Honor Moore at The Paris Review:
There is a way in which all of Bette Howland’s characters seem like visitors from a parallel universe, where they are free rather than confined. This is the eponymous visitor in the opening story of this collection: “I was catching on at last. The bad roads, the crash, the minor injury. This petty bureaucrat. This place. Sir? I’m dead? Is that it? I’m dead? … That’s what they all want to know! he said. But that’s the whole show! I can’t give that away, can I?” An uncle’s young wife is “a big handsome Southern girl, rawboned, rock jawed, her pale head dropped over her knitting. Peculiarly pale; translucent, like rock candy, and almost as brittle.” It is as if they step into a room accompanied by their own lighting. “ ‘When are you going to get married?’ Uncle Rudy asked, towering over me.” Imagination is what she calls what she does with them, imaginative selection from the panoply of life. “He’s a scofflaw. He’ll go out of his way to park illegally. He’ll drive around the block looking for a No Parking sign or a nice little fire hydrant.” Reading the prose brings a Bette I’d forgotten—a glass of Scotch, how she threw back her head and uproariously laughed. Ah, yes; here’s the one with verve, the woman in the fedora photo.