureen Howard
Released: Nov. 2, 1992

James Bray, a Hollywood actor looking for some kind of meaningful resurrection, is drawn back to his Bridgeport, Connecticut, home in search of animating memories of his hard-working detective father and a frustrating murder case he lost during the war—a case involving a socialite and a soldier. Meanwhile, James's sister Catherine, a Time-Life editor tired of the evanescent sameness of yet another married-man-affair in a Village apartment, has already returned to Bridgeport to become a successful weaver, living low-profile in a house she shares with a virgin ex-nun social worker, Mary Boyle. James hardly knows what he wants from Bridgeport—but at least will discover that what he wants from life, in general, is something he's probably already tasted. Howard (Expensive Habits, 1986; Grace Abounding, 1982, etc.), one of the most intelligent and careful of American novelists, has dipped into the narrative-oddity-bag for this one, however. She tells the story anywhichway but straight: through film-like montage techniques; impacted italics; a section dubbed ``double-entry bookkeeping,'' in which left-hand pages comment on or diverge from the story on the right. It's a job, in fact, simply to punch air-holes into Howard's ever-more crabbed paragraphs (``Wool pulled over our eyes and we love it. Big shadow of James, his grandiose gestures. I been telling true. How it came to pass I went into the eternal Cal. light, got my ass out of the swell chair—no knockoff- -out of the swell room'') and figure out what a character is saying. The Bray dignity that is the family's chief mark is always submerged in the muddy shallows of the stylistics; how palpable and real both James and Catherine are must finally be guessed at, rather than sensually appreciated. Puzzlingly self-defeating. Read full book review >