Never Breathe a Word: The Collected Stories of Caroline Blackwood

Caroline Blackwood, Author . Counterpoint $25 (366p) ISBN 978-1-58243-569-5

A selection of grimly compelling fiction and journalistic pieces by Blackwood (1931–1996), the Irish-born author and wife to Lucian Freud and Robert Lowell, spotlights her sharp-edged observations. Blackwood frequently excoriates her characters, starting with the painter's widow of “The Interview,” who holds forth with a young journalist and reveals nasty details of her marriage. Many of the characters are outsized meanies: the greedy, tyrannical nanny in “The Baby Nurse” takes over a family's London flat when the new baby arrives and the new mother sinks into a severe postpartum depression; while in “Taft's Wife,” a social worker endures an excruciating, drunken lunch with a prosperous, depraved mother and the 14-year-old son she once put up for adoption. Shocking, too, is the owner of a beauty parlor in “Who Needs It?” who sacks a new hire because the concentration camp numbers tattooed on her arm dampen the lighthearted mood of her salon. A handful of nonfiction pieces explore the author's childhood and the “bourgeois fantasy” of the Beatniks to round out this accomplished oeuvre by an author who should be better known in the States. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/21/2009
Release date: 02/01/2010
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-1-58243-707-1
Open Ebook - 375 pages - 978-1-58243-686-9
Show other formats
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!