In an outstanding tribute to one of the greats, author Jerome Charyn brings Emily Dickinson back to her full living form, challenging perceptions we've been left with. The withered spinster with the blank stare is obliterated, and in her place is an intelligent, lonely woman who seems more sensual goddess than recluse. This account is by no means a flat history of her life but a tale of her obsessions and her loves. In all she did, Emily was driven by her gift for language and by an intense fervor that drove her to push the limits. This poet of Charyn's book is a rebel: one of America's earliest feminists, trapped in her own female form.
The writing here has been patterned after 19th-century literature (except in the convention that content be cloaked in propriety). And what writing it is! Polished, graceful and energetic --- language with the power to sway readers as Emily herself could. The six-part novel is written in Emily's voice with her speaking as she would to one of her admirers. Never does Charyn break from this style, so that soon Emily herself seems to be recounting her life to a trusted confidante. The scope is limited to events that mark her psyche, and in all, Charyn shows what makes Emily Emily. Many of her thoughts revolve around potential lovers; others rest on her passion for verse and her enduring affections for cherished family members.
The first stage of Emily's life opens with her early years at Mt. Holyoke, a seminary of cooperative young girls being molded into "Brides of Christ." Emily is trying to be docile and accommodating, but is seen early on as the most wicked kind of radical. One glimpse at Tom the handyman in his private quarters with his shirt off finds Emily in trouble with her frightening headmistress. Though she wants more to happen with him, the interruption stops that, ending in a scandal that sees Tom dismissed and Emily sent home.
The next stage takes Emily back to her family a