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The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 22, 2010
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More About the Author
Charyn's popular crime novels, featuring homicide detective Isaac Sidel, inspired a new animated drama series. 'Hard Apple' debuts on the small screen in 2017, helmed by Hollywood insider James Gray (The Immigrants) and illustrated by famed artists Asaf and Tomer Hanuka (Waltz with Bashir.) Click on the teaser video below.
Now in bookstores: Bitter Bronx: Thirteen Stories. Bronx-born Charyn brings to life the pre- and post-Robert Moses world of New York's northernmost borough in thirteen bittersweet stories. *Nominated for Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and Kirkus Prize in Fiction.
Coming March, 2016: Charyn's groundbreaking and highly-anticipated study A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century - the subject of a new documentary narrated by Cynthia Nixon.
Charyn lives in New York and Paris.
Top Customer Reviews
Dickinson, the "Belle of Amherst," her Massachusetts home town, was a well-born girl, the daughter of the attorney who was considered, at that time and place, the earl of the village. She was educated at Mount Holyoke, then, apparently, a restrictive, religiously oriented seminary, she loved her father greatly, lived in his house all her life, never endured serious money worries, and has come down to us through history as a prim and proper cameo of a repressed lady in white. But all sources agree that she did have a few flirtations, and she wrote poetry that is important to many people. As I have said elsewhere before, I'm not a poetry person, and therefore am not familiar with Dickinson's life or poetry: but I surely appreciate the fine deckle-edged book I see before me.
The story begins in the snow, in 1848, at Mt. Holyoke.Read more ›
Charyn captures both Dickinson's language and her complexities. He freely intertwines fact with fiction, which is why I think reading this book as some kind of strict historical fiction/quasi-biography is a huge mistake. This isn't a biography or even a biographical novel. It's more akin to what Shakespeare's great Roman tragedies were: dramatic reworkings of sources that were themselves somewhat embellished (the layering of Shakespeare's Coriolanus to Plutarch's Caius Martius to the "real" Caius Martius, for example). A more contemporary example might be Sandra Cisneros's The House on Mango Street, which is largely autobiographical but (as I understand it) interpolates some fictive situations or twists--new layers to a real story. Like The House on Mango Street, Charyn's Secret Life is also told in a loose vignette style.
Out of the raw material of Dickinson's tempestuous life in the Amherst teapot, Charyn casts her as a somewhat reclusive spinster whose bottled-up passions are always at a boil and ready to burst. The story is relatively straightforward, and usually centers on Dickinson's interaction with one or two people at a time.Read more ›
Long a fan of her poetry, I sadly know very little about the life of Emily Dickinson. So, much of this amazing book went over my head I fear. Jerome Charyn does a masterful job of weaving established facts about Emily's life and the people in it with his own imaginings of what it was like to live in her mind. Charyn slips into the mind of Emily, and write a novel full of wonder and heart.
Rarely does a modern author capture the same rhythm and flow of a classic writer, and attempts to do so are typically unconvincing. But Charyn defies the law of averages, and makes one forget they are not reading straight from Emily's diary. He channels her spirit brilliantly, and we really feel as if we know Emily by the end of the book. We share her pain, as well as her pleasure.
I think this is a wonderful novel that weaves together elements of classic literature with modern literature in a new, fresh way. I recommend this to every fan of Dickinson's poetry, nay, of all classic poetry. Charyn talks about reaction to the novel in his video.
I am among the faction who love the novel, and am grateful for the chance to learn more about my dear Emily. Take this opportunity to do the same.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
IMHO, ED just wasn't that twee or odd - either as a young woman or as an older one.Published 9 months ago by shiversodread
You have to give Jerome Charyn credit for chutzpa, if nuthin' else. He had to know going in that he was going to get a lot of grief for daring to play ventriloquist for Emily... Read morePublished 13 months ago by meeah
This book, written in the first person by "Emily Dickinson," is interesting throughout--but I didn't buy that it was accurate in the least. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Helen Bennett
I tried to read it, but it was so unlike anything Emily Dickinson, I had to throw it away. What was the author thinking?! Read morePublished 23 months ago by Helena Lundgren
If I were to meet Monsieur Charyn in person, I should feel compelled to curtsy and thank him profusely for his quite wonderful and engaging book ... Read morePublished on November 27, 2013 by Wanda Lea Brayton
When I began preparing to play the role of Emily Dickinson in "The Belle of Amherst, naturally I read Emily's letters, many biographies about her, scholarly articles and more. Read morePublished on August 28, 2013 by Sindalee