blissery (blissery) wrote in bookish,

two reviews: the bell jar by sylvia plath and the glass soup by jonathan carroll

Sylvia Plath’s only novel is said to be (semi-)autobiographical, and with The Bell Jar written in the first person it was just near-impossible for me to detach Sylvia Plath from protagonist Esther Greenwood. In the novel, Esther, an A-student from Boston in her twenties, wins an editorship at a fashion magazine in New York in the summer of 1953. The story begins harmlessly, with comic episodes, but soon turns to darker alleys, as Esther comes home from the summer and questions her worth. She cannot see anything significant or interesting in her future, and tries to find ways to kill herself.

Sylvia Plath committed suicide and died at the age of 30, shortly after the publication of her novel. (Her husband Ted Hughes’ second wife also committed suicide, and also took her young daughter’s life.) Forty-six years later, Sylvia and Ted’s son, Nicholas Hughes, who was only a baby when his mother put her head in the oven in the next room, hanged himself in 2009.

Esther survives, but she’s only an episode in Sylvia Plath’s life. Who knows what she might have done, the moment she stepped off the page?

Originally posted in my site.


I don’t want to talk too much about this excellent Jonathan Carroll novel because I want you to experience it (if ever you went ahead and read it – you should, you know) the way I experienced it. I didn’t read the blurb, and had no idea what the book was about, so essentially I threw myself into the first chapter empty of expectation. And lo, how I floundered. The novel has the most interesting chapter titles (“Tunica Molesta”, “Knee-Deep in Sunday Suits”) and the first chapter is called, “Simon’s House of Lipstick”. In it, Simon Haden gives a bus tour to a group of odd creatures (including a bag of caramels, who is bored) with a little man named Broximon, wondering how he can pay his bills. I read, interested, but the chapter was getting weirder and I didn’t know what was happening. Then I knew, and oh, what sweet bliss as I understood, and I kept on reading.

More than the characters and the incredible plot, I was amazed by Carroll’s pacing. How he leaves you with questions and gives you the answers, slowly, like a striptease. It made reading the story a wonderful experience. It was as if I were given a slice of the best chocolate cake and given all the time in the world to savor it.

You can read the first chapter here.

Originally posted in my site.


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