Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: September 26, 2017
Difficult WomenA Memoir of Three
by David Plante, introduction by Scott Spencer
A delicious sequence of character sketches, interrupted by the occasional self-interrogatory aside....the book succeeds because the women are so horribly alive.
—Christine Smallwood, Harper’s
Difficult Women is creepy, it is cruel, it is morally indefensible — and it is exhilarating….There may be no defending these heartless portrayals, but there’s also no denying their power. Each scene is expertly staged, and burns with the same dark excitement you find in Mary Gaitskill’s fiction or Harold Pinter’s plays, the feeling that these characters have sought one another out to exercise hidden fears and desires, to expose primal wounds.
—Parul Sehgal, The New York Times
Like its three subjects, Difficult Women is consistently interesting. It’s as if Mr. Plante were staring out over a wild and rugged topography of femaleness and wondering how one lives in such a land. It’s a good question and a good book.
—Anatole Broyard, The New York Times
The memoir of Jean Rhys . . . is a remarkable achievement. . . . Plante never forgot who Jean Rhys really was and what made her valuable, so that while he captures neatly the shabby dishevelment of the narcissistic girlwoman fallen into confused old age, he also achieves full recognition for the writer whose eloquence and maturity are endlessly redeeming. . . . [Plante] brings these extremely interesting women to brilliant, mythic life.
[Plante’s] best book to date is Difficult Women, an unflattering account of his friendship with Sonia Orwell, Jean Rhys and Germaine Greer. He...tells it pretty much like it was—and like he was, you imagine.
—London Review of Books