Hauser and Sandoz

This is a profile of Marianne Hauser, written for the Mari Sandoz Heritage Newsletter, Spring 2001, by Richard F. Voorhees. The occasion was her 90th birthday and the place was New York, where she lived. This profile is fascinating for the light it sheds on one of Hauser’s most important, and best, books, The Memoirs of the Late Mr. Ashley. (The Publisher’s Weekly review of the book is beyond idiotic! Read mine instead). According to Voorhees the model for Mr. Ashley was a man named Wesley Towner, one of Hauser’s close friends and drinking buddies, and the author of The Elegant Auctioneers. In the novel, Ashley is supposed to be writing a non-fiction opus about southern mansions, his lack of production notoriously disguised by the tape recording of a clacking typewriter. Towner, unlike Ashley, mostly completed his book before dying. Towner’s family owned the building Mari Sandoz lived in. In this profile Voorhees also discusses how Sandoz and Hauser became friends, and the encouragement Sandoz gave her when writing The Choir Invisible. Richard Voorhees is a fascinating man in his own right. It’s not a surprise that he and Hauser would hit it off.
voorhees.hauser.sandoz

voorhees.hauser.sandoz.2

Published by

Jon Frankel

This website is dedicated to the life and career of novelist Marianne Hauser (1910-2006). Marianne Hauser wrote 9 novels, and dozens of short stories. Her first novel, Monique, was published in German when she was 22 and living in Paris. Her last novel, Shootout with Father, was published by FC2 in 2002, when she was 91. She moved to New York in 1937 after traveling through Asia and North Africa alone, as a reporter. Only three of her works remain in print today: The Talking Room, her best known work, a brilliant, subversive and hilarious novel about a pregnant 13 year old being raised by warring lesbian parents, published by the Fiction Collective in 1976, Shootout with Father, and The Collected Short Fiction of Marianne Hauser (2004). These books are available from FC2. Her other American books, Dark Dominion (1947), The Choir Invisible (1958), Prince Ishmael (1963), A Lesson in Music (1964), The Late Memoirs of Mr. Ashley (1986), and Me & My Mom (1993), are out of print but easy to find used and in libraries.
This is a collaborative project. Its purpose is to promote her work and make available to interested readers as much information as I can unearth about her. In Hauser’s long life she made many professional and personal friends. Her agent was Perry Knowlton and her first book was published by Bennett Cerf six years after she took him to task over Gertrude Stein in her New York Times review of Ida. In 1963 Prince Ishmael was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and was a New York Times notable book of the year. From the 1970s through to 2004 her writing was published and reviewed by different incarnations of the Fiction Collective and Sun & Moon Press. She wrote reviews for the American Book Review and appeared in journals like Fiction International, Blatant Artifice, Witness.
If you knew her or are studying her work I welcome contributions, memoirs, interviews, letters, analyses, what have you. Since at least the seventies writers have lamented that she is not better known. Many people have tried to bring her greater recognition: Alice S. Morris, Anais Nin, Marguerite Young, the writers at the Fiction Collective, Larry McCaffery, Sinda Gregory, Douglas Messerli, Margot Mifflin, Ed Cardoni, and Professor Andrea L. Harris, among others. Just about everyone who has written about her has wondered why her work is neglected. Hauser cared little for self-promotion and was impatient with compromise. She was an anti-authoritarian enchantress, intelligent, intuitive, playful, and genuine. She wrote every day on a small manual Olivetti typewriter and tirelessly revised. She was passionate about politics and art. Friends called her Bear. Her final work, Little Buttercup, written for her granddaughter, is subtitled, the happiest bear in the world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *