Book Review: Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

Rating: 2/5*

*(first third 3/5, final third, 1/5)

 

In what might be the first time ever, I did a 360 in my feelings for this book AFTER I started writing my review. I sat down to read Belzhar and had to stop two chapters in to write up my (gushingly positive) thoughts.

Continue reading “Book Review: Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer”

UK National Poetry Day 2014

Today is National Poetry Day in the UK! In lieu of subjecting you to my own poetical musings, I wanted to share one of my favorite poems.

Lesbos by Sylvia Plath

Viciousness in the kitchen!
The potatoes hiss.
It is all Hollywood, windowless,
The fluorescent light wincing on and off like a terrible migraine,
Coy paper strips for doors
Stage curtains, a widow’s frizz.
And I, love, am a pathological liar,
And my child look at her, face down on the floor,
Little unstrung puppet, kicking to disappear
Why she is schizophrenic,
Her face is red and white, a panic,
You have stuck her kittens outside your window
In a sort of cement well
Where they crap and puke and cry and she can’t hear.
You say you can’t stand her,
The bastard’s a girl.
You who have blown your tubes like a bad radio
Clear of voices and history, the staticky
Noise of the new.
You say I should drown the kittens. Their smell!
You say I should drown my girl.
She’ll cut her throat at ten if she’s mad at two.
The baby smiles, fat snail,
From the polished lozenges of orange linoleum.
You could eat him. He’s a boy.
You say your husband is just no good to you.
His Jew-Mama guards his sweet sex like a pearl.
You have one baby, I have two.
I should sit on a rock off Cornwall and comb my hair.
I should wear tiger pants, I should have an affair.
We should meet in another life, we should meet in air,
Me and you.

Meanwhile there’s a stink of fat and baby crap.
I’m doped and thick from my last sleeping pill.
The smog of cooking, the smog of hell
Floats our heads, two venemous opposites,
Our bones, our hair.
I call you Orphan, orphan. You are ill.
The sun gives you ulcers, the wind gives you T.B.
Once you were beautiful.
In New York, in Hollywood, the men said: “Through?
Gee baby, you are rare.”
You acted, acted for the thrill.
The impotent husband slumps out for a coffee.
I try to keep him in,
An old pole for the lightning,
The acid baths, the skyfuls off of you.
He lumps it down the plastic cobbled hill,
Flogged trolley. The sparks are blue.
The blue sparks spill,
Splitting like quartz into a million bits.

O jewel! O valuable!
That night the moon
Dragged its blood bag, sick
Animal
Up over the harbor lights.
And then grew normal,
Hard and apart and white.
The scale-sheen on the sand scared me to death.
We kept picking up handfuls, loving it,
Working it like dough, a mulatto body,
The silk grits.
A dog picked up your doggy husband. He went on.

Now I am silent, hate
Up to my neck,
Thick, thick.
I do not speak.
I am packing the hard potatoes like good clothes,
I am packing the babies,
I am packing the sick cats.
O vase of acid,
It is love you are full of. You know who you hate.
He is hugging his ball and chain down by the gate
That opens to the sea
Where it drives in, white and black,
Then spews it back.
Every day you fill him with soul-stuff, like a pitcher.
You are so exhausted.
Your voice my ear-ring,
Flapping and sucking, blood-loving bat.
That is that. That is that.
You peer from the door,
Sad hag. “Every woman’s a whore.
I can’t communicate.”

I see your cute decor
Close on you like the fist of a baby
Or an anemone, that sea
Sweetheart, that kleptomaniac.
I am still raw.
I say I may be back.
You know what lies are for.

Even in your Zen heaven we shan’t meet.

Focus On: Psychological Novels

Though I’ve featured novels with psychiatric/mental illness themes before I have never dedicated an entire post to them. The human psyche is so interesting because of how fragile it truly is. Below are a selection of my favorite novels and memoirs about mental illness and those who treat it.

Dreaming for Freud by Sheila Kohler

Dreaming for Freud by Sheila Kohler

Dreaming for Freud: A Novel

A retelling of Freud’s famous Dora, Dreaming for Freud is riveting and disarming. Getting into the head of Freud and Dora puts the case in a whole new light. Plus, anything blurbed by Joyce Carol Oates and Amy Tan is good enough for me!

 

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Virgin Suicides

Creepy, voyeuristic and impeccably written, The Virgin Suicides is an interesting representation of life after suicides. The book has all the sensuality of Sofia Coppola’s film with more story and substance.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Sharp Objects

Long before Gone Girl became a sensation, I picked up Sharp Objects and fell hard for Flynn’s writing. I even did a featuring her for my high school creative writing class! Sharp Objects is a mystery but with a twist, the detective suffers from a mental illness. As the mystery unfolds you begin to realize the book is much more an unraveling of the narrator’s mystery than it is a solving of a crime.

Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber

Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber

Sybil

I’ve spoken elsewhere about this novel, but it’s hold on psychology warranted a mention. Every Psych 101 student hears about the strange Sybil case and learns to debate diagnoses by going through its rocky history.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar

Last but certainly not least is the book that is beloved by high school and college girls everywhere. Plath captures the frenzy and despair of being young and suffering in her remarkable prose. Every time I read this novel I find myself discovering new meanings and nuances — on my top ten favorite books of all time!