My Own Alphabet

In a sensitive tribute to the dominating learning experience of our childhood, My Own Alphabet uses each letter of the alphabet to mark Hawkins’ personal vision of what makes the world go round: A is for Attitude and Aging; D is for Death & Dying and Domestic Nirvana; H is for Heartbreak. Reminiscent of Russell Baker’s stories of the South, these full-bellied essays, anecdotes, theatrical monologues, and stories overflow in a cornucopia of rich revelations, experiences, and places, that thoroughly entertain the reader in a witty, provocative, and poignant story-telling style.

“If more writers were writing like Bobbie Louise Hawkins — economically and truly about the only human things that interest us in prose: the past, the family, love, hate, duty, forgiveness — then maybe a few more thousand Americans would be reading narrative fiction and nourishing themselves on the oldest of all safe and enduring pleasures: news and fun and consolation.”
—Reynolds Price

“This quirky, good-natured book follows the alphabet, with each letter given over to a small collection of brief stories, reflections, and quotations. The utterlly unpretentious, slightly scatty contents include comments on the lyrics of “A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody” and a quintessentially Califorian comic monologue in which a woman strikes up a friendship with a man in a parking lot, based on the fact that they have the same bumper stickers (it turns out that he has stolen the car). While the work is wildly uneven, it is likable and engaging. The author is also a stage performer.”
— Penelope Mesic, Booklist

“I’ve often heard of Bobbie Louise Hawkins telling stories (and reading in between the tales) in concert with Terry Garthwaite and/or Rosalie Sorrels. She’s as funny and as serious in print as on the stage in My Own Alphabet.”
— Carol Seajay, Feminist Bookstore News

“Arranging the subjects of her pieces alphabetically (A is for “Absolutes,” L is about her cousin Linda Joy), Hawkins jogs memory and induces fantasy. ‘Dr. Gore was an abortionist,’ begins the first entry; by the second paragraph, it is 1948 and readers are sympathizing with the narrator/patient. In ‘A Thousand Pieces,’ a group of women assemble a puzzle while gossiping about friends. This delightful story could be an emblem for the entire collection: bits and pieces of varying length are juxtaposed and, once fit together, the life of a woman emerges; often she is given the same background as the author, sometimes she is camouflaged. She is divorced after a long marriage, has young children (in several stories) and continually reflects on the past. Hawkins moves with apparent ease from tale to tale, suffusing each with irony, anger or love as the occasion demands. Interspersed epigrams by a range of writers confirm the universality of Hawkins concerns.”
— Publishers Weekly

Review: LA Times
Review: The Vajradhatu Sun
Review: New Delta
Review: Minnesota Literatrure