Available for Review: Love, H: The Letters of Helene Dorn and Hettie Jones
Duke University Press, Publication Date October 18, 2016
For many years people have been asking writer Hettie Jones to write a follow-up to her successful 1991 memoir How I Became Hettie Jones. This fascinating collection of letter is her answer to those requests.
From their first meeting in 1960, writer Hettie Jones—then married to LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka)—and painter and sculptor Helene Dorn (1927–2004), wife of poet Ed Dorn, found in each other more than friendship. They were each other's confidant, emotional support, and unflagging partner through difficulties, defeats, and victories, from surviving divorce and struggling as single mothers, to finding artistic success in their own right.
Revealing the intimacy of lifelong friends, these letters tell two stories from the shared point of view of women who refused to go along with society’s expectations. Jones frames her and Helene's story, adding details and explanations while filling in gaps in the narrative. As she writes, "we'd fled the norm for women then, because to live it would have been a kind of death."
Apart from these two personal stories, there are, as well, reports from the battlegrounds of women's rights and tenant's rights, reflections on marriage and motherhood, and contemplation of the past to which these two had remained irrevocably connected. Prominent figures such as Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary appear as well, making Love, H an important addition to literature on the Beats.
Above all, this book is a record of the changing lives of women artists as the twentieth century became the twenty-first, and what it has meant for women considering such a life today. It's worth a try, Jones and Dorn show us, offering their lives as proof that it can be done.
"This moving portrait of a friendship has much to offer those with an interest in the lives of women writers and artists." — Publishers Weekly
"What does emerge is an inkling of the friendship, understanding, and empathy between the two women who saw themselves as 'Babes in Boyland.'... A fertile trove...." — Kirkus Reviews
To request a review copy, contact Laura Sell, Publicity, Duke University Press. firstname.lastname@example.org