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The Little Bastard

The novella The Little Bastard marks the debut of a remarkable writer whose fiction was never published in her lifetime.


Simultaneously funny and bold, unique and universal, this story takes place during 1940, that sliver of hope between the Depression and World War II. Esther McQuinn suffers through a phantom pregnancy while desperately awaiting a baby to adopt. Esther lives in The Gardens, a close-knit St. Louis New Deal public housing project. Her neighbors, including a young mother who serves as our narrator, try to distract her from her overactive imagination by getting involved in a scandalous political campaign. From there the plot takes madcap twists and turns, and the book alternates between insightful family drama and breathtaking political thriller.


The story’s author, Frances “Peggy” Schutze, née Harvey, lived with her husband in The Neighborhood Gardens, a St. Louis New Deal public housing project, in the late 1930s and early 1940s, an experience that surely inspired The Little Bastard. Schutze's own life story is just as rich as her characters' — she attended journalism school and entertained dreams of the writer's life, but when her husband joined the church she found she had been given a new career, that of preacher's wife and mother to their four children.

 

After Schutze's death, a family member discovered the typewritten drafts of The Little Bastard in a pile of papers about to be thrown away; Schutze's granddaughter combined the drafts and submitted them for publication. Anchor & Plume is pleased to be publishing this beautiful, lovingly produced, limited edition of Schutze's novella, with illustrations and cover design by Schutze's daughter, Peggy Schutze Shearn, and an introduction by Schutze's granddaughter, novelist Amy Shearn.

Praise for The Little Bastard:

 

"Frances Schutze welcomes us into a time of hope as the Great Depression lifts, families grow, and new friends are made. Like Tillie Olsen and Muriel Rukeyser, she gives us a glimpse into the overlapping spheres of everyday life. I loved Schutze's voice--droll and sincere--and appreciate that every word she chose allows us to hear a by-gone era once again."

 

  - Ronlyn Domingue, author of the KEEPER OF TALES Trilogy


"Get ready to fall hard for the close-knit, street-smart community inside The Gardens. What a fervent and enviable time in history, back when the adults ran the show, not the kids; and privacy was okay, in moderation, because life was more richly lived within view. This small book is a huge treat."

 

  - Pia Z. Ehrhardt, author of FAMOUS FATHERS AND OTHER STORIES

 

 

More About The Little Bastard
 

"The Story Behind The Little Bastard" - The Hairpin

 

"My Grandma Fetish" - The Begats

 

"What a Long-Lost Family Story Taught Me About Parenting, Writing, and More" – Huffington Post 

 

"Neighborhood Gardens: A Housing Project Built of Unbridled Optimism" – JSTOR Daily