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A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st…
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A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century (2016)

by Jerome Charyn

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book is definitely for someone more familiar with Dickinson's work than I am. While I found it interesting, I was looking for a more basic biography of her life. This book is for the more serious student of her works. ( )
  CatsandCherryPie | Jul 1, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
An odd book. The tone is at times chatty, with small jokes and lots of sentences that start with "and." On the same page, though, there are interesting and detailed summaries of and quotations from Dickinson scholars' ideas about her life and work. While much of what Charyn says is factually based, he also includes quite a bit of speculation: "She must have gazed into Carlo's eyes and seen a mirror of her own wants" (76). (Carlo was Dickinson's beloved Newfoundland dog.) I enjoyed the scholarly material, and was sometimes charmed, sometimes annoyed by the tone. Eventually, though, the speculation was too much: I had to stop reading. I'm keeping it, anticipating its usefulness when I'm teaching Dickinson -- there's so much great information here -- but it didn't turn out to be the kind of book I want to read all the way through. ( )
  susanbooks | Jun 21, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is just an absolutely fantastic biography, I think, not just for the depth of research and cross-disciplinary knowledge, and not just because it's a fair attempt to upset some of we think we know about Emily Dickinson. But also because Charyn is just a great writer.

An excellent, exciting read. ( )
  Laura400 | Jun 11, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I know a bit about Emily, as I've loved her since I first met her when I was younger, but even still, this biography does not seem intended to be read as a first look at her life. I often felt as if I should have done a bit more research first, as the author assumes a certain familiarity with the people in Emily's life, etc. Keeping Google near got me through most of it, though, without too much trouble... and that's a good thing, because the biography really is great. It shatters a lot of myths that have clouded Emily's image... although because of that, it is unlike most other biographers I've read. The goal isn't really to be a biography of Emily -- rather to be a mythbuster. And that's okay! But read something a bit more traditional first, then tackle this one. ( )
  inpariswithyou | May 25, 2016 |
Loved the Cornell and Gorgeous Nothings chapters. Susan Howe rabbit hole. Read more like a series of long-form essays. ( )
  beckydj | Apr 8, 2016 |
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Dedication
First words
I couldn't let go.
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Is my verse alive?
My life had stood a loaded gun.
And that was Dickinson's dilemma. The poet on the second floor was like a monster in her lair. And it shouldn't startle us that there was a strange flutter about her--she was carrying bombs in her bosom, under the white dress that has tagged her as a harmless old maid for at least a hundred years, the very recluse we meet in Luce's play, who spills all her secrets to an audience of strangers, when she was a woman with volcanic powers--whose lightning rhythms and ragged rhymes seem to mirror our postapocolyptic age, and whose lyrics grow more and more modern. [25]
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