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September 2008

Poetry Friday: Emily Dickinson

A friend of mine likes the work of Emily Dickinson so much that she always travels with a book of Dickinson's poems in her purse. I'm going to be sure to tell her about a brand-new work of nonfiction, White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, by Brenda Wineapple. Reviewing the book for the New Yorker, Judith Thurman writes,

"Dickinson’s experience, or what we know of it, has been so thoroughly archived, interpreted, and reimagined in every genre [...] that a contemporary scholar needs a good excuse to exhume the picked-over bones. In rehabilitating Higginson—dispatching the caricature of a tin-eared pedant—Wineapple finds one, and, through him, brings Dickinson into focus for a new generation."

Doesn't that sound good?

Link: "Her Own Society: A new reading of Emily Dickinson," by Judith Thurman. The New Yorker, issue of August 4th, 2008.

The Poetry Friday roundup takes place at Becky's Book Reviews today. You'll find links to poetry posts on a bunch of the children's book blogs.

The Fire of Literacy

"The fire of literacy is created by the emotional sparks between a child, a book, and the person reading. It isn't achieved by the book alone, nor by the adult who's reading aloud—it's the relationship winding between all three, bringing them together in easy harmony."

from Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever, by Mem Fox (Harcourt, 2001). Highly recommended! Also, a new and revised edition was published this year.

F. Scott & Zelda's "Cottage" for Sale in CT

Prop132655 And it's only $3 million and change. Summer share, anyone?

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald lived in the 18th-century house in Westport for six months in 1920. (It's been substantially renovated and added onto in the years since.) Barbara Probst Solomon wrote "Westport Wildlife," a fascinating article for the New Yorker (September 9, 1996) positing that Gatsby may have been inspired by an eccentric Westport millionaire. (Solomon's article is not available online.)

The Fitzgeralds moved to the house not long after marrying in New York, after stops at the Biltmore (from which they were thrown out) and Commodore hotels. A chronology at notes that "they spen[t] a riotous summer [at the Westport house] entertaining their New York friends, including the influential American literary critic, George Jean Nathan. whose flirtations with Zelda annoyed Scott."

Ironically, the abstract at the New Yorker's archives mentions that one of the reasons writers and other artists flocked to Westport in the 1920s was because it was cheap.

photo of the Fitzgeralds' "honeymoon cottage" borrowed from William Raveis real estate