Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saturday Biography--Rough Magic: The Biography of Sylvia Plath

Title: Rough Magic: a Biography of Sylvia Plath

Author: Paul Alexander

About the Author:  Paul Alexander, an Alabama-born writer, is the author of a number of important biographies, a journalist and playwright. He attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and studied with Marvin Bell. His subjects have included Andy Warhol, George W. Bush, James Dean and John Kerry. He developed a fascination with poet and novelist Sylvia Plath and engaged the help of her mother in researching this book because his interest focused on the writer’s work rather than the sensational aspects of her life, including her suicide.

Story Summary: Alexander presents a detailed account of Plath’s life, beginning in childhood when the death of her father figured significantly into the poet’s emotional development. He demonstrates the genesis of Plath’s mental illness, her life-long search for love and acceptance, the brilliance and quick success of her writing career, her marriage and its subsequent dissolution. Plath spent her later years in London when her husband, acclaimed British poet Ted Hughes, abandoned her and their children for another woman. The narrative shows that Sylvia was the force behind Hughes’ success, serving as his typist, submitting his work—all to the neglect of her own. Toward the end of her short life she did achieve recognition, winning a Pulitzer Prize for her poetry. She eventually succumbed to her battle with depression when she committed suicide in 1963.

Recommendation: Tipper Gore, wife of the former Vice-President of the United States, acclaimed this book for addressing the subject of mental illness. For me, it was a compelling story, however it took me over a month to read. I had to take a few breaks because of the heavy nature of the story, but the more off-putting aspect of the read was the plethora of details that seemed to choke the story flow. The author no doubt used Plath’s journals to assure the accuracy of his reportage, but I found that I didn’t need to know about every single date she went on, with whom, where they went and what they ate. These minutiae became burdensome to me as the reader. I’m glad, however, that I didn’t abandon the read as I was often tempted to do. The overall story was worth the tedium.

For Bluebell Books, I'm Victoria Ceretto-Slotto, happy to present this review for you. I'd like to invite you to visit my new website  where I'm pleased to announce the publication of my novel, "Winter is Past," published by Lucky Bat Books. Details are available on the website. Thanks for allowing me to be a part of Bluebell Books, and please forgive my shameless self-promotion.


Bluebell Books said...

well done, Victoria,

happy to see you new book ready to sell.
good luck.

Victoria Ceretto-Slotto said...

Thank you, Ji. You are an inspiration and good friend.