Cover image for Indivisible
Howe, Fanny.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Los Angeles, Calif. : Semiotext(e) ; Cambridge, Mass. : Distributed by MIT Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
283 pages ; 18 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This odd, transcendent and triumphant novel completes Howe's series of quasi-autobiographical, radically philosophical fictions begun in 1972.

This odd, transcendent and triumphant novel published in 2000 completes a quasi-autobiographical, radically philosophical series of fictions Howe began with First Marriage, published in 1972. Like Howe, Henny's life spans the tempestuous multi-racial world of hipsters and activists in working-class Boston during the 60s and its subsequent fall-out. On the verge of religious conversion, Henny, the book's narrator, locks her husband McCool in a closet so that she might talk better to God. Then she proceeds to make peace with the dead by telling their stories. Lewis, Henny's true love, is a wheelchair-bound black activist and political journalist whose working-class mother is jailed when the group's cache of explosives is found in her home. Then there's their wealthy friend Libby, who crosses the globe in search of enlightenment and spiritual peace. Guiding these characters on their journey are figures as divergent as Nietzsche and Bambi, Marx and St. John of the Cross. As Christopher Martin writes in Rain Taxi, Henny's function as a narrator is to hoist the entire structure of the novel onto her brittle, uneven shoulders and deliver all the embarrassing facts directly to us, her reader/God--only then do we realize the full breadth and beauty of the narrative Howe has surreptitiously constructed all along.

Author Notes

Fanny Howe is the author of several works of fiction (most recently, Economics from Flood Editions) and collections of poems, including One Crossed Out and Gone. She is the winner of the 2000 Lenore Marshall Award for her Selected Poems. Her first collection of essays, The Wedding Dress, was published by UC Press in the Fall of 2003. She lives in Massachusetts but remains Professor Emeritus at UCSD in the Department of Literature.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Experimental poet and novelist Howe tells the story of modern-day martyr Henny, a filmmaker living in a working-class Boston neighborhood and married to McCool, an alcoholic musician whose jealousy and depression lead to tragedy. The couple have never had children of their own; instead, Henny raises a band of foster children and opens her dilapidated home to transients for extra money. But the most significant connections in her life are those she forges with her friends. Libby, whom she has known since childhood, when her mother was Libby's family's maid, is a wealthy but troubled "free spirit" who is strangely loyal to Henny, even as she betrays her by sleeping with McCool (albeit with permission). Lewis, Henny's first love, is a wheelchair-bound black activist and writer. Henny turns to mysticism and philosophy to attempt to make sense of her lifeÄBuddhism, Marxism and Catholicism are just a few of her guiding forces; figures as divergent as Nietzsche and Bambi also serve as touchstones. On a practical level, the novel is sometimes confusing: Henny, though rooted in Boston, bounces among locales without much explanation, and time is anything but linear. Issues of race, class, sex and religion are seized upon and abandoned, and a few peripheral characters are never sufficiently fleshed out. Somehow, though, as viewed through Henny's eyes and embodied in her elliptical, dreamlike films, the strange logic of the novel hangs together "like finding meteor pebbles in the sole of your sneaker." (Jan.) Forecasts: Fans of Howe's poetry should enjoy this one, as should readers who relish the work of such avant-garde gender-benders as Anne Carson. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved