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Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New…
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Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953 (2013)

by Elizabeth Winder

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I'm not quite sure what there is left to say about Sylvia Plath, but rest assured, even though her bones have been picked pretty clean, I will probably read it. This book deals with the summer Plath spent in New York as a guest editor for Mademoiselle magazine.

Author Elizabeth Winder does an excellent job of evoking the mid-century atmosphere of the city along with the stultifying expectations of young women - even those who were bright and ambitious. Given Plath's fiery ambitions and given limited opportunities and confining roles for women, it's no wonder that she had a nervous breakdown at the end of the summer. The author has also interviewed many of the other women who were guest editors with Plath and their observations give contextual meaning to Sylvia Plath's story.

This is a slim volume that is easily read in a couple of sittings. Recommended for anyone who wants to delve more deeply into Plath's story. ( )
  etxgardener | May 23, 2016 |
Sylvia Plath is my favourite author, and as such I've read a number of books about her. But this was unlike any of the others, because it focused on such a specific period of time. It frustrates me how much her death overshadows every other element of her, so it was refreshing to read a book that didn't have to discuss it at all. I read this book as research for my NaNoWriMo novel this year, and it did provide insight into the areas relevant for my book. The author could get a little overly focused on seemingly trivial matters at times (so much discussion of clothes!), but overall I found the book interesting and helpful. ( )
  selfcallednowhere | Oct 26, 2015 |
I was expecting more insight into the life of Sylvia Plath, but the book dances around her life and gives second-hand accounts of events. Not what I thought it would be. ( )
  breakingbooks | Aug 13, 2014 |
I would like to thank Kathryn for allowing me the chance to read this uncorrected proof of Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953. I won it in the goodreads giveaway and was probably supposed to read it before the book actually came out but I didn't get the chance.

I know, I know: EPIC FAIL!

I would like the chance to redeem myself by reviewing the book now.

Funny, I have never read any of Plath's poetry but have read The Bell Jar numerous times as any angst-ridden teen to slightly misanthropic depressed adult can. I have always been a little obsessed with her. Her life could have been my life if I had her drive and ambition, not to mention, talent. I immensely enjoyed that Elizabeth Winder chose a period in Plath's life that wasn't all about despondence.

In June 1953, Sylvia Plath, along with nineteen other collegiate girls, had all started a prestigious one month internship in New York City at the magazine Mademoiselle. The girls would all be guest editors and stay at the Barbizon Hotel. The girls would get the chance to interview prolific writers of that day including Elizabeth Bowen, Dylan Thomas, and William Inge, among others.

They experienced the high life of 1950's New York City: expensive ballets and dinners, visiting offices like The New Yorker and the United Nations, and meeting sexy eligible bachelors. With the high points came the low points, especially for Sylvia, who wasn't used to the mid-Atlantic weather and the washed out weekends. Compound that with a bout of debilitating food poisoning and being chained to a desk while she cranked out rejection letters, Sylvia was feeling like a shell of her blonde, vibrant self.

That morose feeling followed her even after she completed her internship and left New York. When she returned to New England, a lot of little things, such as not being able to do shorthand or read James Joyce's Ulysses, worked on her fragile psyche and broke her leading up to her first suicide attempt. After being rehabilitated, Sylvia started wearing her "broken" status as a badge of honor and began acting in a reckless sort of way, especially with men.

I liked this novel. I liked that it explored an happier time, at least for a while anyway, in Plath's life. I liked that she was happy and vibrant and hopeful. She reminded me of myself when I first started college when she first started her internship.

It was that sort of bubbling excitement for the future. I knew exactly how Sylvia felt when what she expected didn't turn out the way she had hope it would be. I know that kind of crushing desolation can lead to some very damning actions.

My only problem with the book was the whole section Mademoiselle. I get that the magazine and that issue was a big part of Plath's life and, yes, it warrant a mention, but I don't think a whole section. Other than that, Pain, Parties, Work was great!

( )
  Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
I would like to thank Kathryn for allowing me the chance to read this uncorrected proof of Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953. I won it in the goodreads giveaway and was probably supposed to read it before the book actually came out but I didn't get the chance.

I know, I know: EPIC FAIL!

I would like the chance to redeem myself by reviewing the book now.

Funny, I have never read any of Plath's poetry but have read The Bell Jar numerous times as any angst-ridden teen to slightly misanthropic depressed adult can. I have always been a little obsessed with her. Her life could have been my life if I had her drive and ambition, not to mention, talent. I immensely enjoyed that Elizabeth Winder chose a period in Plath's life that wasn't all about despondence.

In June 1953, Sylvia Plath, along with nineteen other collegiate girls, had all started a prestigious one month internship in New York City at the magazine Mademoiselle. The girls would all be guest editors and stay at the Barbizon Hotel. The girls would get the chance to interview prolific writers of that day including Elizabeth Bowen, Dylan Thomas, and William Inge, among others.

They experienced the high life of 1950's New York City: expensive ballets and dinners, visiting offices like The New Yorker and the United Nations, and meeting sexy eligible bachelors. With the high points came the low points, especially for Sylvia, who wasn't used to the mid-Atlantic weather and the washed out weekends. Compound that with a bout of debilitating food poisoning and being chained to a desk while she cranked out rejection letters, Sylvia was feeling like a shell of her blonde, vibrant self.

That morose feeling followed her even after she completed her internship and left New York. When she returned to New England, a lot of little things, such as not being able to do shorthand or read James Joyce's Ulysses, worked on her fragile psyche and broke her leading up to her first suicide attempt. After being rehabilitated, Sylvia started wearing her "broken" status as a badge of honor and began acting in a reckless sort of way, especially with men.

I liked this novel. I liked that it explored an happier time, at least for a while anyway, in Plath's life. I liked that she was happy and vibrant and hopeful. She reminded me of myself when I first started college when she first started her internship.

It was that sort of bubbling excitement for the future. I knew exactly how Sylvia felt when what she expected didn't turn out the way she had hope it would be. I know that kind of crushing desolation can lead to some very damning actions.

My only problem with the book was the whole section Mademoiselle. I get that the magazine and that issue was a big part of Plath's life and, yes, it warrant a mention, but I don't think a whole section. Other than that, Pain, Parties, Work was great!

( )
  Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
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Epigraph
You are twenty...The strange tableau in the closet behind the bathroom: the feast, the beast, the jelly bean.
—SYLVIA PLATH
(November 13, 1952, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950–1862)
Marilyn Monroe appeared to me last night in a dream as a kind of fairy godmother. I spoke, almost in tears, of how much she and Arthur Miller meant to us, although they could, of course, not know us at all. She gave me an expert manicure. I had not washed my hair, and asked her about hairdressers, saying no matter where I went; they always imposed a horrid cut on me. She invited me to visit her during the Christmas holidays, promising a new. flowering life.
—SYLVIA PLATH
(October 5, 1959, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950–1862)
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Sylvia Plath committed suicide with cooking gas.
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In May of 1953, a twenty-one-year-old Plath arrived in New York City, the guest editor of Mademoiselle's annual College Issue. She lived at the Barbizon Hotel, attended the ballet, went to a Yankees game, and danced at the West Side Tennis Club. She was supposed to be having the time of her life. But what would follow was, in Plath's words, twenty-six days of pain, parties, and work which, ultimately, changed the course of her life.… (more)

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