Sacrificial June

June was all about giving up various elements of my life for the sake of family. I’ll go off the book review protocol to say one nice gesture threw off a myriad of plans. Because of one nice gesture I:

  • sacrificed a camping trip,
  • postponed my first trip of the season to Monhegan,
  • cancelled plans with my mother,
  • lost four training days,
  • lost hours of sleep but gained a kink in my back due to sleeping on an air mattress,
  • got behind on reading and writing end of year reports,
  • spent more money than I budgeted due to a cancelled flight,
  • missed a day of work, and
  • have no idea if I actually helped or not.

Anyway. Enough of that. On with the books:

Fiction:

  • Book of Reuben by Tabitha King
  • Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • Sun Storm by Asa Larsson

Nonfiction:

  • Soldiers of God by Robert Kaplan
  • From a Persian Tea House by Michael Carroll

Series continuations:

  • Prelude to Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  • Because of the Cats by Nicholas Freeling
  • Blue at the Mizzen by Patrick O’Brian
  • Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope

Short Stories:

  • “Shadow Show” by Clifford Simak
  • “The Life and Times of Estelle Walks Above”
    by Sherman Alexie
  • “At the Rialto” by Connie Willis
  • “The Answers” by Clifford Simak
  • “Garden Party” by Katherine Mansfield
  • “What You Pawn I will Redeem” by Sherman Alexie
  • “Brokeback Mountain” by Annie Proulx
  • “Harrowing Journey” by Joel P. Kramer
  • “Ado” by Connie Willis

Bell Jar

Plath, Sylvia. The Bell Jar. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2000.

Reason read: In June there are overnight Suicide Prevention Walks around the country.

Frances McCullough’s 1996 introduction to The Bell Jar calls it a twin to Catcher in the Rye as it was published on Rye’s twentieth anniversary.

I think it is safe to say The Bell Jar is a classic. Haunting and hurtful, you have to almost flinch away from the mental illness that descends on protagonist Esther Greenwood. Every time she fixates on a way to commit suicide you wonder, does she actually go through with it this time? Does she succeed? Then when you discover The Bell Jar is autobiographical it all makes sense and you think you know the answer.


There were so many different lines I wanted to quote. Because I connected to them so deeply, here are a few of my favorites, “There is something demoralizing about watching two people get more and more crazy about each other, especially when you are the only extra person in the room” (p 29), “There is nothing like puking with somebody to make you into old friends” (p 53), “I thought if only I had a keen, shapely bone structure to my face or could discuss politics shrewdly or was a famous writer Constantin might find me interesting enough to sleep with” (p 87) and “I tried to speak in a cool, calm way, but the zombie rose up in my throat and choked me off” (p 129).

Author fact: Plath died at the young age of 30 on February 11th, 1963. She used the pseudonym of Victoria Lucas from time to time. The Bell Jar was published under the name Lucas,

Book trivia: The Bell Jar was rejected as being too juvenile the first time it was submitted for publication.

Nancy said: Pearl called The Bell Jar “painful.” I would agree.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Girls Growing Up” (p 102).


June Not Jumping

This has become a morbid joke but I’m not going to the island so there is no chance of me jumping off anything this month. There is time for books, though. Here’s the list:

Fiction:

  • Book of Reuben by Tabitha King – in honor of June being the month when a lot of people (my sister included) like to get married.
  • Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – in honor of Suicide Prevention Day being in June in some states.
  • Sun Storm by Asa Larsson – in honor of Larsson’s birth month being in June.

Nonfiction:

  • Soldiers of God by Robert Kaplan – in honor of Kaplan’s birth month being in June.
  • From a Persian Tea House by Michael Carroll – in recognition of Khomeini’s death in the month of June.

Series continuations:

  • Because of the Cats by Nicholas Freeling – to continue the series started in May.
  • Prelude to Foundation by Isaac Asimov – to continue the never-ending series started in January.
  • Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope – to continue the series started in April.
  • Blue at the Mizzen by Patrick O’Brian – to continue the series started in May.

Short stories for National Short Story Month:

  • “Shadow Show” by Clifford Simak
  • “The Answers” by Clifford Simak
  • “The Life and Times of Estelle…” by Sherman Alexie
  • “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” by Sherman Alexie
  • “Garden Party” by Katherine Mansfield
  • “At the Rialto” by Connie Willis

Ariel

Plath, Sylvia. Ariel: the Restored Edition.New York: Harper Perennial, 2004.

Sylvia Plath wrote with such raw energy and emotion. Her essence is on every page, in every word. Nowhere is that more plain to see than in the collected poems in Ariel. As the last collection of poetry written before her death it is riddled with references to death. That is to be expected from one suffering from depression, on the wrong kind of medicine, and already an attempted suicide survivor. It’s as if death is stalking her, wooing her (case in point: the last line of “Death & Co” is “somebody is done for” (p 36) and “Dying is an art…I do it exceptionally well” (p 15). I chose to read Ariel: the Restored Edition and now that I’ve thought about it I don’t think it’s the version Pearl was referring to (see BookLust Twist). Oh well.

Favorite lines – the first being from Path’s daughter, Frieda, in the foreword, “The manuscript was digging up everything that must be shed in order to move on” (p xiv – xv).

Reason read: Although we are getting to the end of the month April is still National Poetry Month.

Author fact: Everyone knows a little something about Sylvia Plath (Smith College, Ted Hughes, suicide, etc), but what I recently learned was that she was born in Boston.

Book trivia: If you haven’t read Ariel I would suggest skipping the version Ted Hughes introduced to the world and pick up the one his daughter, Frieda Hughes, wrote the foreword for, Ariel: the Restored Edition. It is far more informative.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “You Can’t Judge a Book By Its Cover” (p 237). Oddly enough, Ariel is not a recommendation by Pearl. She merely uses it as an example of a recognizable cover when discussing Alan Powers’s book Front Cover: Great Book Jacket and Cover Design.