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Cry of the Tinamou

"Babb is a writer of great skill and humanity. A spirit of wise humor and compassion invests her stories, which deal with human struggle and endurance. She is a clear-eyed observer of human behavior, a lyric poet of great sensitivity, and a gentle satirist of human folly. Grounded firmly in place and social circumstances, her writing speaks to timeless concerns. Babb is a consummate artist of the short-story form.”—Douglas Wixson, English Professor Emeritus

From the Introduction by Alan M. Wald, Professor of English Literature, University of Michigan and author of Exiles from a Future Time:

For more than five decades, the delicate, lucid, and well-crafted prose of Sanora Babb has appeared in an uncommon range of magazines and journals. From the late 1920s to the present [1997], Babb's stories can be found in proletarian regional "little magazines", left-leaning publications, university publications, and mass-market magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post.

. . . lack of identification with a single subject area and a stable publishing venue are not the only reasons why a writer of such originality and quality as Babb, whose forte is the revelation of the subtleties of character, seems to have fallen between the cracks of literary history. Born in 1907, Ms. Babb is not a prolific author compared to contemporaries Lillian Hellman, Mary McCarthy, Albert Maltz, John Steinbeck, and Richard Wright. Moreover, as a writer who produced during the revolutionary 1930s as well as the repressive 1950s, her work evidences sharp periods.

. . . it is the pull of emotion, not the shock of naturalism, or the defamiliarization techniques of modernism, by which Babb aspires to infect her readers with a moral and social consciousness. . . .

Above all, Babb’s stories are replete with the incipient feminism (although she herself might not use the term) associated with her female characters of various ages who transgress socially ascribed gender roles—or who fail to cross such boundaries, sometimes for understandable reasons, at their own peril. . . .Babb’s art is itself a gift to her readers, a gesture of solidarity across cultures expressing her sympathetic recognition of the slow and painful process of human self-emancipation.