The Narrow House, Evelyn Scott

People live nearly atop one another in Evelyn Scott’s The Narrow House, a suffocating invocation of middle-class provinciality in early 20th century America (Theodore Dreiser, none too cheery a sort himself, called it one of the “grimmest” books he’d read, apparently). Indeed, it’s a bit difficult to read, but her unflinching portrait of people hurting each other and themselves -- there’s a rather frank description of one character’s habit of self-harm -- is also inspiring, in a way, seeing as it was published in 1921.

Scott, once hailed as one of the country’s best modernist writers, has all but fallen into obscurity; however, several of Scott’s works, including Narcissus, are in the public domain and can be accessed via Project Gutenberg. It may otherwise be difficult to find her texts.