An exemplary edition offering a textured portrait of an iconic poet.



Six years of hope and joy end with a spiraling descent to suicide.

Journals, soul-baring poems, autobiographical fiction, and several biographies and critical studies have made the trajectory and struggles of Sylvia Plath’s (1932-1963) life familiar. Nevertheless, the second volume of her correspondence, edited, annotated, and introduced by Plath scholars Steinberg and Kukil, offers new revelations: unabridged letters to her mother and letters to the psychiatrist who treated Plath in the U.S. until 1959 and by letter after Plath settled in England. In an exceptionally sensitive foreword, Plath’s daughter writes of her stunned reaction when these intimate letters came to light in 2016, her trepidation about reading them, and the insights they gave her about her parents’ intense, almost claustrophobic love and the dramatic end of their marriage. It was her generous and well-considered decision to allow them into this volume. In hundreds of letters to her mother, Plath ebulliently and insistently conveys her happiness about writing, motherhood, and—until she discovers Hughes’ affair—her marriage. She portrays Hughes as nothing less than an Adonis: “a kind, handsome, wonderful person”; virile and attractive; a genius who, without a doubt, will achieve greatness as a poet. He tenderly nurses her through colds, flu, and a miscarriage and happily plays with his daughter in the mornings so that Plath can write. Even when struggling financially, even when they both try to write in a cramped two-room apartment, Plath betrays no chink in the gleaming surface of their marriage. In 1959, though, when both are in residence at Yaddo, she admits, “I am so happy we can work apart, for that is what we’ve really needed.” Correspondents include Plath’s brother; Hughes’ parents (to whom she writes ingratiating encomiums about their son) and his overbearing sister; friends, fellow poets, and assorted relatives; and many editors who publish her work. Although worries and anxiety occasionally creep in, not until the end does she become overwhelmed with frustration, anger, and a desperate fear of madness.

An exemplary edition offering a textured portrait of an iconic poet.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-274058-8

Page Count: 1088

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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