One Small Saga
Author: Bobbie Louise Hawkins
Publisher: Ugly Duckling Presse (2020)
Originally published by Coffee House Press in 1984, One Small Saga—one of Bobbie Louise Hawkins' most personal and haunting autobiographical novels—is now back in print. This revival edition also includes a new introduction by Laird Hunt and Eleni Sikelianos, an interview with the author about the writing of One Small Saga conducted in 2011 by Barbara Henning, and the Hawkins' long-out-of-print short story "En Route," another travel narrative, originally published as a chapbook by Little Dinosaur Press in 1982.
The story begins in the late 1940s, when a young Albuquerque bride accompanies her husband back to his family home in Denmark, then to London and the British colonies of Jamaica and British Honduras. The narrator endures the company of both pathetic and incorrigible characters while struggling to reconcile her idealization of The Modern Marriage with the painful reality of life with a philandering husband. Through the widening eyes of her protagonist, who develops into a woman of depth and vision, Ms. Hawkins creates characters who must adjust to the demands of others and of circumstances. Some relinquish the ability to communicate with others. For a few, adjustment means learning how to communicate with grace and tolerance. Told with humor, compassion, and just a hint of sarcasm, One Small Saga ultimately becomes a story of human compromise and adaptation to the quiet disasters of an ordinary life.
"With brilliant poetic leaps, Bobbie Louise Hawkins tells the semi-autobiographical story of a nineteen-year-old girl who is whisked away from her working-class life in West Texas by a well-to-do Danish architect to live in London and then in Belise. The narrator is nineteen years old, sharp, witty, an artist, and so cool that she can play down her own heartbreak. 'Sometimes I feel I live in this world like a tenant.' Instead of romanticizing the story, Hawkins’ narrator sizes up those around her (including herself), with an understated poetic style and an eye especially sensitive to hypocrisy. One can’t help falling in love with One Small Saga."
"How happy I am to have finally read this extraordinary novella by Bobbie Louise Hawkins. It's full of levity and ease and wit, and I traveled through it as the narrator travels from one part of her life to the next, from one country to another, while she becomes, with a real sense of pleasure, who she was meant to be. I haven't said anything so far about the patterns of the sentences & paragraphs & pages & narrative of One Small Saga, yet I am speaking of them too, the imprint they make in the mind, which is also infinitely pleasing. I loved this book."