Monday, March 5, 2012
protective of the poetess
My biggest beef was this: I understand that when writing a novel about a famous person you are allowed some license to create a world for them, but Charyn's book was too much for me. I didn't mind that he made Emily a character with a sense of awareness about her own sexuality, actually found it rather refreshing, considering how often even today we conceive of females in previous centuries as almost sexless creatures; I didn't like that Charyn then seemed to go a little too far, having Dickinson fall in love with a series of men (all poor choices), one after the other. It seems as though in trying to undo the spinster-poet way we think of Dickinson, Charyn went to the other extreme, making her a lovesick fool.
Maybe I let my own sense of Dickinson get in the way of enjoying this...? I was given Dickinson--by my favorite Auntie-when I was an angsty teen, writing angsty-teen-terrible poetry, so I feel protective of the poetess. She always seemed like a bad ass to me, shirking societal norms--staying single and writing, no less--so it was hard to swallow a story about a girl who chases one ass-hat of a man after the next.
Gah, I will quit complaining. Maybe later in the book Charyn paints a different portrait, but I guess I'll never know. To be fair, here is the NYTimes review.