Sunday, July 10, 2016
Book Review: A Loaded Gun by Jerome Charyn
Award-winning author Jerome Charyn returns to the world of Emily Dickinson in his latest biography, A Loaded Gun.
With his thought-provoking, eloquent style Charyn explores the complex woman often referred to as the Belle of Amherst. At times shy, yet, sometimes bold, this often misunderstood poet has fascinated readers for generations.
As he did with his novel, The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson, he entices the reader to reconsider what they know about Dickinson. Was she merely that reclusive spinster trapped in her "Pearl Jail" at the Homestead or was she a gifted writer scribbling fragments on brown wrapping paper and stray envelopes that spoke of a passionate woman who chartered her own destiny and whose words inspired works of art?
The depth of Charyn's research is clear from the start. He's studied previous biographies, explored Dickinson's letters and poems, and interviewed experts to bring what he sees as the real Emily Dickinson to life for modern readers. More than a woman who was trapped by her father in the family's home, more than someone's odd aunt or sister, more than the cockeyed girl in a dark dress we know from the daguerreotype, Dickinson was a powerful woman who seduced people with her words.
It will be interesting to dig out my Emily Dickinson collection after reading A Loaded Gun to see if my own perceptions of her work have changed.
Ultimately, I don't think we will ever learn more about Dickinson than she wished to share with us, but Charyn's in depth look at her life has definitely brought me closer to this "unknowable genius."
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press (March 15, 2016)
I received a free copy of this book from the author through Tribute Books Blog Tours. This review contains my honest opinion, which I have not been compensated for in any way.
I read this book for the following challenge: