Saturday, August 20, 2016

A taste for scrutiny …

… The Comic Genius You’ve Never Heard Of - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In 1987, Gore Vidal wrote an influential essay in which he described her as America’s “best comic novelist,” and a few of her books were reissued. In the 1990s, Tim Page, a Pulitzer Prize–winning music critic, having stumbled on Edmund Wilson’s 1962 encomium to Powell, began editing her diaries and letters; his biography of Powell came out in 1998. In 2001, the Library of America published nine of her novels. But still: She has remained, in literary terms, a hip boutique hotel rather than some stately five-star palace.


  1. They keep trying to push Dawn Powell on us. Still we don't bite. Perhaps "comic" is not the word they want for what she delivered? (I say this remembering Vidal's original essay and my attempt at reading one of her books.)

  2. I take that, Bill, as a cautionary note. I've not read her, and what is cited does not draw me to her.

  3. As they say in the computer world, "for some value of 'you'."

    I suppose that I would class Powell as a satirist. There are very funny bits, but generally with a bite. By now I have read four of her novels, without especially seeking them out. The best still seems to me the first one I read, The Locusts Have No King.