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League of Inveterate Poets

The out-of-context contextuality of a foolish sage

The Secret Life of The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson: Holyoke

| September 13, 2010

It is odd and slightly ironic that one of the most frequent criticisms leveled at The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson (hereinafter The Secret Life) was that it suffered from a lack of citing Miss Dickinson’s poetry. While it may be true that there are very few quotations of her poems in the book, from the very first words, we are fully in the realm of poetry, in her own voice (as author Jerome Charyn imagines it):

“Tom the handyman is wading in the snow outside my window in boots a burglar might wear” (17).

It is imagery true to the Emily we know through her poetry.

Moreover, it introduces one of the central characters (and primary resident of Emily’s dreams), the fictitious Tom Harkin (or Tom the Handyman). Tom is an orphan rescued by the headmistress of Holyoke Female Seminary and taken in to be the school’s handyman. He is forbidden any contact with the female students, thus (along with his shock of blond hair) making him instantly the object of Emily’s desire.

The Secret Life of the Secret Life of Emily Dickinson: An Introduction

| September 11, 2010

This entry is part of a series, Secret Life of The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson» Image via Wikipedia After The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson author Jerome Charyn came upon my review of his novel, he wrote to me on Twitter that “it really is about Emily’s dream life and you’re the first one […]

Review: Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield

| August 21, 2010

It’s been a while since I read a novel that truly fit the old cliche “page turner.” I can truly say, though, that I only ever put my copy of Gates of Fire down because of the necessities of life. It gripped me from page one and did not let go.

Gates of Fire is so much more than an attempt to recreate the legendary last stand of a handful of Spartan warriors against multitudes of Persian invaders, though it accomplishes that task beautifully. It also manages to serve as a philosophical treatise on courage, brotherhood, sacrifice, dedication, love, and a host of other themes without ever becoming pedantic or boring.

Excelsior You Fathead!: The Life and Art of Jean Shepherd

| July 7, 2010

I wrote previously about the profound influence of raconteur, radio host, author, etc. Jean Shepherd on my feckless youth (a frequent Shepherdism for “kid types”). Here’s a little sampling of his descriptive powers (VIDEO: “Life is in bad taste” 1977) Today I’m stepping out to recommend a book I haven’t even read yet (but will […]

LOST Retrospective: The LOST Pilots That Failed Before LOST

| June 12, 2010

It seems there was many a slip ‘twixt Gilligan’s Island and LOST. Image via Wikipedia The success of Gilligan’s Island inevitably led to a slue of castaways-on-an-island imitators over the years, most of which never got beyond their pilot episodes. I actually remember seeing a couple of the ones featured in the video below. Perhaps […]

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