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“The Trapeze Diaries is an outsider book in terms of structure and genre. It's not quite fiction, not quite memoir and not quite nonfiction. It belongs and yet doesn't belong to those categories. This is also the essence of the book: being liberated from the confines of typecasting so that you are free to be the most positive expression of yourself.”
One theory of poltergeists -- a theory that Plath surely would’ve liked -- has it that some teenage girls are overflowing with so much repressed fury and unexpressed sexual energy that they cause supernatural phenomena -- chairs flying across the room, strange spontaneous bleeding. Plath, like the fili, was a hardcore, full-body poet. She was kabbalistic, a golem-maker, and she created any number of monsters that still haunt readers. Her work exposes all of the worst humiliations of growing up female.
Traumatic material, it seems, is stored differently in the brain from ordinary autobiographical memories and is prone to return in horrific surges that replay the experience. These reenactments aren’t verbal but emotional and sometimes visual. They exist outside our biographical narratives, which are safely behind us. These ugly nonsensical fragments turn the past into the present because they aren’t remembered but relived. The novel’s real secrets lie in these hard-to-articulate bits and pieces, not in the plot machinery that leads the characters to anticlimactic revelations. But the only hope for all of them is to try to pull the wounded or bandaged place into a story.
Sean P. Carroll
"I think the greatest thing I’ve learned since returning to the States is that you really are on your own as a writer. You certainly may develop close relationships with publishers and editors -- I know I have -- but at the end of the day there are cold-hearted bean-counters calling the shots behind the scenes, and the rest of us are powerless. So when it comes to issues like marketing and getting the books into the hands of key readers, you really do have to take the bull by the horns. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not the world I expected when I set out a quarter century ago."
"My roommate had gotten us tickets to a reading at the College of Marin: Ginsberg, Gary Snyder and Philip Whalen, clearly a super-group of Beat show musicians. The campus had a small chapel in a pine grove off Highway 101, deep in the foothills of Mount Tamalpais. The air in the sanctuary was damp and salty for a place so far inland; it reminded me of the “chilly Buddha halls” and Yukon River roadhouses Snyder had celebrated in his newly released Regarding Wave. Though I’d carried the brick-like, unwieldy On Bear’s Head around in my backpack, Whalen’s was the work I knew least. And there he was in front of me, staring at some point in the chapel’s rear where the whale-ribbed nave rose up and left dangling above us all kinds of strange detritus: white paper lanterns and bones of mountain rams, dried rattling kelp, glass balls from Asian fishing nets that cornered the knotted hemp and kept it afloat."
God, gods, and spirits: I spend a lot of time thinking about the final pair in this supernatural trio. Anyone who wants to understand the human propensity for religiosity had better Think Beyond God. (And anyone who likes to play with multiple meanings might make a decent bumpersticker out of that phrase.)
Barbara J. King
"My critical writing nowadays tends to take place at home only, sometimes in the library. The more ascetic and isolated the environment the better. I have to cultivate an atmosphere of torture in order to finish my dissertation. Happiness breeds happiness but not dissertations. On the other hand, I could write creatively anywhere. Maybe this will change when I can commit myself to it. Maybe I will start to dislike it and then have to torture myself in order to do it. I hope not."
"I think place is what links the stories in the collection -- the history and sensibilities of Midwesterners, and how they embrace or ignore these aspects of the area. I expect that this reaction to place -- to conform or rebel -- is fairly universal; that said, I do believe readers find especially appealing those stories and novels that are set in places with which they're familiar. As a reader, you get that visceral twinge of recognition: oh, I've been to that store, or that bar, or I've walked along that street. Personally, I'd rather read Willa Cather than William Faulkner for the very reason of setting."