Tuesday, February 22, 2011


The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson by Jerome Charyn
finished reading on February 21, 2011

My thoughts:
Besides her poetry, I have to admit that I know little about the historical figure of Emily Dickinson.  Though a work of fiction, Charyn has given us some possible insight into what Emily may have been like.  A self-proclaimed 'spinster', it's hard to say if Emily's spinsterhood was brought about by her father's overbearing nature and his selfish desire to keep his family close or due to her own eccentricities, of which we learn in this book she had quite a lot.  Emily runs a constant internal monologue and she seems peculiarly obsessed with men, or should I say sex.  She starts out enamored of the handyman at her boarding school and continues on with a list of various men that she fantasizes about, tries to run off with, asks them to marry her...the list culminates with an endless obsession with the Reverend Charles Wadsworth.  The interesting part of the book is that her writing seems to take a backseat to everything else.  She speaks of her 'scribblings' on scraps of paper, envelopes, and fliers--almost like her brilliant poetry was an afterthought.  Nonetheless, Charyn has constructed an interesting and endearing portrait of Emily Dickinson, however fictional it may be, and I, for one, have been bitten by the bug of wanting to learn more about her.

Amazon See Inside the Book

Book trailer:

About the author:
Jerome Charyn (born May 13, 1937) is an award-winning American author. With nearly 50 published works, Charyn has earned a long-standing reputation as an inventive and prolific chronicler of real and imagined American life. Michael Chabon calls him “one of the most important writers in American literature.”

New York Newsday hailed Charyn as “a contemporary American Balzac,” and the Los Angeles Times described him as “absolutely unique among American writers.”

Since the 1964 release of Charyn’s first novel, Once Upon a Droshky, he has published 30 novels, three memoirs, eight graphic novels, two books about film, short stories, plays and works of non-fiction. Two of his memoirs were named New York Times Book of the Year. Charyn has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. He received the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture.

Charyn was Distinguished Professor of Film Studies at the American University of Paris until he left teaching in 2009.

In addition to his writing and teaching, Charyn is a tournament table tennis player, once ranked in the top 10 percent of players in France. Noted novelist Don DeLillo called Charyn’s book on table tennis, Sizzling Chops & Devilish Spins, "The Sun Also Rises of ping-pong."

Charyn lives in Paris and New York City.

Blog Tour web site:

Jerome Charyn's web site:

Jerome Charyn's Facebook:

Jerome Charyn's Twitter:

The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson Facebook:

The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson Twitter:

W.W. Norton & Company web site:

BookReporter.com's Top Books of 2010 (#52)

Price: $14.95
ISBN: 9780393339178
Pages: 352
Release: February 14, 2011

Price: $24.95
ISBN: 9780393068566
Pages: 348
Release: February 22, 2010

Buy the book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble

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Thank you to Nicole at Tribute Books for inviting me to participate on this tour.  I apologize for the late posting.

I received a PDF copy of this book for review from Tribute Books.  I did not receive any monetary compensation and the review is my honest opinion.


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  1. Isn't it amazing how these heroines somehow become successful without working so hard at it? And meanwhile we get to learn all about their sex lives, which occupies 90% of their thoughts and/or activity. It's almost as if a woman is just a walking vagina no matter what she accomplishes in life.

  2. Not sure when I'll get to this book, but it sounds great. Love the cover!

  3. Michelle - what an insightful review! You really keyed in on the main points and the tone of the book. Well done! Thanks for being such a trooper with the PDF - we appreciate it - and for hosting a stop on the blog tour.

  4. great review! i went to mount holyoke, where she went, and have always been fascinated by her!

  5. I do love Dickinson's poetry and I'm glad to hear that Charyn is able to craft a great book around her life and all its eccentricities.

- See more at: http://www.techtrickhome.com/2013/02/show-comment-box-above-comments-on.html#sthash.TjHz2Px9.dpuf
- See more at: http://www.techtrickhome.com/2013/02/show-comment-box-above-comments-on.html#sthash.TjHz2Px9.dpuf