I like the rain. I want to have a spring bookworming rain party full out with wellies—but not those Hunter Boots; absolutely not—, with yummy airy things like puffed pastries, meringues, mini fluffy cheese cakes, mousse dessert, macaroon, biscuits, crepe, and Earl Grey tea, definitely Earl Grey tea. and Tillandsia. We'd have lots of "air plants". Lots! And We'd read, but not anything structured. We'd bring books, trade books, read out-loud, pass books around between sentences and paragraphs. We'd leave with books we hadn't discovered.
I like books like I like my Jazz; euphoric, dangerous, occasionally a bit manic, sorrowful, bleak, raging, mood-incongruent, mournful, unforgivingly ragged, symbolic in a quiet way, warm apple pie for the soul. Give me a Plath style. Yōko Ogawa, M. Roach,
Criteria: Not rated on likability of characters. Not objective. I like Moxie Soda; chances are you don't.
time spent in that before bed reading slot:
5-until blurry eye 4-Later than I intended, but I still kept to my extended, extended reading time 3-I really should have been to bed an hour ago 2-customary 30 minutes. 1-book. side table. eyes closed.
How are common themes handled?
5-With an aesthetic that repurposes everyday themes into something fresh. Think of Hole Celebrity Skin covered by Cat Power 4-there is a comfortable air of familiarly.
3-Deja Vu 2. No deviation from its mates 1. Devastatingly trite, redundant, and stale.
Where would you keep it post-reading?
5-Next to my bed. 4-it's the center piece of my favorite bookshelf 3. On my other favorite bookshelf, but it's a bit dusty over their 2-Great cheap bookends 1-It never made it out of the box marked 'moving'.
5- Where is my teddy bear? Emotional-hangover 4- If I wasn't so emotionally stunted I'd cry. 3. Did James Cameron co-wrote this? Artfully contrived. 2- calculative emotional manipulation. This was literally written by James Cameron.1- I…feel…..nothing.
Mechanics (plot structure, voice, presentation, word choice, sentence structure, characters, writing style, pacing, and consistency):
5-Chanel 4-Prada 3-J-Crew 2-Gap 1-Old Navy
Re reading this one more than ten yrs later wait for updates.
“I am sure there are things that can't be cured by a good bath but I can't think of one.”
how do you even describe, attempt to explain the beauty of this book. Its simplistic. It craws across your skin and seeps into your pours with unmistakable disregard for your attempts to keep it surface. this novel, like girl interrupted portrays mental illness, not in a fancy and colorful way—unfortunately this is a trend. oh look at me i have ADHD and i'm so trendy—, it is raw, deadpan, blisteringly cold to the touch.
“because wherever I sat—on the deck of a ship or at a street café in Paris or Bangkok—I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.”
“But when it came right down to it, the skin of my wrist looked so white and defensless that I couldn't do it. It was as if what I wanted to kill wasn't in that skin or the thin blue pulse that jumped under my thumb, but somewhere else, deeper, more secret, and a whole lot harder to get.”
“I didn't know why I was going to cry, but I knew that if anybody spoke to me or looked at me too closely the tears would fly out of my eyes and the sobs would fly out of the throat and I'd cry for a week.”
pull on your heart-strings in a very genuine and visceral way.
I read this one in high school, and perhaps even still have my copy, along since lost in the massive bookshelves of my apartment; there are many, many books and many shelves. but i hold it dear to my heart as the first REAL piece of literature, classic literature as some may say, that really got me. That is one reason, among others, that I hold this one in high regards.
Some books, you see are unique. you connect to them on the surface, and you push yourself to really get it—on the road is one of these; at least for me. But the bell jar is like a good coffee. It doesn't jolt you too much at the beginning, but 30 minutes to an hour later you are still elated. your thoughts are spinning, and colliding with one another. at the center of them, OH SHIT, is the idea, that this.could.be.you. So you search the DX of depression, take some online tests, and see you sorta kinda maybe fit into this category..... and now your heart is rendered useless with palpitations and fears; a slack muscle overrun with adrenaline. This is the sort of everlasting connection with a book that i crave and an expectation that is rarely, if ever met. Of course, I would enjoy the connection without the rumination on mental illness.
