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The Woman Without Experiences

The Woman Without Experiences


Patricia Dienstfrey


    1995, 134 pages

    ISBN 0-932716-37-7



    The starting point of this narrative is a woman at home with young children who feels separated from the urban world of work, her education, her own mother, and her adult self. The double cord binding the moments in her life is the percipient consciousness of the narrator and her encounters with the work of other writers, such as Jean Genet, Simone Weil, and Robert Musil. The narrator's sense of dislocation is transformed from feelings of loss to a recognition of possibility; emptiness and absence prepare an opening for self-knowledge.




    Patricia Dienstfrey's publications include a winner of the America Award for Fiction: The Woman Without Experiences (Kelsey Street Press, 1995). She has also written Love and Illustration (a+bend press, 2000) and The Grand Permission: New Writings on Poetics and Motherhood (Wesleyan, 2003), which she co-edited with Brenda Hillman. Her work has appeared in a number of anthologies, including Moving Borders: Three Decades of Innovative Writing by Women, edited by Mary Margaret Sloan (Talisman House, 1997), and The Addison Street Anthology: Berkeley's Poetry Walk, edited by Robert Hass and Jessica Fisher (Heyday Books, 2004). A co-founder of Kelsey Street Press, she lives with her husband, Ted, in Berkeley, California.


    Winner of The America Awards for Literature, 1996


    I urge those who find the current pre-fab state of American fiction deplorable, with its condescending and cynical formulations, to read Patricia Dienstfrey's The Woman Without Experiences. It's not easy to break from the formal constraints of the typical short story and novel, and only a very few books of contemporary fiction have been able to create new spaces to inhabit. The Woman Without Experiences is such a book: spacious, evocative, elusive and very beautiful.

    —Carole Maso, The Women's Review of Books

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