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Back in Print: Barbara Comyns’ Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead

A new press called Dorothy has reissued a remarkable little book, first published in 1955: Barbara Comyns’ strange and beautiful Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead. I had previously only read Comyns’ The Vet’s Daughter, a wonderful, brutal little book, so I was very excited to see more of her work made available.

Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead is the story of the Willoweed family and their little village, which is inflicted by a sort of madness that causes suicides. It sounds the plot of a Thomas Bernhard novel but Comyns’ writing couldn’t be more different: simple, elegant, at times childlike, and always very beautiful.

The Dorothy Project has done a really nice job with this book, giving it new cover art, an introduction from Brian Evenson, and a solid typesetting job (something that in my estimation has been lacking lately from a lot of small new presses). Highly recommended. Buy directly from the publisher or get it at Small Press Distribution.

Discussion

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  1. This is such a fabulous novel – my favourite Comyns (although they are all good) and I am looking forward to reading the new introduction.

    What good news!

    Hannah

    Posted by Hannah Stoneham | November 12, 2010, 2:26 pm
  2. An excellent book, different from Comyns’ earlier work but equally odd and wonderful. I should write something up on it myself, but I just wanted to urge people to check it out.

    Posted by David Auerbach | November 15, 2010, 8:52 am


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