But we have all been there, to one degree or another. We have all been sad, or beyond sad; that describable place—"the bell jar, with its stifling distortions". Some of us have evaded it. Some of us haven't, and others went further, clutching to the sides of their former selves. But one way or another, you come out of it and realize, either hastily or slowly that "i am, i am. i am".
and you did this so easily, didn't you Sylvia. With truths like “Whenever I'm sad I'm going to die, or so nervous I can't sleep, or in love with somebody I won't be seeing for a week, I slump down just so far and then I say: 'I'll go take a hot bath.”, how does one not fall in love with, relish in and devour this lovely novel; because it's so f*cking true, a bath does cure almost everything.
pacing is spot on with character driven writing. It is slow, collective, and eases you into things. It builds up and resolves itself in a nice, somewhat, but maybe not totally predictable way; i mean come on we all know where its leading, but we don't know the who/what/where/how/or when....
of characters... there are many, and oh are their names delicious; Esther, Betsy... Constantin
Esther Greenwood: Main character and your guide throughout.... the main voice.
Mrs. Greenwood: Mum
Buddy Willard: boyfriend.
Doctor Nolan: psych doctor who attaches well to Esther. She, well is unique.
Doreen: from what i remember Esther befriends her. She is very cynical and sorta, as i remember opens Esther up to a whole new lens through which to see the world. Somewhat callous, but not in an off putting way.
Joan Gilling: comes about as a bounding moment for Esther in her experiences in mental institution
All romantic interests or loves of Esther's: Constantin Marco Irwin
Doctor Gordon: from what i remember a pretty useless psych doctor
Supporting roles, of sorts. Sometimes unremarkable, sometimes valuable and important to the storyline.
Philomena Guinea Mrs. Willard Lenny Shepherd Eric- friend. companion. Dodo Conway Jody- friend Valerie
plot: main character interns a magazine. Its competitive. Many of her coworkers or the people she encounters do not compare to her, nor do they hold many(any?) of the same values, morals, or standards. The brutality, the truly raw portions slowly build up and wash over the reader. boyfriends/lovers/crushes become a challenge. her work colleagues and friends begin to tear her psychological well-being asunder. It isn't really about what becomes of her, because that is somewhat trivial, but the progression of the illness, the ambivalence of others, and more so, others' failed attempts to aid Esther. Under this is the nobility of suicide attempts; or lack there of. It questions the essence of if there is virtue to letting go; to die as a means of escaping the pain you can't escape, or alternatively bearing it; and this is a choice almost always decided for you by others, and one that slowly becomes part of you, is accepted by you... gently. Society as a whole proclaims that one's fight, or death of cancer (illness) is a thing of courage and it is more noble to stand firm and unwavering—especially if you are going to die from the disease—then it is to give up. The same concept can be applied to people who die of old age; "it was her/his time. she had a lovely, full, and productive life' people will say. Society as a whole discourages suicide, and across many cultures and socioeconomic status shame the practice/act of taking ones own life. This too is questioned as the reader slowly witnesses Esther's downward spiral. So, the person with mental illness is caught between society's expectations and the morality of suicide, the finality of it and the ability to shut off the switch that has reduced you to a former shadow of yourself, and your own self-agency and self-determination.
But again, one way or another, you come out of it—or possibly you let it become part of you, a function, a characteristic of yourself, you(!) take control of—and realize, either hastily or slowly that "i am, i am. i am".
Recommended, but with caution for anyone who has, or is currently—especially!—dealing with mental illness. And don't, don't search the DSM4 for the DX criteria for depression. JUST don't.
then again don't we all, at one point in our lives connect with this passage, at least on some level: "“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.” Adolescence, before college, after college, after finding the love of your life... your first REAL job...... oh the endlessness
I read this when I was far too young. Perhaps this explains my uniquely damaged adulthood.