The Next Chapter·DOG-EARED READS

Why Patrick deWitt is a fan of the 1943 novel Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles

The author of The Sisters Brothers and French Exit talks about why he loves the classic novel.

'In reading Two Serious Ladies, you see how unique and strange a book can be.'

Patrick DeWitt is the author of novels The Sisters Brothers and French Exit. (Kelly Reichardt, HarperCollins)

This interview originally aired on Sept. 21, 2019.

Patrick deWitt is a novelist from Portland, Ore., by way of Vancouver Island. He is the author of several novels, including The Sisters BrothersUndermajordomo Minor and French Exit, which was on the shortlist for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize and is set to be adapted into a film.

One book that deWitt loves to go back to is the 1943 novel Two Serious Ladies by the late American author Jane Bowles. 

"It is a book about two upper middle-class women in the 1940s. It's about their travels and adventures and the strangeness of their lives and life in general. I return to this book over and over again because of it being so unique a novel. I don't think anyone could have written it but Jane Bowles. She was a strange person with a particular point of view.

"Her wit is just brutally caustic. Her love of language is evident on every page and in every sentence. She was a master craftsperson. This is owing to her unique perspective and being a genius with language. In reading Two Serious Ladies, you see how unique and strange a book can be while also maintaining its accessibility."

Patrick deWitt's comments have been edited for length and clarity. 

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