ONE SMALL SAGA by Bobbie Louise Hawkins
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.
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.
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.
"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. "
— Amina Cain
Bobbie Louise Hawkins (1930-2018) wrote more than twenty books of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and performance monologues. She performed her work at Joseph Papp’s Public Theater, Bottom Line and Folk City in New York City; at The Great American Music Hall and Intersection in San Francisco, as well as reading and performing in Canada, England, Germany, Japan, Holland, and more. In England she worked with Apples and Snakes, read at the Canterbury Festival and the Poetry Society. She was commissioned to write a one-hour play for Public Radio’s “The Listening Ear,” and she has a record, with Rosalie Sorrels and Terry Garthwaite, Live At the Great American Music Hall, available from Flying Fish. She was invited by Anne Waldman and Allen Ginsberg to begin a prose concentration in the writing program at Naropa University where she taught for twenty years. She was also a visual artist known specifically for her collage work. Growing up in West Texas, Hawkins was raised on the family tales her grandmother told; having spent her childhood reading, Hawkins believed she would someday live in the world she only read about in books. Her life and work intersected with both that of the Beat Generation and the Black Mountain poets.