Author(s): Maude Hutchins
Victorine is thirteen, and she can't get the unwanted surprise of her newly sexual body, in all its polymorphous and perverse insistence, out of her mind: it is a trap lying in wait for her at every turn (and nowhere, for some reason, more than in church). Meanwhile, Victorine's older brother Costello is struggling to hold his own against the overbearing, mean-spirited, utterly ghastly Hector L'Hommedieu, a paterfamilias who collects and discards mistresses with scheming abandon even as Allison, his wife, drifts through life in a narcotic daze. And Maude Hutchins's Victorine? It's a sly, shocking, one-of-a-kind novel that explores sex and society with wayward and unabashedly weird inspiration, a drive-by snapshot of the great abject American family in its suburban haunts by a literary maverick whose work looks forward to-and sometimes outstrips-David Lynch's Blue Velvet and the contemporary paintings of Lisa Yuskavage and John Currin.
"If a Colette were possible in this country, that is presumably what Maude Hutchins would like to be. The sensuous is her window on the world; sexuality is the sea for all her voyages..." -"New York Times"
"Maude Hutchins writes like a lascivious I. Compton-Burnett." "--Time"
"The novels of Hutchins [are] witty and intelligent." -"Studies in the 20th Century"
""Victorine"..established her reputation as a richly ironical imagist." "-Time"
"Maude Hutchins has a forcefully genuine talent...Like Iris Murdoch, she is among the most imaginatively creative women writing in English." -Terry Southern, "New York Times"
Maude Phelps Mcveigh Hutchins (1899-1991) was born in New York City. Her mother came from an old New England family, and her father was an editor at the New York Sun. Orphaned at a young age, Maude and her sister were raised by their aunt, a prominent member of Long Island society. Maude attended a finishing school, and soon after graduating became engaged to Robert Maynard Hutchins, who, at the age of thirty, would leave his post as the dean of the Yale Law School to become president of the University of Chicago. Maude Hutchins studied painting and sculpture at Yale, participated in exhibitions at major museums and galleries, and collaborated with Mortimer Adler on a collection of "psychological drawings" and poems entitled Diagrammatics. In 1948, after the collapse of her marriage, she moved with two of her three daughters to Connecticut and took up writing, publishing nine novels, as well as short stories, plays, and poems, over the next twenty years. Her books include A Diary of Love, The Memoirs of Maisie, and Honey on the Moon. Maude Hutchins was also an accomplished amateur pilot who made a number of cross-country trips in her small plane. Terry Castle has published eight books of literary and cultural criticism including Masquerade and Civilization, The Apparitional Lesbian, and the prize-winning collection The Literature of Lesbianism: A Historical Anthology from Ariosto to Stonewall. She writes frequently for the London Review of Books, The Atlantic, The New Republic, and The Times Literary Supplement. In 1997 she was named Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities at Stanford.