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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 143

Bette Pesetsky 1932–

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American short story writer and novelist.

Pesetsky's fiction focuses on the dispirited lives of female protagonists whose ennui can usually be attributed to unstable or failed relationships. Isolation, estrangement, and hopelessness are themes which permeate and connect the stories of the author's first work, Stories Up to a Point (1982).

Though similar to the stories in its dark themes and cutting humor, Pesetsky's first novel, Author from a Savage People (1983), ostensibly offers the possibility of escaping despair through action. Rather than accept her underpaid position as a ghostwriter, May Alto, the protagonist, blackmails her famous client. The ironic result is that May, angered by oppression, becomes oppressive.

Pesetsky is generally regarded as a skillful writer. While her stylistic economy has at times been seen as a deficiency, most critics praise Pesetsky's unadorned prose style as being reflective of her characters' bleak lives.

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Christopher Lehmann-Haupt

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